Encryption software: A comparison of encryption tools

Encryption software makes it simple to protect files, folders, or entire hard drives from prying eyes. There are paid and free encryption software options available. These differ mainly in their operation, setting options, which data can be encrypted and how, and other additional features.

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What does encryption software do?

Encryption programs encrypt data on your computer and assign a key. Only individuals who know the key can access the data. It is possible to encrypt individual files, for example, a Word document or a PDF, or alternatively, entire folders, drives and partitions. Different encryption methods and keys are used depending on the encryption software and security requirements. The most common key is a password. However, it is also common to have a file or device where the password is stored, or even an image which must be pieced together correctly.

Tip

Do you want to learn more about encryption methods? Read our guides on asymmetric encryption and RSA cryptosystem.

An overview of encryption software

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

VeraCrypt

 

- completely free

- compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac

- numerous encryption methods

- encrypts system partitions

- hidden operating systems

- complicated to use

Rohos Mini Drive

- completely free

- easy setup

- only available for Windows

- only encrypts USB sticks

ProxyCrypt

- completely free

- a lot of freedom in encryption setup

- protects against keyloggers

- only available for Windows

- requires admin skills

Boxcryptor

- encryption for 30 different cloud providers

- available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

- ideal for companies or teams

- easy to use

- free version only suitable for private users and usage is very limited

- oversized if no cloud is used

Folder Lock

- easy to use

- can encrypt partitions

- only available for Windows

- integration of external clouds is not possible

- files cannot be hidden

- system partitions cannot be encrypted

CryptBox

- simple to use

- encrypts system partitions

- direct cloud connection

- different access methods

- only available for Windows

- drives cannot be hidden

Freeware: The best free encryption software

Operating systems usually come with several preinstalled tools, so you may not necessarily need another program to encrypt ZIP files or encrypt Mac folders. However, there are programs which can supplement these preinstalled tools and can be downloaded free of charge.

VeraCrypt

VeraCrypt, the successor to the open-source tool TrueCrypt, is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and can be used completely free of charge. In addition to the basic functions such as encrypting individual files and folders, users can choose between many different encryption methods, encrypt complete system partitions, and hide operating systems. This makes the freeware VeraCrypt more efficient than some paid services for data encryption software. However, setup and usability are not so intuitive and it may be more suitable for advanced users.

Rohos Mini Drive

The Rohos Mini Drive tool was developed to encrypt USB flash drives.It is very easy to use and is mainly suitable for transferring data securely from one PC to another. After installing the program, you set up an encryption container on a USB stick, which you can protect with a password. You can change various parameters through settings, such as the size. In terms of disadvantages, the range of features is very limited and the encryption software is only available for Windows.

ProxyCrypt

Users with admin experience can use ProxyCrypt to encrypt files, folders, and drives with the command line in Windows. According to the provider, a virtual drive is required for this, which can be created with the ImDisk Virtual Disk Driver tool. Both programs are available as free open source solutions. There is a lot of freedom with this type of encryption and there is a large choice of encryption methods once it has been set up. The software even offers protection against keyloggers.

Tip

Learn more about S/MIME, the standard procedure for email encryption, and how to encrypt emails with PGP for secure email communication.

Paid encryption software

There are also paid encryption tools which are suitable for businesses in case you have more extensive encryption requirements or VeraCrypt is too complicated. Many of these options are usually connected directly to a cloud and data can be stored there in encrypted form.

Boxcryptor

The encryption software Boxcryptor is developed by a German manufacturer and specializes in the encryption of data in the cloud. Over 30 cloud providers can be easily connected, which makes this a good option for companies who want to safelyshare a lot of data with decentralized teams.Various encryption methods and other important basic functions are also available. Operation is simple, and Windows users benefit from perfect integration with Explorer.

Folder Lock

Folder Lock for Windows is one of the most downloaded encryption tools in the world, however it is not available for Mac. Setup and operation is simple. Files can be stored in an encrypted virtual drive, and individual folders and files can also be backed up by right-clicking. Unfortunately, hiding data or encrypting an entire system partition is not possible. The encryption method is based on AES. There are no plans to connect to known clouds, however, the manufacturer’s cloud is available in the paid full version for $39.95.

CryptBox

In terms of encryption, CryptBox leaves nothing to be desired. Individual files, folders, partitions, and system partitions can be encrypted with AES, but unfortunately, there are no other methods to choose from. On the positive side, cloud services can be directly integrated and there is an option to protect data with a password, picture password, or key device. However, data cannot be hidden and the tool is also only available for Windows. CryptBox is an affordable and user-friendly encryption software which costs just over $30 for the full version.

Conclusion: What should the best encryption software be able to do?

The tool you choose should depend largely on your requirements. The free encryption tools or the preinstalled tools on your operating system are usually sufficient if you just want to protect individual files or folders from unauthorized access.

It may be worth investing in one of the paid options if you want to encrypt entire areas of your computer or want individual settings for encryption and access methods. The operation in paid options is more intuitive or explained in detail, when compared to VeraCrypt, for example. Companies who work with decentralized teams and need to have their data secure usually choose the tool which can be connected to a cloud solution.


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