In the past I used TrueCrypt for my encryption needs, but its development was discontinued in May 2014. While it still remains usable and reasonably safe according to several audits of the software by security experts, I still think it’s a good idea to stick with software that’s being actively developed. There were also rumors of NSA backdoors in TrueCrypt, but thus far none have been found.
In this post I want to review some of the best free encryption tools available as of 2015-2016.
|#||Name||Single Files?||File Containers?||Full Disk?||Platform|
|1||VeraCrypt||No||Yes||Yes||Windows, Linux, Mac|
|3||7-Zip||No||Yes||No||Windows GUI, Linux command line|
|4||AES Crypt||Yes||No||No||Windows, Linux, Mac|
VeraCrypt is a fork of the discontinued TrueCrypt developed by IDRIX, a French IT security firm. IDRIX has strengthened the encryption in VeraCrypt and allegedly fixed some of the bugs that were in TrueCrypt.
The interface is pretty much the same as TrueCrypt and it has all of the same features. With VeraCrypt you can either create encrypted file containers to secure your data, or encrypt entire partitions, even system partitions.
Many encryption programs can only encrypt files or entire partitions, VeraCrypt can do both, which makes it an excellent option to address most of your encrypting needs.
AxCrypt is a free file encryption program for Windows developed by Axantum Software, a Swedish software developer. With AxCrypt you can encrypt single files or several files at once, but AxCrypt does not support encrypted file containers nor can you encrypt disk partitions.
AxCrypt uses mainly a AES 128-bit algorithm for encryption and supports the use of key-files. When installing AxCrypt, it becomes integrated with the Windows shell, making it very easy to use. Simply right-click a file and select AxCrypt.
Another interesting feature of AxCrypt is that it can create self-decrypting executable files, so the recepient of an encrypted file may not necessarily need to have AxCrypt installed to open the file.
7-Zip is a free file archiving tool for Windows, much like WinRAR and WinZip, except it can also encrypt 7-Zip archives with a 256-bit AES encryption to protect the data. There is also a command line version of 7-Zip for Mac and Linux, called p7zip.
7-Zip file archives are sort of like the TrueCrypt file containers, except you don’t have to mount them via TrueCrypt all the time, you can just extract the files.
AES Crypt is a free file encryption program for Windows, Linux and Mac. It can encrypt single files or multiple files at the same time, but like AxCrypt it does not support file containers or disk partition encryption.
AES Crypt is also integrated with the Windows shell when installed, making it fairly easy to use.
DiskCryptor is a free open source disk encryption tool for Windows. DiskCryptor can encrypt harddrive partitions, even system partitions and those with data already on them. But it cannot encrypt single files or create encrypted file containers.