Best Encryption Software for Digital Protection in 2021

Your sensitive data is a bounty sought after by malicious agents. Through the internet, attackers now have a lot of entry points to your personal computer or smartphone. In this day and age, you’ll need the best encryption software to safeguard your private and sensitive information from potential theft.

Useful encryption software uses cryptographic tools to scramble the bits and bytes of a file and make it unreadable. So, if an attacker somehow gets their hands on your data, they’re faced with the insurmountable hurdle of decrypting the information.

Besides data at rest, encryption software can also protect data in transit. Every email, video, and audio file you share can be intercepted, viewed, and altered en-route. While a VPN masks the origin point of a piece of data, it does not render it unreadable. Encryption software ensures that the intended recipients can only view data in transit.

A Quick Peek at the Best File Encryption Tools

Folder Lock — Easily create a file vault (a ‘Locker’) and simply drag and drop files to encrypt.

AxCrypt — Seamless, on-the-fly, single-file encryption software.

BestCrypt — Volume, partition, or full disk encryption in a matter of seconds.

Symantec PGP Email Encryption — Encrypt email communication before it reaches any internal or external servers.

eNova Enigma Series — A USB device loaded with software to automatically encrypt an external hard drive or any other USB storage device.

Boxcryptor — The best solution for frequent users of cloud storage.

VeraCrypt — A free, open-source option that’s among the best Windows encryption software because of its simplicity, security, and speed.

SimpleumSafe — Ciphering software designed specifically for Apple users.

Our Top 3 Recommendations

NO.
COMPANY
STATS
FEATURES
PRICE
8.7
FROM $36
8.6
FROM $48
8.3
FROM $100

Encryption Software Reviews

Folder Lock - best folder encryption software

PROS
  • Locks entire folders, USB flash drives, and CDs in minutes

  • Has “Shred” feature for proper unencrypted file disposal

  • Simple to use

CONS
  • No password generator

Installing NewSoftware’s Folder Lock is like installing a safe in your office. Imagine a compartment where you keep your most prized possessions safe from prying eyes; Folder Lock’s “Lockers” are essentially that.

The software creates a specialized encrypted folder or “Locker,” which requires a password for access. These folders are invisible in the standard Windows Explorer and can only be accessed through the Folder Lock application.

One of the best Folder Lock software features is the simple-to-use drag-and-drop basis. Simply select the files you want to protect and drag them into the application window.

The software not only protects files with a password but also encrypts them using an uncrackable 256-bit algorithm. Every locker can be backed online in cloud storage, so even if you lose your computer, you can recover your files within minutes.

In this encryption software review, we’re also going to mention that this can be used on USB flash drives and CDs — simply copy and paste a Locker onto an external storage device and make your files secure in transit. The same process can be applied to email correspondence, making it safe to transfer sensitive information conveniently over email.

You can also create specialized lockers for financial information, which are called Wallets. There’s also a deep and thorough browser history clean for covering your online tracks and the “Shred” feature for permanently and securely deleting data. All of these great features are why it’s on our list of top encryption software.

When first activating the program, you’ll be prompted to make up a master password that will be integral to your files’ safety. This password will be used for everything from decrypting your files to uninstalling the program. Be sure to keep this password safe, perhaps even use some of the best password management apps.

Some of the best encryption software provides a free trial period, and this one is no exception. The software costs $39.95, but before that, there is a free 30-day trial period. The price is not a lot considering the level of safety and peace of mind this product offers.

AxCrypt - best file encryption software

PROS
  • Seamless, one-click encryption

  • Protects data in transit

  • Built-in password manager

  • Functional free version

CONS
  • Cannot encrypt folders

When file encryption becomes a chore, you run the risk of neglecting it and putting your sensitive data at risk. That’s why it’s good to have a seamless and easy way of protecting your work and confidential information.

That’s one of the main advantages of AxCrypt’s workflow; you can encrypt, edit or share a file from the right-click context menu. AxCrypt is undoubtedly one of the best file encryption tools. It doesn’t just make the encryption process easier; sharing the encrypted files with other users also becomes a breeze.

Moving data is known to be the most vulnerable. Intercepting third parties can always get in the way and view or even edit files in transit. AxCrypt’s key sharing feature makes file sharing easier and more secure.

Simply send the encrypted file via email and add the receiving address to the whitelist in the application interface. Your team member will then gain viewing and editing access, even if they do not own AxCrypt. They will get a free AxCrypt ID for identification purposes.

A key feature that makes AxCrypt the best file encryption tool for maintaining cyber hygiene is password management. This feature allows you to encrypt and store all of your passwords online. There is also the secure folder feature, wherein you can assign a folder where all files are automatically encrypted and secured. AxCrypt also detects any cloud storage you’re using and secures those files as well.

Axcrypt’s main downside is that it is incapable of creating encrypted folders. It can only encrypt individual files.

For just $35, AxCrypt Premium will get you the virtually unbreakable AES-256 encryption algorithm, all of the features we’ve covered in this guide, and much more.

On the other hand, the free version provides basic features, such as AES-128 encryption and the ability to open keys that have been shared with you.

BestCrypt Volume Encryption by Jetico - best hard drive encryption software

PROS
  • Strongest encryption algorithms and keys

  • No-backdoor guarantee

  • Encrypts boot partitions

  • Guards from liability under GDPR and HIPAA

CONS
  • No file shredding feature

Losing an external hard drive can happen to anyone, which can be a real disaster if the disk contains valuable and private information. If you plan on transporting delicate information physically, it’s highly recommended you encrypt it.

The smooth interface, the strength of the encryption, and the customer support Jetico offers all add up to create the best disk encryption software on the market.

You can encrypt your entire computer, several disk volumes, or a single volume. You also have the choice of encrypting just part of the drive with data on it or the entire drive. BestCrypt uses the most secure and uncrackable encryption algorithms — including AES, Serpent, and Twofish — with the largest key sizes.

The BestCrypt Volume Encryption can protect your boot and system files as well, which ensures that no one can turn on and boot your computer without a password. Your drives are protected even when your computer goes into hibernate mode — an authentication password will be required to wake the device. So, it’s also one of the best PC encryption software.

If you’re storing confidential information that could make you liable under the GDPR or HIPAA, BestCrypt’s got you covered. The encrypted information is rendered unintelligible, so you are exempted from data breach notifications if your devices get stolen.

Jetico boasts a no-backdoor status on all its software, meaning that it has never included any software weakness that would provide a means for hackers to bypass the authentication requirements.

This disk encryption software can also be used to lock and protect USB drives. That makes it very useful for accessing files on computers that do not have BestCrypt installed.
The downside is that you need a separate purchase for shredding files and volumes. The possibility of piecing the unencrypted originals together if they are improperly deleted defeats the purpose of having the best hard drive encryption tool.

Jetico’s BestCrypt Volume Encryption software is available for both Windows and iOS. A year of full service will cost you just under $100. If you’re interested in purchasing the enterprise edition with over 20 accounts, you’ll need to ask Jetico’s customer support team for pricing.

Symantec PGP Email Encryption - best email encryption software

PROS
  • PGP encryption

  • Protects businesses from email scams

  • High customizability to accommodate different enterprises

CONS
  • May be hard to set up

Email collaboration has become an integral part of modern business. According to Osterman Research, this results in 74% of a company’s intellectual property appearing in emails. Every single email is a liability. Data in transit can be intercepted, viewed, and even altered in numerous ways.

Using an email encryption service ensures that even if malevolent agents get their grubby hands on your or your employees’ correspondences, it will be encrypted into oblivion.

Symantec’s encryption is one of the best encryption apps for emails. The process is automatic and seamless. Encryption occurs before emails hit internal networks or are uploaded to the cloud. The software is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. For mobile devices, it works with both Android and iOS.

No two companies are alike. That’s why Symantec’s encryption policies and procedures are highly customizable to meet your company’s specific needs. If the safety experts in your company want to avoid installing the software on each client, Symantec also offers server-level gateway encryption.

Symantec’s mail protection is PGP encryption software. Even though PGP modestly stands for “pretty good protection,” it’s one of the strongest and best encryption program protocols available. The message is encrypted with a randomly generated symmetric key. The symmetric key is then encrypted with the receiver’s public key.

The receiver then uses their private key to decrypt the randomized symmetric key and uses it to decrypt the message. This system also creates “digital signatures,” identifying pieces of data that act as a guarantee that the encrypted message has arrived at its destination unchanged and intact.

Symantec’s best encryption app for emails is meant for companies, so prices can be tailored to each company’s specific needs. You simply have to speak with Symantec’s support team.

eNova Enigma Series - best USB encryption

PROS
  • Easy utility for encrypting files on flash drives

  • Complex encryption ensures top security

  • Works with any operating system

  • Can use the same password to unlock files if you lose your dongle

CONS
  • A physical dongle — losing it means compromising all of your encryption

While this article mainly focuses on encryption software, a piece of hardware has made it on the list. The eNova Enigma Series consists of three products that use USB ports to make your encryption strategy more portable.

The Enigma I is probably the most interesting product in the series. It’s an intermediary between any kind of USB mass storage device and the computer you transfer files to and from. It contains the best USB encryption software.

When you plug the Enigma I into your computer and your USB storage device into it, all files going into the storage device are automatically encrypted. On the flip side, the decryption of files going out of the drive is just as seamless.

The Enigma does not slow down or in any way interfere with the file transfer process. This holds true for all generations of USB ports, from 1 to 3, which is why it’s the best data encryption software for USB storage devices.

When an encrypted storage device is plugged into a computer without the Enigma I dongle, the operating system sees it as a blank drive and offers to format it. Be careful not to do that, because it will delete all data on the drive.

The Enigma I uses the CBC (Cipher Block Chaining) encryption method. It is one of the best data encryption methods as it encrypts the plaintext data block by block, incorporating the encryption of the previous block for each subsequent one. This means that decrypting a single block, a task difficult in itself, will not give you access to any of the other ones. AES 256-strength encryption adds an extra layer of protection.

The Enigma I can be used on any USB interface, a convenience that comes with any of the best encryption software, but an installation process must be done beforehand. When it is first inserted, the OS reads the Enigma I as part of a CD-ROM drive. It contains a password utility app, which sets up the Enigma I recovery password. If you lose your Enigma I dongle, you will be able to access your encrypted files with another unit using the same password, which has a maximum length of 32 characters.

Even if you have the best encryption tools, you should still be careful. In this case, you should take extra steps to ensure no one gets their hands on the password.

Boxcryptor - best cloud storage encryption software

PROS
  • Seamlessly protect your cloud-stored data

  • Supports most popular cloud storage providers

  • Unlimited number of devices with the personal package

CONS
  • Requires separate app to share encrypted files with people who don’t own the software

The cloud represents a revolution in the way we handle data storage. Be it for personal use or collaborative efforts, storing and accessing files remotely is a huge benefit and a major shortcut in workflow. More than 40 zettabytes of data are expected to circulate on the cloud by the beginning of the next decade.

The new technology does, however, come with its drawbacks. You are lending your files to be kept by a third party, which is always a liability. Data breaches often take place silently and are only noticed years after the fact.

Most cloud providers offer a basic, if not the best, free server-side encryption. However, that still means they are the sole key holders to your sensitive data. If you plan on storing any type of confidential information online, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and invest in cloud encryption software.

Boxcryptor is the best on the market. It supports more than 30 cloud storage providers, including, of course, the most popular ones like OneDrive, Google Drive, and DropBox. The encryption happens on your device before the files are uploaded to your preferred cloud provider.

This is undoubtedly the best cloud encryption because the workflow is seamless. Boxcryptor creates a virtual drive on the cloud. All files uploaded to or created within that drive are automatically encrypted. Editing the encrypted files takes no extra steps. The result is an AES 256 encrypted database that only you hold the key to.

Boxcryptor follows the ZeroKnowledge paradigm that disallows encrypted file access to any third party, including Boxcryptor employees themselves.

It costs you nothing to take Boxcrpytor for a spin, literally. They provide the best free file encryption software for one cloud provider and two devices. It also lets you share encrypted files with people who do not own Boxcryptor, via Whisply. Whisply is a secure link-sharing service also developed by Boxcryptor.

The Boxcryptor Personal package adds filename encryption and allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices to an unlimited number of cloud providers. It will run you $48 for a yearly plan. The Business plan includes group accounts for hierarchical management. It will set you back $96 for an annual plan.

VeraCrypt - best free encryption software

PROS
  • Free, open source software

  • Uses no RAM while encrypting - won’t slow your computer down

  • Beginner friendly with detailed guides on how to use

CONS
  • A simple program without the bells and whistles of other providers

VeraCrypt is proof that good encryption relies solely on key secrecy. Even though the software is open-source and anyone can access the ciphering algorithm, it still provides AES 256-strength encryption.

All you have to do is keep your private key private. It supports both Windows and Mac, although some features are unavailable for Mac devices. So, really, this is more of the best encryption software for Windows than anything else.

In the spirit of open-source software, the VeraCrypt website offers a rich library of knowledge on this specific tool and encryption in general. The beginners tutorial guides you through each step of the installation process and shows you how to set up your first encryption folder. So, we recommend you download the software directly from the site and look up how to encrypt files there as well.

VeraCrypt is an on-the-fly open source encryption software. There’s no downside to using the software; it won’t slow down your processor and uses no RAM resources while encrypting and decrypting files. That is achieved through parallelization and pipelining.

Parallelization is the process of employing all available processor cores simultaneously when encrypting files. The speed of the process is directly proportional to the number of cores used. Thanks to pipelining, an application trying to load an encrypted file from a VeraCrypt drive doesn’t have to wait for the entire decryption process to finish. However, in these VeraCrypt reviews, it’s worth noting that this feature is only available for Windows encryption.

You can choose to mount a single folder or an entire partition. All files copied to this folder will be encrypted with an algorithm of your choice. If you’re new to encryption software, we suggest you stick with the proposed AES 256 algorithm. Chances are, your processor supports the hardware-acceleration feature for AES 256, making the encryption process even faster.

VeraCrypt encryption software is a bread-and-butter application that will serve your basic encryption needs. That said, the software offers no dedicated email or cloud encryption, for example. While these may be standard features in other software, we have to remember that VeraCrypt is freeware. Download the program, try it and if you like it, donate to the cause!

SimpleumSafe - best encryption software for Mac

PROS
  • Designed specifically for Apple devices

  • Seamless syncing with intuitive software solutions

  • Cheap, and even cheaper for students

CONS
  • No support for any other operating systems

When German passion for precision and American ingenuity combine, fireworks are bound to go off. That’s what’s happening with Simlpleum, the German-developed encryption software for Mac and iOS devices.

The software is designed explicitly with Apple devices in mind. It integrates seamlessly with the Mac operating system — everything is done on a drag-and-drop basis from the finder into the Safe folders, which encrypt the files. Safe passwords are hidden from anyone, including their employees, so be careful not to lose yours.

As we conducted our file encryption software reviews, we should note that Simpleum’s data encryption adheres to the industry-standard AES 256 protocol. Editing is easy and safe, as the files stay encrypted during the entire process. This also means no file remains on the hard drive as the files are edited directly in the Safe folders.

Losing an iPhone is always painful, even if you only take the financial aspect into account. When you get the best phone encryption software like SimpleumSafe, you can be sure that sensitive files are secure if you lose your device. SimpleumSafe is also GDPR-compliant, which means you are protected if your device gets compromised while carrying other people’s sensitive data.

Perhaps the best feature is the easy connectivity and file syncing between all of your Apple devices. There are three ways you can connect your iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices – through the iCloud, through Wi-Fi (this requires no internet connection), and through a shared folder (only Mac-to-Mac). Using Simpleum’s simple interface, you will be able to share, edit, and update encrypted files between your devices with ease.

For a mere $36, you’ll get the best encryption software for iOS and Mac. When you consider how much you’ve already invested in your Apple device, it only makes sense to boost its safety. Also, students get a 30% discount from SimpleumSafe.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the process of scrambling a message according to a rule, called a cipher or encryption algorithm. The encrypted message is only legible to a receiver who possesses the tools to decrypt it. The study and practice of encryption is called cryptography. Encryption is as old as written language. As soon as we could exchange written messages, we needed a way of making them private and illegible to anyone but the receiver.

The simplest and best encryption is a substitution cipher. Each time the letter ‘A’ appears in a message, substitute it for a ‘T,’ for example. Assign a substitution for each character and voilà! You’ve got a message that is only legible to those who know the cipher.

This cipher, or encryption algorithm, is the most rudimentary method of encryption. It can serve as a basis for more complex ciphers, like the famous Enigma of the German WWII effort. But, as the results of the war show, these codes are crackable.

Advances in computer technology have allowed for much more sophisticated and tougher-to-crack ciphers. It’s also opened up a whole world of possibilities when it comes to cybersecurity.

What are the types of encryption?

There are two main encryption types: private key and public key encryption.

Private key (Symmetric) — The same key is used for encrypting and decrypting a message. The main task for conducting this type of encryption is safely sharing the key between both parties before exchanging messages.

Public key (Asymmetric) — This is one of the most secure encryption methods to date. This system uses a pair of keys — one for encryption and another for decryption. The sender uses the receiver’s public key to encrypt the message. As its name suggests, this key is not secret and is available to anyone who wants to send a message to its owner. The recipient then uses their private key to decrypt it, and the key is kept secret by its owner.

A hierarchical system of policies, authorization levels, and roles used to establish a secure network is called a public key infrastructure (PKI).

Summary

If you have sensitive data on your devices and often send it to others, it only makes perfect sense to get one of the best drive encryption software for added security. However, do keep in mind that there is no such thing as absolute safety. Even with these extra precautionary measures, you should still be careful and vigilant in the same way that having airbags in your car doesn’t imply you should hit the first wall you see.

If you combine your sound judgment with the best available security software, you create a combination that no hacker can beat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best encryption software?

The market is continuously growing and changing, so the encryption solutions that are the best today might not be the best tomorrow. However, we can say with certainty that the best on the market currently are AxCrypt Premium, Simpleum Safe, Jetico BestCrypt, Boxcryptor, and VeraCrypt.

It’s hard to say which one is the best because it all depends on users’ needs, but you won’t be disappointed with any of these brands. You can choose to lock individual files or lock entire folders, disk partitions, or external memory units.

What is the most powerful encryption?

AES 256 — whether you’re a paranoid inventor locking your patents away from your imaginary arch-nemesis, or a government agency employee handling national threat-level security, the Advanced Encryption Standard 256 is what you need.

Without getting into too much detail, AES 256 ciphers operate on the same basis as simple elementary school substitution ones, only on a much larger and more complex scale.

AES 256 encryption means this encryption uses 256-bit keys. We will not confuse you with “atoms in the universe” comparisons of how strong these encryption methods are. If they’re good enough for the US Government (and they are), they’re good enough for you.

The software we listed on this page all includes 256-bit encryption. The only thing you need to worry about is keeping your password safe and hidden.

Can AxCrypt be hacked?

AxCrypt does not protect you from hacking, but it makes the data unusable for the bad guys because they can’t open it without the appropriate key. It uses 128-bit and 256-bit encryption to protect your files and is resistant even to brute force attacks.

Brute force attacks are a kind of attack where the hackers use software that unleashes billions of possible passwords and keys and is considered one of the most dangerous types of cyber attacks.

How much does encryption cost?

The price of encrypting depends on the encryption type and software. For instance, Steganos Safe costs $31.16; Folder Lock $30.79; AxCrypt Premium $35, Simpleum Safe $36, and high-end solutions like Jetico BestCrypt start at $100. Many companies offer free trials and even free plans. The Boxcryptor Personal Package costs $48, but you can get a free plan to protect one device.

Do I need encryption software?

It all depends on what you are trying to protect. If you send sensitive data like tax forms, bank accounts, and other similar data via email, then encryption is a good idea. Also, if you have sensitive data on your devices that can be easily stolen, encryption is recommendable.

The thieves are mostly interested in hardware, and they will probably delete everything from the device as soon as they get it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. In these cases, having the best encryption software could make a world of difference.

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