If you keep sensitive files and documents on your system then you might want to encrypt it so that no one except you has the access to such confidential files and folders especially when your computer is accessed by other people as well. Encryption gives an additional layer of security to your stored files and folders by means of free encryption software available by some of the reliable vendors on the internet.
Microsoft Windows allows you to set a password on files and folders with its features like Encrypting File System (EFS) and BitLocker but these features are available only on “Professional” and “Enterprise” editions of windows OS.
If your windows version doesn’t support built-in encryption features then you can install a free third-party file encryption program which will do the encryption task for you even if your Windows doesn’t support EFS.
Best 5 Free Encryption Software
There are hundreds of free encryption programs available on the internet but very few are from trusted security providers. As you wouldn’t want to expose your data to unreliable programs, this guide has listed 5 best free encryption software trusted by most of the people on the internet:
WinRAR (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X/Android)
WinRAR by RARLab is the most widely used and is rich in features. Although it is a paid version but you can keep using the program non-commercially after the trial period. It is a powerful tool for creating and managing archives of your data and provides 256-bit of free encryption with 8 to 15 percent better compression ratio than its counterparts. Available on all versions of windows.
You can download WinRAR from RarLab: Download
WinZip (Windows/Mac OSX/iOS/Android/Cloud)
WinZip, a Corel Company, is a classic program and used by most people since the earlier days of Microsoft Windows. It is now upgraded with new features like social media sharing e.g. Facebook and Twitter, Managing ZIP archives on cloud services like Gmail, OneDrive, DropBox etc. to directly upload files on Cloud service. However, since the basic functionality of file encryption is free but you need to pay for premium features.
You can download Winzip from its official website: Download
7-Zip is a very tiny and open-source free encryption software. You can use this program on the commercial basis. With its simple user interface, it provides strong 256-bit free encryption and supports all compression file extensions and Windows versions. It provides 30% better compression ratio than WinZip in its .7z file extension.
You can download 7-zip from its official website: Download
AxCrypt is an open source and licensed free encryption tool for Windows. It is an extremely simple one-click free encryption and efficient program with the support of 128-bit AES encryption. It is useful for people who don’t have knowledge of encryption and compression technicalities.
You can download AxCrypt from its official website: Download
GNU Privacy Guard (Windows/Mac OS X/Linux)
GNU privacy guard is an open-source program. It has dozens of make-over frontends and GUI. Although, it is a technical program but its core feature is that you can encrypt anything from a file to a complete disk, even if it is an external one.
You can download GNUpG from its official website: Download
If your operating system support encryption features like EFS and BitLocker or Disk Utility in Mac OS X then you should use them first. But, if your operating system doesn’t support encryption software you can rely on these free encryption software by trusted companies. Always look for user reviews and feel free to contact their customer service if in doubt.