With so many excellent free tools available, there is no reason not to employ encryption. The following is a list of 35+ free encryption tools worth considering.
In today’s internet-connected society, it’s more critical than ever to safeguard our personal information. Whether personal or professional, our data is constantly at risk of falling into the wrong hands, whether they are those of snoopers such as government agencies interested in monitoring our actions or thieves aiming to benefit from our information.
Encryption is without a doubt the most secure means of storing data. When data is encrypted, it becomes unreadable to anyone who does not possess the decryption key (often a password). Encryption software exists in a variety of flavors, including those used to secure email applications, browser traffic, and even individual passwords. You may encrypt everything on your device, as well as all internet traffic traveling to and from it, by integrating multiple pieces of software.
What’s the best part? Because the majority of this software is free, you won’t have to pay a dime for your peace of mind. I’m going to reveal 35+ free tools that will assist you in encrypting your data in this post. Consider the following.
Encrypt the entire disk
To begin, I’ll discuss one of the most fundamental precautions you can do to secure your data, which is to encrypt your device. For the majority of smartphone and tablet users, device encryption is pre-installed and extremely simple.
Desktop computers may include built-in encryption technologies, as well as numerous alternatives for additional software, depending on the operating system. Although in both circumstances, Windows users typically have more options than MacOS users.
To begin, BitLocker
If you’re a Windows user, you’re probably already familiar with BitLocker, the whole disk encryption software that comes preloaded on Windows Vista, and the Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 7 and higher. It encrypts every data on your hard drive using 128- or 256-bit AES encryption.
Regrettably, BitLocker does not allow you to pick what to encrypt. When you enable the software, all files on your device are encrypted when you log out. However, after you enter your password, everything is decrypted.
This is a reasonable approach if you are concerned about your computer being stolen or someone attempting to gain access to it while you are away. However, this method is ineffective if you want to conceal data while another person is using your computer. Everything is viewable once you’ve logged in.
Another disadvantage of BitLocker is that it is proprietary. This indicates that it may include previously unknown security issues. However, because it is not auditable by the public, there is no way to determine how secure it truly is.
Windows do include an additional encryption utility called Encrypting File System (EFS). This permits you to encrypt specific files, but they remain unencrypted until you login with your password.
- FileVault Version 2
FileVault 2 is essentially the Mac OS X counterpart to BitLocker. It encrypts every data on the drive and uses the user’s password as the decryption key.
FileVault’s home page.
As with BitLocker, there is no option for selective encryption, so this is best suited for those who want to completely encrypt their laptop while logged off.
Are Linux users beginning to feel left out? Not to worry; this one is specifically for you. Linux Unified Key Setup (LUKS) is the industry-standard encryption method for Linux hard disks. It enables users to transport and migrate encrypted data as well as manage various passwords.
VeraCrypt is a complete disk and partition encryption system that provides you complete control over what you encrypt. By default, it employs 256-bit AES encryption, but you can also use Camellia, Kuznyechik, Serpent, or Twofish, all of which need a 256-bit key. Additionally, you can utilize a combination of two or three.
You can use this software to establish two vaults, each with a unique password. The notion is that if someone obtains your “visible vault” password, they will be satisfied. Meanwhile, the data that you truly wish to safeguard is stored in the “secret vault.”
You may be familiar with TrueCrypt; VeraCrypt is its successor. VeraCrypt, like TrueCrypt, is a free and open-source program that anybody can use. If you feel so inclined, you may contribute to the project’s continued operation by making a donation. VeraCrypt is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
CipherShed is a fork of TrueCrypt that is extremely similar to VeraCrypt. CipherShed’s primary advantage is that it is still compatible with TrueCrypt, however, this advantage becomes less significant as TrueCrypt fades into obscurity.
The homepage of CipherShed.
Additionally, CipherShed is not as frequently updated as VeraCrypt and is arguably less secure. It is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux, however, only Windows users can download the package. macOS and Linux users will need to manually compile it. While the CipherShed project is not entirely defunct and is still considered a respectable encryption tool, the majority of users will likely choose VeraCrypt.
DiskCryptor is a free and open-source Windows application. It supports three encryption algorithms: AES, Twofish, and Serpent, each of which uses a 256-bit key. By combining two ciphers, you can achieve double-strength encryption.
The primary advantages of this software are its speed and ease of use. Additionally, it encrypts external storage devices such as USB drives, hard drives, and DVDs.
Although it is open source, little known security analysis has been conducted on it, hence there is some suspicion about its use.
As demonstrated, complete disk encryption is not always the best or most straightforward approach. Additionally, in many circumstances, you merely want to fast and efficiently encrypt a few files or folders. Perhaps you share a computer with employees or family members and don’t want them to snoop on your files. Or perhaps you’re uploading to the cloud and want to ensure the security of your data before entrusting it to a third party.
Regardless, every user should have quick and simple file encryption in their toolbox. The following are some of the most useful free utilities.
MacPaw’s Encrypto is a tool for encrypting files before distributing them by email, messaging platforms, or another method, such as cloud storage sharing. One feature unique to sharing encrypted files is the option to generate a password hint for the recipient, which eliminates the risk of nullifying the encryption factor through the transmission of a password.
Encrypto’s home page.
Encrypto is not limited to delivering encrypted files; you can also use it to encrypt files before to saving them to your device. Encryption is available for Windows and Mac OS X.
Cryptomator is a free and open-source file encryption program, albeit its primary purpose is to encrypt information for cloud storage. Cryptomator is a “client-side” application, which means that the vault of encrypted files is stored on your cloud storage system.
This software employs “transparent encryption,” which essentially implies that you may operate normally with your files. Cryptomator creates a virtual hard drive for you, allowing you to access your files normally. Meanwhile, the encrypted data are kept in a cloud folder on your computer, for example, Dropbox or Google Drive.
Cryptomator updates files on a per-file basis, which means that when your cloud storage system syncs, it only needs to update particular files – those that have changed since the last sync. This can save you time and is especially beneficial if your cloud storage provider or ISP imposes data upload limits.
Cryptomator supports the following operating systems: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, and JAR.
BoxCryptor is an easy-to-use tool for encrypting files and keeping them all accessible. Simply create a folder on your computer and drag and drop the files you wish to encrypt into it. Additionally, you can create a sync folder for the folder in your cloud storage system, such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Boxcryptor’s official website.
Boxcryptor supports Windows, macOS, Chrome, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry and utilizes 256-bit AES encryption.
- Secure Encryption Standard (AESCrypt)
AESCrypt is a free and open-source program for encrypting files and folders. It is compatible with Microsoft Windows, Android, Mac OS X, iOS, Linux, and Python. It secures data with 256-bit AES encryption and is extremely straightforward to use.
This is an excellent option if you only need to encrypt a few specific files. For instance, you may be traveling and wish to ensure that no one can access the contents of particular files if your computer is left open or goes stolen. Additionally, it can be advantageous if you wish to encrypt specific files or folders prior to transferring them to the cloud.
Encrypting files may be as simple as a few clicks and a password entered, or as complex as dragging the file into the AESCrypt application.
- nSecure Cloud
nCrypted Cloud is another option for encrypting files for cloud storage, with apps available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Apart from strong encryption (256-bit AES is used), this software has a robust array of sharing functions.
The home page of nCrypted Cloud.
This software enables you to manage who has access to files and for how long. You can also make changes to the settings after the files are received. Additionally, you receive an audit record of encrypted file activity, including read-receipt notifications when a file is accessed or edited.
nCrypted Cloud is completely free for personal usage, and business options begin at $10 per user per month with a minimum of ten users.
- Enhanced FSMP
EncFSMP enables you to establish an encrypted folder anywhere on your computer and then drag and drop the files you wish to encrypt into it. It does not support as many operating systems as some of the other utilities on the list, but it does support Linux. Additionally, Windows, macOS, and Android are supported operating systems.
Internet communication that is encrypted
We’ve discussed encryption on the device level thus far, but what about the data that goes between your device and other websites when you’re online? With so many snoopers, including internet service providers (ISPs) and hackers, monitoring your online behavior, it’s critical to encrypt data in transit.
There are several other types of software available, including Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), proxies, and anonymous browsers, but I’ll highlight my favorites for each.
- The Tor web browser
The Tor project is a re-implementation of a program developed in the 1990s at the US Naval Research Laboratory. This demonstrates the tool’s security and utility in terms of preserving user privacy and anonymity.
The Tor network enables users to browse online anonymously while also gaining access to portions of the web that are generally inaccessible using ordinary browsers. The most straightforward method of connecting to the Tor network is to download the Tor browser. When you use this browser to access a website, all of your traffic is encrypted and routed across many “nodes” – volunteer-run computers.
Because intercepted traffic is encrypted, it cannot be read, and your activity is untraceable, as a website will see just the IP address of the last computer in the chain.
Tor browsers are available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. Additionally, other Tor-related projects are in active development, including a live operating system (Tails) and a service for obfuscating communications (Pluggable Transports).
- VPN Windscribe
While the Tor browser can help you maintain your anonymity, it has a weakness in that the operator of the entrance node can see your IP address. Utilizing a Virtual Private Network is one way around this (VPN). Indeed, a VPN is a smart option for anyone visiting the web, regardless of whether they utilize Tor.
A VPN encrypts all communication that passes through, too, and from your device and tunnels it via an intermediary server. Because of the encryption factor, if your traffic is intercepted, it will be unintelligible. As a result, internet service providers, network administrators, government agencies, hackers, and other snoopers would be unable to monitor your online activities.
Additionally, a VPN conceals your IP address and replaces it with one from a destination of your choice. This means you can deceive your target website into believing you are in a location you are not and thus circumvent any geo-restriction mechanisms in place. This is especially beneficial if you wish to access geo-restricted content from overseas, such as US Netflix, online banking services, or any other geo-restricted content.
There are plenty of free VPNs accessible, but be cautious as many employ some potentially dubious business practices. Choose a VPN that offers robust encryption and a track record of adhering to a no-logging policy. I’d prefer Windscribe, which offers free access to ten server locations and 256-bit AES encryption.
Windscribe’s main page.
TunnelBear and Speedify are two additional good free alternatives. Even if you choose to pay for a VPN, you can typically find a good option for a few dollars each month.
If you’re not concerned with encrypting all of your device’s traffic and are content with browser encryption, a free proxy server may be a decent solution.
You only need to ensure that the proxy server you choose does indeed encrypt your communication, as there are various different varieties. While DNS, HTTP, and SOCKS proxies encrypt your traffic, HTTPS proxies do not.
Numerous VPN companies include free HTTPS proxies as browser addons. Hide.me is a popular HTTPS proxy, although there are many others. Bear in mind, though, that these only encrypt traffic to and from that specific browser, not your entire device. Additionally, they often do not protect against DNS, IPv6, or WebRTC breaches, all of which can expose your true IP address.
Additionally, before utilizing such a service, thoroughly read the privacy statement. Numerous businesses profit from tracking user behavior and selling customer profiles to ads. A no-logs policy is preferable since it prevents the storage of personally identifiable information.
- HTTPS Is Used Throughout
HTTPS Everywhere is a convenient browser extension developed in collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor project. While it does not provide encryption in and of itself, it does require encrypted connections to websites whenever possible.
HTTPS Everywhere’s main page.
You’ve probably heard that it’s preferable to only access HTTPS-certified websites. A website that begins with “https” rather than “http” in its URL is the bearer of a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, which encrypts all traffic between your browser and that website. While many websites support HTTPS, they frequently fall back to their unencrypted counterparts or provide internal connections to unencrypted HTTP pages.
When you enable the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension, you will be sent to the HTTPS version of the site if one is available. This extension is compatible with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Firefox for Android, and Opera.
If you are even remotely engaged on the internet, you almost certainly have at least one email address. While email appears to be a private mode of communication — especially in comparison to social media — it is actually quite insecure. Because the majority of mainstream carriers do not allow users to encrypt messages, snoopers such as hackers or government agencies may be able to access the contents of your communications.
What, then, can you do about it? Fortunately, the software is available to assist you. Here are a few of the more notable selections.
Perhaps you’re familiar with PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software. OpenPGP, on the other hand, is built on this. This is the industry-standard protocol upon which a large number of other encryption software applications are based. Although OpenPGP is mostly used for end-to-end encrypted email, it can also be used for other purposes such as encrypted messaging and password managers.
The software is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS and is free and open source. Despite its existence since 1997, it is still considered indestructible.
If you intend to develop your own encrypted email program, you will utilize the software. However, for the majority of users, you’ll want to utilize an application built on top of OpenPGP, many of which are free. We’ll cover several of these alternatives in greater detail farther down the list.
- Privacy Guard for GNU
GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG) is a widely used email encryption program that is a PGP implementation. In contrast to Mailvelope, this does allow you to encrypt attachments with PGP prior to uploading them.
GnuPG’s home page.
Because GnuPG is a command-line utility that can be integrated with other apps, it is unlikely to be the first choice for the majority of users. Alternatively, you can download the version that is compatible with your operating system, for example, Gpg4win for Windows.
- gpg4win gpg4win gpg4win
This is the Windows version of GnuPG that I described previously, and it is maintained by the GnuPG developers. It enables you to send encrypted emails and files that are unreadable to prying eyes. Additionally, it supports digital signatures, which ensure that you know who sent a message and that it has not been altered.
Mailvelope is a browser extension that encrypts data using PGP. It connects to your web-based email clients of choice, such as Gmail or Outlook. Within your email editor, you’ll notice an Encrypt option that allows you to select which messages to send securely.
It’s an inconspicuous and simple-to-use extension that’s great for maintaining the privacy of personal or work communications. Mailvelope is available for download in Chrome and Firefox. One disadvantage of this software is that attachments are not encrypted.
If you use Mozilla Thunderbird, you can utilize the Enigmail add-on. It is based on OpenPGP and enables email encryption and digital signatures within Thunderbird.
Enigmail’s home page.
Take note that in order to utilize Enigmail, you must also install GnuPG.
eM Client 6
eM Client is a modern and easy email client that includes PGP support. This is not an add-on and can be used independently as an email client. It has a calendar, tasks, contacts, and chat.
From within the simple-to-use software, you may send encrypted and signed emails. eM Client includes a live backup feature that automatically backs up your data while you work. The software is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X.
Tutanota is another encrypted email client that comes inbuilt with end-to-end encryption. Even the subject, attachments, and contact list are encrypted.
Tutanota’s home page.
Tutanota can be accessed via a web browser or a mobile application for Android or iOS. It is open source and completely free.
CipherMail offers several email encryption products but is likely best known for its Android application. This application can be used in conjunction with your current Android mail application to encrypt and sign emails.
Systems for Encrypted Messaging
While email is far from dead, an increasing number of users communicate using messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. While some popular apps include encryption capabilities, the majority do not. And those that do frequently do not include encryption as a default setting. Fortunately, this is one area where developers have rushed to produce some fairly impressive encryption software. Here are a few of the best.
Signal, from Open Whisper Systems, is a highly respected messaging system known for its security protocol. Indeed, Signal software is used in the applications of other participants in the encrypted communications space, like WhatsApp and Silence. Edward Snowden, a whistleblower and privacy champion, has even commended this company.
The software is open source and has undergone an expert assessment to ensure its competency. It employs 256-bit AES encryption and generates a new AES key for each new message.
Signal’s home page.
The signal is compatible with Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. Apps provide one-to-one or group messaging via voice, text, video, photos, and documents. When using the program, you can specify the intervals after which communications will be deleted, further strengthening security. Additionally, a “safety number” that enables contact verification is included as a security feature.
While WhatsApp is not the most secure messaging system available, it is one of the most popular, and hence worth mentioning. WhatsApp does provide encryption, and as previously stated, its system is based on Signals.
However, there have been reports of security issues and the corporation maintains logs, so users should exercise caution when sharing extremely sensitive information via the site.
WhatsApp is accessible for PCs and Macs, as well as iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices.
Telegram is a relatively popular secure chat system. It supports end-to-end encryption, however, this is not enabled by default. To have their messages encrypted, users must enable the “secure chat” function. It does, however, include a useful additional security feature that enables you to delete messages using a timer.
Telegram is a feasible business solution because it supports groups of up to 75,000 members. It is accessible over the web or through desktop and mobile applications for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
Wickr is a freemium messaging system, but you’ll probably only need to pay if you use it for business purposes. It makes use of end-to-end encryption software that is open source and auditable by the public.
Wickr’s home page.
The software includes a “self-destruct” feature that allows you to specify when messages or files become inaccessible. It runs on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS X, and Ubuntu.
Additional encryption tools
I’ve discussed some of the most popular reasons for encryption, but there are more reasons to encrypt data. In this section, I’ll discuss a variety of tools that may be useful for personal or commercial use.
While backing up is not typically the first thought that comes to mind, it is a critical step. It’s always the last thing you wish you’d done. The primary advantage of online backup is that your data is saved fully independently of your device and is therefore safe from harm. The primary disadvantage is that you must now trust a third party with all of your data.
Duplicati’s home page.
That is where encryption enters the picture. Numerous internet backup solutions will automatically encrypt your data. While the majority will fee for this privilege, there are several free solutions available that will encrypt your backups.
Duplicati is one such piece of software. This software, which is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, uses 256-bit encryption to encrypt and back up your files and folders. It will do incremental backups and eliminate duplication of data, allowing you to conserve valuable storage space. It is open-source and free to use for personal or commercial purposes.
Although OpenSSL is a software library, it provides an open-source implementation of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols.
Versions for a variety of operating systems, including Linux, macOS, and Windows, are available. However, for many users, utilizing OpenSSL directly would be impractical. Fortunately, Let’s Encrypt (see below) makes it easier for website owners to secure an SSL certificate.
- Encryption Let’s Encrypt
I mentioned HTTPS previously, and if you’re a website owner, you’re probably interested in offering a secure HTTPS version of your website. Let’s Encrypt makes this possible for free. If you own a domain name, you can purchase an SSL certificate with Let’s Encrypt.
Let’s Encrypt’s overarching goal is to create a more secure web. It’s simple to use and automatically renews, so you can set it and forget it.
One of the most fundamental steps toward online security is creating secure passwords. However, people frequently use weak passwords and the same one for several accounts, simply because remembering them all is too difficult.
LastPass’s home page.
A password manager simplifies the process by remembering all of your passwords and automatically filling them in when you log into an account. Naturally, if you’re trusting a third party with your password, you want to ensure they’re encrypting it securely. LastPass accomplishes this by encrypting your passwords using 256-bit AES encryption.
It features an easy UI and is compatible with both mobile and desktop devices. LastPass’s basic offering is absolutely free, and even if you choose to upgrade to the premium version, the monthly fee is only $2.
Dashlane and KeePass are two other excellent freeware password managers.
- Secure USB Flash Drive
USB Flash Security is a useful application for encrypting flash drives. It’s free for personal use, but business use requires a premium upgrade. The free version encrypts up to 4GB of data. Take note that this tool is only compatible with Windows-based systems.
VeraCrypt is still secure, isn’t it?
While VeraCrypt is not the best option for the majority of consumers, it is still one of the top encryption software options. The choices are unparalleled, allowing you to encrypt and store your information any way you like.
Which free encryption program is the best?
2022’s best encryption software: Tools and services available for free, for a fee, and for business
OneDrive is a Microsoft product. Maintain the security of your documents.
Folder Security Lock. Individuals can use AxCrypt to encrypt their data effectively. VeraCrypt provides encryption for small teams and individuals. Everyone has access to free encryption… Secure IT 2000. Compression and encryption.
Is there a free encryption program available?
Boxcryptor. Boxcryptor is a popular free file encryption program with a unique twist: it encrypts files from beginning to end for cloud storage providers. BoxCryptor encrypts, edits, and decrypts data on over 30 cloud storage providers using AES 256-bit and RSA encryption.