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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management, Security Help

For the longest time, I’ve been looking for a free program that would allow me to safely encrypt certain files on my computer. I have tried many different freeware options, but none were as secure or as easy to use as the program I’m going to show you today. It’s called AxCrypt and it’s bursting with magnificent features. Let’s check it out, shall we?!

1.) If you want to begin encrypting or password protecting your files, you’ll get some good use out of AxCrypt. Here’s the download link.

2.) Follow the setup instructions and after it has completed, exit out of the setup wizard.

3.) If you already have a folder with all of the files you want to encrypt, that’s great! If not, create a folder and then continue to step 4.

4.) Right click on the folder and scroll down to AxCrypt. Next, select Encrypt and a box will prompt you to enter and confirm a password.

Do that and then click OK.

5.) Now, open your folder and you’ll notice that the icons have changed. Double click on one of the files and once again, you’ll be asked for your password. The file will only open if the password is entered.

6.) While using a password to secure your files is a good idea, a key-file is even more secure. A key-file is a special text file containing a random string of characters, which is your key. The file is placed on a USB drive, which means the encrypted folder can only be opened if the USB drive is plugged in and AxCrypt is pointed to the correct key-file. If that sounds a little too complicated, don’t worry! It will all make sense once you’re finished.

7.) So, go ahead and plug in your USB drive (flash drive) if you have one. You can also use a floppy disk if you’d like. Right click on your encrypted folder, click AxCrypt, then Make Key-File.

8.) Find the directory for your USB drive and click Save. Open the Encrypt dialogue box again and enter your password twice. Also, where it says Key-File, choose the one you just saved on your USB drive and click OK.

9.) Now, when you try to open a file in the encrypted folder, you will be prompted to select the key-file. Someone who doesn’t have access to your USB drive will not be able to open the files, even if they do know your password.

10.) You feel safer already, don’t you?! It’s good to know that all of your private documents can only be accessed if the USB drive is present. It’s very important for you to never accidentally delete the key-file. It’s actually a good idea to make a copy of it and keep it on another disk somewhere safe.

11.) Finally, I have one last feature to show you! Have you ever felt a little leery about deleting files with sensitive information? You wouldn’t want that information to reach the wrong hands, now would you? Luckily, AxCrypt contains a shredding feature that overwrites the deleted files with random information.

12.) If you want to “shred” a file, right click on it, choose AxCrypt and then select Shred and Delete. That’s it!

I hope you enjoy AxCrypt. Stay safe!

~ Neil Patel

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