Immediately after finishing Your Ultimate Security Guide: Windows 7 Edition a close friend who’d bought the book called me and asked why I hadn’t included AxCrypt. The answer I gave him was that I was unfamiliar with the program. After looking into it and testing it for a few weeks I’m sorry that I didn’t include it; it will definitely be included in Your Ultimate Security Guide: Windows 10.
AxCrypt uses the AES encryption algorithm (128-bit) and operates entirely from the right-click context menu. When you want to encrypt a file right-click it, find AxCrypt in the context menu, and hover until the flyout appears. The flyout menu allows you the option to Encrypt, Encrypt a Copy, and Enrypt to .EXE, among several other options. Encrypt does exactly what you would think – it encrypts the file. Encrypt a copy creates a new, encrypted copy of the file and leaves the original unencrypted. Encrypt to .EXE allows you to create an executable file that can be opened on a computer that does not have AxCrypt installed. AxCrypt also offers you the ability to use keyfiles in addition to a password, though it restricts the types of files that may be used to keyfiles generated by AxCrypt. If you’ve read Your Ultimate Security Guide: Windows 7 Edition, you know I’m a fan of keyfiles.
Opening a file encrypted with AxCrypt is even easier – just double-click and enter the password (and keyfile if necessary). The file will open where you may view and edit it; closing the file will revert it back to its encrypted state. If you wish to decrypt the file permanently, right click on it, hover on AxCrypt, and select Decrypt from the flyout. After you enter the correct password the file will be decrypted and written in plain text to your hard drive.
AxCrypt also has a “Secure Delete” function that overwrites files with a single, pseudo-random pass. After speaking to Axantum Software founder Svante Seleborg I also learned that it can be configured to do a seven-pass overwrite via the registry, but I will stick to using Eraser for my data erasure needs due to its flexibility and convenience.
If you are looking for a simple, painless application for encrypting individual files AxCrypt is definitely worth considering. AxCrypt is free and available from http://www.axantum.com/AxCrypt/.