Best Encryption Software of 2018

Nicole Johnston ·
Internet Security & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent more than 60 hours testing and reviewing encryption software. We believe Folder Lock is the best encryption software overall because it is very secure and easy to use, plus it includes a password recovery feature. It also has extra privacy features, like a file shredder, stealth mode and a virtual keyboard. If you’re a Mac user, we suggest you use Concealer to encrypt your files. And if you need to use encryption programs on more than one computer, Secure IT is the best value because it comes with multiple user licenses.   

Best Overall
Folder Lock
Folder Lock is our top pick for encryption software because it makes both encrypting and decrypting files easy, works fast and uses the very secure 256-bit AES algorithm..
View on Folder Lock
Best Value
Secure IT
Secure IT compresses files while securing them and uses the most secure encryption algorithm to protect your information. It comes with three user licenses, making this program the best deal.
View on Cypherix
Best for Mac
Concealer
Concealer is compatible with Mac, uses the strongest encryption algorithm available and compresses your files as it secures them. It also comes with a password generator and a password strength meter.
View on Belight Software

Product
Price
$39.95Newsoftwares.Net
$59.95Cypherix
$19.99Belightsoft
$39.95Reneelab
$49.95Kruptos2
$39Sensiguard
$39.7Cryptoforge
$29.95Cp-Lab
$49.95Aeppro
$29.99Espionageapp
OVERALL RATING
9.4
9.2
9.2
9
8.8
8.7
8.6
8.5
8.3
7.9
Value
8.3
10
10
8.3
9.5
8.3
8.3
8.8
7
8.8
Performance
9.8
10
9.3
9
8.8
8.3
9
8.5
8.8
8.5
Security
10
6.8
8
10
8
10
8
8
9
5.8
Minimum Number of Devices
1
3
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
Speed
1
0.85
0.77
0.9
0.9
0.7
0.75
0.77
0.8
0.74
Ease of Use
1
1
0.9
0.9
0.8
0.6
0.9
0.9
0.7
0.9
File Compression
0.9
1
0.96
0.8
0.8
1
0.9
0.96
1
1
File Shredder
True
True
True
True
True
True
True
True
True
False
Password Generator
False
False
True
False
True
False
False
True
True
False
Password Strength Meter
True
True
True
True
True
True
True
False
True
True
Password Recovery
True
False
False
True
False
True
False
False
False
False
Encryption Algorithm Type
256-bit Key AES
256-bit Key AES
256-bit Key AES
256-bit Key AES
256-bit Key AES
256-bit Key AES
256-bit Key AES
384-bit Key AES
256-bit Key AES
256-bit Key AES
Self-Extracting Files
True
True
False
True
True
True
True
True
True
False
Stealth Mode
True
False
False
True
False
True
False
False
False
False
Windows 10
True
True
False
True
True
True
True
True
True
False
Windows 8
True
True
False
True
True
True
True
True
True
False
Windows 7
True
True
False
True
True
True
True
True
True
False
Windows Vista
True
True
False
True
True
True
True
True
True
False
Mac OS
False
False
True
False
False
False
False
False
False
True
Best Overall
We picked Folder Lock as the best encryption program because it is easy to use, includes the best security features and has plenty of tools to protect your sensitive information. It costs a bit more than other programs, but it also has a lot more features.
To encrypt files, you simply drag and drop them into Folder Lock, but you can also right click on the file you want to encrypt and see an option to secure it using Folder Lock. It took less than six seconds for the program to scramble our test files. While we only encrypted 128MB of data, it would only take a few minutes to secure several gigabytes. Once your files are encrypted, the program hides them so anyone who connects to your computer remotely or hacks into your system can’t see them. Also, Folder Lock uses the highest encryption algorithm available. Folder Lock includes a file shredder, virtual keyboard and password strength meter, which helps you create strong passwords to your files. It is one of the only programs we reviewed that lets you recover your passwords if you forget or lose them – with other software, if you lose your password you lose your encrypted data.
Pros
  • Encrypts fast
  • Has a virtual keyboard
  • Includes password recovery
Cons
  • Compresses files less than competing software
  • Doesn’t have a password manager
  • Costs more than other encryption programs
$39.95Folder Lock
Read the full review
Best Value
Secure IT is inexpensive, comes with three user licenses and securely encrypts your data.
It compresses files as it encrypts them making them 3 percent smaller. This makes them slightly easier to share in emails or save to USB drives. While it isn’t the fastest program we reviewed, Secure IT only took about 20 seconds to scramble our 63 test files. You can create self-extracting files, including those in EXE, RAR and ZIP formats, using Secure IT. These aren’t secure like encrypted files, but this feature makes it easy to compress less sensitive data, or share secured information with others that don’t have a deciphering program on their computer. The program’s files shredder destroys any type of files. You choose the number of passes the files make through the shredder – the more passes they make, the less likely hackers are to find any track of the information. Secure IT is compatible with all versions of Windows including Vista and XP.
Pros
  • Comes with three user licenses
  • Encrypts using 256-bit key AES algorithm
  • Includes a file shredder
Cons
  • Is slower than other programs
  • Doesn’t have password recovery
  • Can’t run in stealth mode
$29.95Cypherix
Read the full review
Best for Mac
Concealer is designed specifically for Mac computers, and while it takes longer to encrypt files than other programs do, it compresses them as it encrypts to free up storage space on your computer.
This Mac encryption software performed well in our ease of use tests, and we were impressed with the number of file formats it can encrypt, including text files and tax forms. You can create categories and save encrypted files under them to keep your information organized. Also, you can customize and attach a card to each encrypted file so you know what it contains without decrypting it first. You have the option to secure the whole database with a master password, or you can secure each card file with its own unique pass key. Because Concealer is a Mac program, it doesn’t have as many security features as those compatible with Windows. For example, it doesn’t have a file shredder or a password recovery option. It also doesn’t let you create less secure self-extracting files like EXE, RAR or ZIP. However, Concealer encrypts your files using the most secure 256-bit AES key and includes both a password generator and a strength meter, which helps you create passwords that are difficult for hackers to figure out.
Pros
  • Mac compatible
  • Easy to use
  • 256-bit AES security
Cons
  • No file shredder
  • No way to recover lost or forgotten passwords
  • Much slower than other encryption programs
$17.95Belight Software
Read the full review

Why Trust Us? 

We have been testing computer security and privacy programs for over 15 years. When we review encryption software, we consult with experts in the computer security industry as well as businesses that use encryption software daily, including those in healthcare, education and government industries. Their expert knowledge and experiences, as well as our own in-house tests, help us understand the many uses of encryption software, security levels and requirements, and the tools to look for when choosing a program.

One expert we spoke with is Marjorie Smith, a medical service software administrator for a Virginia-based company that assists doctors, hospitals and clinics with medical billing. Because personal medical information is communicated, both in-office and electronically, Smith and her team are bound by the Health Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, laws and regulations.

Smith explained that HIPAA requires any information that is sent electronically regarding a patient must first be encrypted. Smith also explained that since IT personnel can connect to her computer remotely, files and documents stored on her computer must be encrypted.

One important feature Smith says is essential is a password recovery feature. Because HIPAA requires workers to change their passwords for programs used for storing or sending patient information several times a year, including encryption software, it’s easy to forget passwords. If you don’t have a good IT department at your disposal, which isn’t included with encryption software, a password reset feature is essential.


How We Tested? 

We tested each program by encrypting 63 files – a total of 128MB of data saved on Windows computers or 134.5MB on Mac machines. We chose programs that encrypted quickly and integrated well with our computers’ operating systems. And while some programs offer a less secure, free program, we tested the premium versions to get a feel for all the security features available.

Encrypting such a small batch of files only took seconds in most cases. However, some programs took minutes to finish the job. In each case we took our results and used them to determine the average time it would take each program to encrypt 1GB of information. Speed isn’t a big deal when you’re locking up a few megabytes of data, but if you’re encrypting gigabytes, a slow program could leave you waiting for hours.

We clocked decryption speed and found that most programs let you access your files quickly. However, in the case of SensiGuard, we had to wait more than six minutes for both encryption and decryption.

Some of our testing included evaluating the security features of each program, particularly those involving passwords. We ranked products based on if they only require a single master password, or let you assign a unique password to each encrypted file. We also looked for password generators and strength meters. A useful feature that most programs don’t include is a password recovery option that helps you still access your files even if you forget your password. We gave extra credit to encryption programs that include this unique, but important function.

Key Features of Encryption Software 

Version Compatibility
If your computer runs an older version of Windows, such as Vista or XP, make sure the encryption program supports your operating system. On the flip side, you need to make sure you choose software that has changed with the times and supports the latest versions of Windows, including 8 and 10.

While all the programs we tested are compatible with every version of Windows, we feel that SensiGuard is a good choice for older computers because it only has the most essential tools and won’t bog down your old PC. Plus, it is easy to move to a new computer if you choose to upgrade. However, it takes a while to encrypt and decrypt files.


If you have a Mac computer, you need a program that is designed specifically for that operating system – none of the programs we tested are compatible with both Windows and Mac machines. We believe Concealer is the best option for Macs, but Espionage 3 is also a good choice.

Mac encryption software doesn’t have as many extra security features as Windows programs. They typically lack virtual keyboards, self-extracting file creators and password recovery tools. Mac programs also take a lot more time to secure files compared to Windows software.

Security
Encryption software uses different types of ciphers to scramble your data, and each has its own benefits. Advanced Encryption Standard, or 256-bit key AES, is used by the U.S. government, including the National Security Agency (NSA), and is one of the strongest ciphers available. It scrambles each bit of information. Blowfish and its newer version, Twofish, are encryption algorithms that use block ciphers – they scramble blocks of text or several bits of information at once rather than one bit at a time.

The main differences between these algorithms are performance and speed, and the average user won’t notice the difference. Blowfish and Twofish can’t encrypt large files, so if you need to secure gigabytes of data, use AES encryption. Blowfish and Twofish algorithms are considered practically unbreakable, though given enough time and computing power, both could theoretically be broken.

AES has long been recognized as the superior algorithm and is required for financial institutions, schools, government agencies and healthcare facilities that deal with sensitive personal information. Because of this we preferred programs that use it and ensured these were included in our final choice of the best encryption software.

When Is a Free Program Enough?
Many free file encryption programs exist, and they might be strong enough for your needs. We tested VeraCrypt and Windows’ built-in encryption solution BitLock. These are bare-bones programs that allow you to protect your files and nothing else – they don’t have a file shredder, password generator or password strength meter. Also, these applications are less intuitive than their for-pay counterparts. The paid versions walk you through every step and have easy-to-read help files and tutorials.

So, if you’re comfortable and familiar working with certificates and keys to encrypt files, BitLocker may work well for you. VeraCrypt’s system encrypts in volumes and allows you to create a hidden, encrypted volume within another encrypted file.

All-In-One Security & Norton Security Premium
Just like there is a place for free encryption software, there is a time when an all-in-one security program is the best solution for you. Norton Security Premium is the best computer protection program available, and we’ve physically tested it with live internet threats to make sure it works as it claims. Norton Security blocks malware, including ransomware, rootkits and viruses, from infecting your computer. It includes spamware to keep harmful messages from hitting your email inbox, and has a powerful firewall to keep hackers and snoops out of your system. Norton Security Premium also includes encryption tools and secures your files with the highest, AES 256-bit key algorithm.