Last week I recommended that you take a look at Cryptainer if you need a replacement for the now-defunct TrueCrypt encryption product. A handful of people have suggested that another free program, AxCrypt, is also a suitable replacement, and I promised to take a look at it. So here goes.
AxCrypt is free, and you can download it from http://www.axantum.com/AxCrypt/Downloads.html (but carry on reading first). It's a 3.3 MB download. and should install on all recent versions of Windows.
Unlike TrueCrypt, which creates virtual encrypted drives, AxCrypt works on individual files. If you want to encrypt multiple files, you'll need to do them one at a time, or add them to a zip file and then encrypt the zip. Which, if you've got lots of files but only a handful of them are confidential, actually works very well. Just right-click a confidential file, choose the Encrypt option, and you're done. To open the file with whatever app it's associated with, double-click it as normal, and enter the password when prompted.
However, while AxCrypt provides useful features, it fails one of the key tests here at Gizmo's. According to VirusTotal it's not malware-free, and is actually picked up by 7 of VT's 54 separate scanning engines. In all cases, this is because it uses the OpenCandy system, which attempts to get you to install other programs at the same time (for which the makers of AxCrypt receive a small payment). For this reason alone, I can't recommend that you use the standard, installable version of AxCrypt.
However, on the same download page mentioned above, there's also a portable version. The good news is that this doesn't use OpenCandy. The bad news is that it isn't quite as usable. You don't get "encrypt" and "decrypt" buttons added to all of your Windows Explorer menus. Instead, you have to run AxCrypt, which brings up its own Explorer-like interface, and do everything from there. And because there's nothing installed on your PC, the encrypted files (which have a .axx extension) confuse Windows to the point where it doesn't know how to open them. So double-clicking an encrypted file won't work. You'll need to open it in AxCrypt, decrypt it, then open it in your required application.
AxCrypt2Go, as the portable version is called, provides a useful function, but sadly it's nowhere near as usable as the OpenCandy-infected installable version. Which means, when I get around to abandoning TrueCrypt, I'll probably be sticking with Cryptainer.
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