PC encryption software is a level of security additional to antivirus or internet security software. In other words, file encryption is no defense against malware or phishing attacks. Instead, it provides you with a key to lock your files in such a way that nobody else can open them, unless you provide the key. If someone uses your computer and you do not want them to be able to open certain files, you can lock those files. A thief who takes your laptop will never be able to open any of the files that you encrypted. When you send email attachments, nobody who intercepts the attachments will be able to open them. You provide a password to the email recipient, which allows access to the attachments.

After we looked at the best encryption software for sale, we awarded File Encryption XP with the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for encryption software. It is a winner because of the strength of its encryption, the ease with which you can work with the encryption options, and its additional security features.

File Encryption XP implements the Blowfish encryption algorithm, which was invented by Bruce Schneier as a replacement for DES cryptography when it became apparent that the DES encryption key size was too small to withstand brute-force cracking by supercomputers. In other words, Blowfish is an alternative to 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard and both are successors to the previous DES standard. There are plenty of academic debates as to which is preferable: Blowfish or 256-bit AES. Both are such powerful encryption methods that nobody has ever broken them. And unless quantum computing delivers brute-force decryption performance above and beyond expectations, both methods will stay secure for longer than you will need them.

The functions are integrated with the Windows user interface so you will understand how to accomplish encryptions and decryptions. There is also a utility that lets you install File Encryption XP onto removable media so you can carry your encrypted files with you on a USB drive, for example, and access them from any Windows PC.

File encryption software often includes additional features likely to be useful for security-minded folk. For example, most of the products in our review provide a file shredder because Windows doesn’t actually delete files from the hard disk; it just marks files as deleted so you can’t see them. Unless you use a file-shredding utility that overwrites the areas of the hard disk where the “deleted” files existed, they remain accessible with forensics software or commercially available file recovery utilities. File Encryption XP includes a file shredder because it assumes that if you are interested in encryption, you are interested in file shredding. Also included are a password generator along with a password meter that shows you the relative strength of a proposed password.

There are File Encryption XP FAQs online as well as tutorials and a manual. Unfortunately the only access to the publisher is by email.

File Encryption XP Summary:

File Encryption XP scrambles files so that only you or someone you designate can unscramble them. The benefit to being able to encrypt or decrypt your data is that you control it. If someone steals your laptop after you have already encrypted files that you don’t want to share, your data remains out of bounds to the thief, forever. If you transmit an encrypted file over a network or through the internet, nobody who intercepts the file will be able to open it; only the recipient whom you have entrusted with the unlocking password. File Encryption XP employs a powerful encryption method. It is not the standard that the U.S. government uses, but nobody has cracked it yet, nor are they likely to for another generation.


File Encryption XP 1.7

Security features such as a file shredder and password generator augment the encryption security.

Access to customer support is only by email.

The Verdict:

File Encryption XP conveniently locks files so that only authorized people can unlock them, and it does so with an interface that integrates well with Windows.