Free file encryption tool

Encrypt and decrypt files with this powerful freeware.

Advanced Encryption Package Pro (AEP PRO) is a powerful file encryption utility. Crypt4Free is a freeware version of AEP PRO. Though it doesn't offer as many features as the pro package, Crypt4Free has the essentials most users need to encrypt and decrypt files and text messages, including messages sent via e-mail, IM, or chat. It works with every kind of file and medium, and includes the ability to zip and unzip files. While AEP PRO offers 20 algorithms, Crypt4Free only offers two, DESX (128-bit) and Blowfish (448-bit), as well as fewer file-erasing options and fewer features in general. However, it's easy to use and more than up to handling most jobs.

Crypt4Free has a clean, efficient layout anchored by an expanding Explorer-style view of all our system's disks. The interface has options for applying filters, setting the output folder, choosing an algorithm, and entering a password, including a text field for a Riddle, i.e., a hint. Simple command buttons labeled Encrypt, Decrypt, Delete, ZIP, and E-mail setup each basic function. The program is easy to use: We browsed to and selected a file to encrypt, opting to have the encrypted file created in the same folder as the target file instead of creating a custom directory. We could also choose to have the program pack the file before encrypting it as well as delete the source file when the job was done. The password tool rated our password for strength as we created it, a nice extra. We clicked the large Encrypt Now button. The program quickly encrypted our file, displaying a log of the process in a bottom window. We then selected the file, chose Decrypt, entered our password, and clicked Decrypt Now, which restored normal access to the file. After that, we tried an image file. We clicked E-mail, which let us send our encrypted file as an attachment via our regular e-mail client.

Crypt4Free may be a reduced version of a pro package, but that doesn't mean it has nothing extra to offer. Under Tools, we found a Password Generator, Clear Computer History tool, and Tray Agent (system tray access) as well as a Command Prompt. An excellent Help file answered all our questions. Crypt4Free proved an effective freeware encryption solution.

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