What is data encryption? It means that your data gets scrambled to the point that nobody can use it unless they enter a password to be able to read it. This way no one can steal your personal information, and your files can safely make their way to the intended recipient. Files can be decrypted only with the help of special software, plus there is a special file password that is used for encryption and decryption. Without this password, nobody can get access to the encrypted data.
What type of files could be encrypted? Anything that you want to keep private. It could be bank or tax documents, private photos or even large video files.
Be prepared that encryption of a really large file can take a lot of time. The same is true when you need to encrypt a large number of files. Because of that, data encryption is only practical if you don’t use these files every day.
Do You Really Need Data Encryption?
It’s scary to even think what a disaster it would be if your laptop with all your personal information got stolen. You probably have social security numbers, documents, accounts or bank information stored on your computer. None of us would want to be in that situation.
On the other hand, if there is no personal information on your computer, there is really no need to encrypt your files or hard drive. Data encryption is only needed for people who are really concerned about losing important data or about the fact that someone can get access to their online user account passwords, private photos, or videos.
The process of encryption is identical no matter what software you use for it, and it doesn’t matter why you need to encrypt your data. Just go through the following steps:
- Choose the file or folder for encryption;
- Decide how to secure your data encryption process: password, key file, special USB device or another way.
You can encrypt the entire hard drive, a section of your hard drive or specific files, such as if you want to perform secure file transfer later. Let’s look at these different ways in details.
How to Encrypt Your Hard Drive
If you turn on disk encryption options like Bitlocker on Windows or FileVault on Mac, your files will be encrypted automatically. If not, your OS won’t encrypt anything, because by default file storage encryption is turned off.
There are a lot of different disk encryption programs that can handle everything on your computer: the hard drive, videos, documents, photos and other file types. Before the operating system loads, these programs force a user to enter the decryption password.
Some programs can even isolate a portion of Windows that contains sensitive information. This way you will have two different passwords when your computer boots: one password will take you to the regular OS and the other is just for the part that doesn't have any personal information. This will help protect personal files if someone makes you tell the decryption password.
You can use the TrueCrypt program for a single PC. For a large number of computers, it is better to get McAfee's Complete Data Protection. It offers encryption of the whole disk for both PC and Mac.
How to Encrypt and Send Large Files
Don’t need to encrypt the entire hard drive, but only certain files? There are lots of free software tools that can help with file encryption.
AxCrypt is very popular software to encrypt just a single file. Your file extension will be changed to AXX, and to open the file you will need to provide the password used to encrypt it. This software could be used on a Windows or Mac computer.
7-Zip is another good software for file encryption. Its main purpose is to extract files from formats like ZIP, 7Z, RAR, and other archives. 7-Zip can create compressed files and protect them with a password.
Find more ideas for compression tools here - 5 Best Compression Tools to Prepare for Easy File Transfer.
If you are going to send large files online, the best way is to use FileWhopper. Secure file transfer is the main purpose of this service, which is why FileWhopper will encrypt all your files before sending. Transfer large files with FileWhopper to another computer of yours or to anyone in any location.