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FREE encryption tools Windows provides, that protects your data at rest

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Dr Craig Valli and Dr Ian Martinus

Most modern operating systems have the ability to encrypt and protect their storage devices i.e hard drives, SSD, USB, SDCARDs. The features covered in this post are free, nada, zilch or no extra cost for you to use the software. So we STRONGLY recommend you enable it after finishing reading this post. The oft quoted cyber security nightmare is the “lost” laptop or phone which has important corporate secrets stored on them or in the case of phones evidence of close personal contact in the form of texts, messages and imagery.

Or even worse when people dispose of their old devices with storage computers, phones, tablets they do not sanitise or erase them note this not formatting the device. The devices are bought at public auction and then the new owner recovers the files in the case of Craig this was a research focus for about 5 years during his academic career some examples are (Valli & Jones, 2005) (Valli & Woodward, 2007). Note we rarely encountered any form of encryption and file based encryption has been available FREE since Windows XP Service Pack 2 or 2004. So for 90% of computer users there really is no defence about loss of stolen files off computer hard drives even today.


Corporate IT people…simple turn it on through Windows Policy on all AD connected devices by close of business today.

SME/Home users it is very easy to do. The easiest way is to encrypt using folders how easy…well.

Now there is a catch you must protect and backup your “keys”. The first time you do this you will need a blank fresh USB a small one is fine. You will be asked to backup your keys you MUST do this and then store the USB in a secure place and that is not your desk or office.

If you do not you will NOT be able to recover any encrypted files from backups should (well when) your computer or hard drive fails. Do not panic you can backup these keys later if you blazed ahead but please you must back them up as soon as possible and store them in secure place.

yes please click on it and follow the steps

  1. Step 1 Open File Manager

  2. Step 2 Navigate to where you want to store your encrypted files…then create a folder

  3. Step 2 Go to Properties of the folder by right-click and selecting properties Click Advanced

  4. Step 3 Check the Encrypt contents to secure data box and then click OK

Now place any files you want to protect in the new folder and you can access them normally when logged into your device…seriously that simple.

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