Non-Horrible Software: AxCrypt

The most you'll need to see of AxCrypt is this right-click menu and the password prompt.

AxCrypt (free, open-source, partially portable) – A seamlessly integrated file encryption utility. It’s getting rare that a genuinely useful bit of security software for Windows isn’t some ad-laden tie-in to a costly subscription product. They pop up ads, make loud noises when they update, and seem to require constant attention because they are, after all, ads themselves. AxCrypt, on the other hand, hardly calls attention to itself at all.

An example: To encrypt a Microsoft Word document, right-click on it, select the appropriate menu option, enter a password, and the file is encrypted as a .doc.axx file. After that, you’re essentially done. Any time you need to open the file, you enter your password, and the file is opened — as a .doc — in Microsoft Word (this is the ‘seamless’ part). Under the covers, AxCrypt has decrypted the file, appropriately renamed it as a .doc so Word doesn’t freak out, and launched Microsoft Word per usual. When you’re done, AxCrypt re-encrypts the file, shredding the temporary .doc first, with no further prompting from you.

Boiled down, this means that any encrypted file basically acts like any other file on your computer, as long as you have the password. It’s almost like AxCrypt isn’t even there. There isn’t even a splash screen. How marvelous.

That’s not all. Right-click a folder, and you can encrypt (or decrypt) every file within it, or even securely shred the whole works. You can open encrypted files on machines without AxCrypt by using a portable AxDecrypt program, or embed a decryption routine within the file itself. AxCrypt has you covered in nearly any situation in which you may want to encrypt files. All this, in an install size that would fit in an email attachment. Utterly indispensable.

Non-Horrible Software is often very small in size and sharply focused on its main use case. It is elegant in function, design, and intent. If you don’t like or need the software, removing it is simple and it leaves no mess behind. No nag screens, bloated runtime dependencies, needless skins, online activation, or other nonsense. Requirements are similar to those of tinyapps.org. Growing list of Non-Horrible Software is available right here.

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