It comes as no great surprise that an increasing amount of people are becoming more concerned about their data files. With so many different pieces of important or private information stored across multiple files, having any of this exposed to the wrong person could pose a major security risk. Unfortunately, it isn’t just who might use your work or home computer after you who might have access to this data, but other users on a local network or malicious software from the internet can also possibly view this information.
Whether you are someone who wants to keep private and confidential data at your business or place of work, or simply want to keep your personal files away from other users on the same computer, protecting these files is highly desirable. This where utilities come into play that can password protect these files so nobody else but the user who encrypted them can access the information inside.
When it comes to encryption software, there’s a lot of it around. As password protecting important files is something everyone should be able to do, having a simple to use piece of software is a good thing. Encoding Decoding Free is a very easy tool to encrypt private and personal files making the task something even the more technically challenged can do without problems.
The program is able to encrypt just about any type of file, but not folders so if you need to protect whole batches of files or drives, this isn’t a very efficient tool for that. If you or anybody else inputs the wrong password to decrypt a file, it will be output as a file, but the contents are unreadable. This makes brute force attacks to decrypt the file so time consuming because there is no error message that they are rendered useless. This is obviously very good for security, but a bit frustrating decrypting a large file and you put in a wrong character!
Encoding Decoding Free is available as an Installable program or portable so can also be used on the go from a USB stick. Be aware that any Explorer context menu shortcuts and the ability to decrypt a file by double clicking on it will only be available if you install.
To password encrypt a file drop it onto the main window. The same can be done through the ‘File’ > ‘Open’ menu and an ‘Encode / Decode files’ option in the Explorer context menu.
A prompt will appear asking for the password to encrypt the file with. There is a useful low, medium and high meter to show you how secure the password is, as well as a ‘Level Protection’ number which increases as the password strength increases. If the password is less than 8 characters, a popup will ask you if you wish to continue with the lower strength password.
The default encryption method is ‘Ultra Encoding 3’. There are others available such as Standard, Ultra Encoding and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 128, 192, or 256 bit methods which can be switched from the ‘Options’ menu.
Once the process is complete, the file will have a new extension depending on which method was used. ‘.cod’ for standard, ‘.cdu/.cdu3’ for Ultra and ‘.AES***’ for AES. The file decryption is simply a complete reverse of the encryption method.
Important Note: As is the nature of encryption software, do not forget your password as you cannot get the file back again without it. As I mentioned earlier, the file will be decrypted even if you enter the wrong password, but the contents will be unreadable. Make sure the file is decrypted successfully before deleting or overwriting important files. Also, because the program is originally in Italian, there are reports of one or two error messages in that language, and right clicking an encoded file will show ‘Apri’ at the top. This is simply ‘open’.
Compatible with Windows 9x,2000,ME,XP,Vista and 7