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5 Best Options for Automated File Encryption

written by: Ada Stoy•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/20/2010

Automated file encryption makes it easy to keep your files secure. Automated file encryption requires no effort on your side and this is its best advantage. There are a couple of approaches to automated file encryption, and they are explained briefly in this article.

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    Do You Need Automated File Encryption?

    Before you start searching for ways to use automated file encryption, you should ask yourself the obvious question if you need automated file encryption or not. Automated file encryption is a great security step, but it could come at a price. What happens if you forget your password and you can't decrypt the files, or if simply the tool you used breaks and it can't be fixed?

    In both cases you lock yourself out of your files, which is a high price to pay for your security. However, if there are tangible security risks for your files – i.e. many people access the same machine and your files are at risk, then you do need to use automated file encryption.

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    What Options for Automated File Encryption Are Available?

    If you have made up your mind that you do need automated file encryption, the next step is to find the right tools. There are many encryption tools out there but aren't many tools to offer automated file encryption. Probably this isn't a coincidence – maybe simply most users prefer to use on-demand file encryption (i.e. only when you explicitly want to) rather than automated file encryption and this is why the choice isn't that rich. However, this certainly doesn't mean that you are out of options for automated file encryption. There are such options and here they are:

    1. Automated file encryption options, which are built-in the operating system or the file system. Depending on the operating system and the file system(s) you are using, it is quite possible that they do have automated file encryption capabilities but if they don't, you can always use disk encryption software. TrueCrypt is an open source disk encryption tool, and it is a great choice when you need to encrypt your drives and all the files on them.
    2. Shell automated file encryption tools. Some encryption products, for instance AEP Pro, come with shell integration (or they have batch files you can configure) to spare you the need to manually encrypt your files.
    3. File encryption automation scripts. Even if you don't have an application, which can encrypt your files automatically, you can find file encryption automation scripts to do the job. For instance, this script encrypts everything in My Documents and Outlook but if necessary, you can modify it to include other folders.
    4. File encryption for the files of a particular application. Some applications offer an option to encrypt their files and you can use it. However, always be cautious because if something goes wrong with the application, you might have no way to decrypt the files, which practically renders them useless.
    5. Automated file encryption for files transferred over the Net. Finally, one of the cases when you really need encryption, is when you are sending files over the Internet. There are FTP applications and other software, which automatically encrypt your Internet traffic, including every single bit of every single file you send, so if you frequently transfer sensitive files over the Net, you do really need such an automated file encryption functionality.

    Automated file encryption has its downsides but if security is of paramount importance, then you should use file encryption. If you insist on an automated file encryption solution, your choice isn't that rich but still there are a few valuable options you can explore.