Software & Apps Apps 3 Best Free Full Disk Encryption Programs Password protect and encrypt an entire hard drive with these free tools By Tim Fisher General Manager, VP, Lifewire.com Tim Fisher has 30+ years' professional technology support experience. He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Tim Fisher Updated April 01, 2020 Apps Best Apps Tweet Share Email Full-disk encryption software encrypts an entire drive, not just a few files or folders. Encrypting your computer's drives keeps your private data away from prying eyes, even if your computer is stolen. You're also not just limited to a hard drive. External devices like flash drives and external hard drives can be encrypted by disk encryption software, too. Windows and macOS both have integrated whole disk encryption programs—BitLocker and FileVault, respectively. In general, we'd recommend that you use those full disk encryption tools if you can. If you can't for some reason, or if your operating system's included tool doesn't offer a feature you'd like, one of the free disk encryption programs below might be for you. 01 of 03 TrueCrypt What We Like Free software. Works cleanly. Has been audited as secure. What We Don't Like Can be unnecessarily complex at times. No longer supported. Our Review of TrueCrypt TrueCrypt is a powerful disk encryption program that supports hidden volumes, on-the-fly encryption, keyfiles, keyboard shortcuts, and more awesome features. Not only can it encrypt whole disks of data at once, but it can also encrypt the system partition that has an OS installed. Furthermore, you can use TrueCrypt to build a single file that acts as a drive, complete with its own encrypted files and folders. If you're encrypting the system volume with TrueCrypt, which is the partition you're actively using, you can still carry on with regular activities while the process completes in the background. This is really nice considering how long it takes to run a full disk encryption on large amounts of data. TrueCrypt works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, as well as with Linux and Mac operating systems. Download TrueCrypt The developers of TrueCrypt are no longer releasing new versions of the software. However, the last working version (7.1a) is still very much available and works great. We have more on this in our review. 02 of 03 DiskCryptor What We Like Free software that's easy to use. Supports keyfiles. Supports RAID arrays. What We Don't Like User interface is antiquated. Additional tools aren't always helpful. One massive glitch. Our Review of DiskCryptor DiskCryptor is one of the best free disk encryption program for Windows. It lets you encrypt the system/boot volume as well as any other internal or external hard drive. It's also really simple to use and has some pretty neat, unique features. In addition to password protecting a partition, you can even add one or more keyfiles to it for increased security. Keyfiles can be in the form of files or folders and, if set up as such, are required before mounting or decrypting a volume. Data on a volume encrypted using DiskCryptor can be viewed and modified while the drive is mounted. There is no need to decrypt the whole drive just to access the files. It can then be dismounted in seconds, which renders the drive and all data on it unusable until the password or keyfile(s) are entered. Something we particularly like about DiskCryptor is that if your computer reboots while a drive is mounted and readable, it automatically dismounts and becomes unusable until the credentials are entered again. DiskCryptor also supports encrypting several volumes at once, can pause encryption so you can reboot or remove a hard drive during the process, works with a RAID setup, and can encrypt ISO images to produce encrypted CDs/DVDs. The only thing we don't like very much about DiskCryptor is that it has a major glitch that could render your encrypted system volume unusable. It's important to recognize this problem before encrypting a partition that's used to boot into Windows. More about this in our review. DiskCryptor works on Windows 10 through Windows 2000, as well as Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2012. Download DiskCryptor 03 of 03 COMODO Disk Encryption What We Like USB authentication supported. Straightforward program without unnecessary extra features. What We Don't Like Only one password. Won't work on Windows 10. Our Review of COMODO Disk Encryption The system drive, as well as any attached hard drive, can be encrypted with COMODO Disk Encryption. Both drive types can be configured to require authentication by password or a USB device. Using an external device as authentication requires it to be plugged in before you're given access to the encrypted files. One thing we don't like about COMODO Disk Encryption is that you can't choose a unique password for each encrypted drive. Instead, you must use the same password for each one. You can change the initial password or USB authentication method any time you want but it, unfortunately, applies to all the encrypted drives Windows 2000 up through Windows 7 are supported. COMODO Disk Encryption will unfortunately not install to Windows 8 or Windows 10. Download COMODO Disk Encryption Program updates to COMODO Disk Encryption shouldn't be expected because the program has been discontinued since 2010. Choosing one of the other full disk encryption programs in this list, if you can, is probably a better idea. Encrypting NAS Drives That Network Attached Storage drive you've got in the corner also supports encryption, but before you install encryption software, explore whether the NAS itself supports on-board encryption. If more than one computer accesses the NAS, it's generally more efficient to let the NAS manage encryption than to require each client computer to manage a shared encryption space simultaneously.