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Flashfox, as a user like yourself I found the problem with the old .EXE files is that newer computers: Windows 8 and onwards refuse to start the file because it was considered “untrusted”. My Internet Security program deletes them because they’re not digitally signed and I don’t have a digital signature. It doesn’t delete .AXX files which are the normal encrypted files.
My Windows 10 computer is very strict and SmartScreen won’t even allow me to manually allow my old .EXE files to run because the files are “untrusted” even though I created them myself. It does trust AxCrypt (because they digitally sign their software) so I have to install the AxCrypt software in order to decrypt my files.