Forums Community Encrypting a folder rather than the files in it Reply To: Encrypting a folder rather than the files in it

#8273 Reply

Svante
Keymaster

Hello Joshua and Odessa James,

As mentioned, AxCrypt is indeed file encryption software, and thus encrypts files in a folder – not the folder as such.

VeraCrypt is not a folder encryption software either actually, it’s a volume encryption software – it creates entire encrypted volumes, i.e. ‘drive letters’  in Windows.

There are folder encryption solutions as well, but the problems with them is that the operating system does not have any convenient “hooks” to implement such – a folder is not really a container in a file system even if it looks like one in most cases, it’s actually just an index to files. Most file systems also allow many folders to reference the same actual file.

You can somewhat compare this to the old library system (if anyone around is old enough to remember) where you had the books on the shelves, and then index cards sorted in drawers. A folder would be the index cards for example for one author, and they contain references to what book shelves the actual books are found on.

Although the comparison is not exact, it illustrates the essential problem – in order to encrypt such a system, you have to both encrypt the folder index (which AxCrypt does not), and the separate files (which AxCrypt does). In the computer, the next problem is how to present such an encrypted folder to an operating system which has no intrinsic notion of this.

All is possible, to some extent, but it gets complicated which means expensive to build and maintain and often not as robust.

If you’re using Windows, I might suggest Encrypted File System, which essentially does all this – but it’s also very dangerous because there are many non-intuitive scenarios where the files are lost for ever (for example, windows password reset, re-installation of Windows, moving files to a new computer, etc), unless a complicated procedure called recovery certificate backup is performed, and then restored.