The best way to protect sensitive files from prying eyes is – of course – to encrypt them. But you don’t necessarily want to store files in an encrypted container or even encrypt an entire drive, as is the case with TrueCrypt and its ilk.

As its name suggests, Quick Crypt offers a fast and easy way to encrypt – and later decrypt – individual files on the fly. It’s portable so can be taken with you (and your files), but you will need the .NET Framework 4.5 installed on any computer you run the app from.

It’s simple to use on an ad-hoc basis. Fire up the program, then click the button next to Target File to select the file you wish to encrypt, or simply drag it into the dialog box from an Explorer window. Enter a suitable password, add a hint if you think you’ll need it (accepting this reduces the security of your file), then tick "Erase Target File" to delete the original if you wish before clicking Encrypt File to create an encrypted copy with a .qcf file extension.

Decryption is done from within the same program – you’ll find the password hint button to the right of the browse button. You can also use the program to generate a secure password via the clipboard – this will need to be recorded somewhere safe – and Quick Crypt also supports encrypting files using a separate key file for additional security too.

The tool also comes with a secure erase tool for deleting sensitive files more thoroughly than Windows’ own tool. Other options include being able to set the encrypted file to expire after a set period, plus you can tie the file to your main PC by generating a unique System ID, which makes it impossible to open the file on another computer, even if the password is cracked. You can also add a shortcut to the SendTo folder for quickly encrypting selected files too. These settings can also be stored in profiles for easier retrieval.

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If you want a simple file-based encryption tool that doesn’t involve entire drives or encrypted containers, Quick Crypt is well worth investigating.