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Keeping your files secure was a very simple task in some few years back. In the past, you could easily move the files to a thumb drive; remove all duplicate copies of the file, and save the thumb drive in a safe location. However, data security had to adapt to usability as technology has advanced. That means changing the ways for Cloud sharing and storage.

At times, moving your secure documents and files into Cloud storage can be risky; however, you can easily avoid the risk with proper data encryption. So in case you are new to the area of data encryption and Cloud storage, you should read about it and try it out. Since there are many different encryption methods to keep your Cloud-based files safe and secure. 

In this article, I will explain what the term Encryption means briefly and how you can use three ways to encrypt your cloud files.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it. It translates plain text data (plaintext) into something that appears to be random and meaningless (ciphertext). In an encryption scheme, the intended information or message, referred to as plaintext, is encrypted using an encryption algorithm, generating ciphertext that can only be read if decrypted. Decryption is the process of converting ciphertext back to plaintext. So to read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it.

All files or data on a computer exists as a sequence of characters that gets interpreted by a variety of programs on your computer. Encryption uses a programmed pattern to change those characters in its most basic form, scrambling them so they can’t be used. So only the user who has the encryption key which is usually accessed with a password can unscramble the data again with the encryption key. Encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security.

Encryption is used exclusively by security techs or experts before, but, encryption is a tool that is now used by the masses. A security expert at ATTSavings, Taylor Miller said, “Encryption is no longer the purview of government officials and hackers; it has never been easier to make your files safe.”

There are many ways used to encrypt data, however, the most secured one is the Advanced Encryption Standard. Cloud files can be encrypted in AES in three methods: native password-based encryption, app-based encryption, or Cloud-based encryption.

The first two methods will be first of all encrypted on your computer, then move to the cloud while the third method will be carried out in the cloud if the cloud service you are using has the encryption feature.

So here’s a closer look at each method.

Method 1: Native, Password-Based Encryption

Have you ever used password to protect document like Microsoft Office? If you have, then, you’ve used a form of native encryption. This encryption method is very basic and simple; however, it can be very effective if you’ve use a complex, hard-to-crack password to encrypt it. Most documents such as Word, Excel, Adobe Acrobat and PowerPoint all have password-based encryption options.

Now if you want to encrypt Microsoft office document, just open the document, then head over to developer tab and click on “Protect Document”. To encrypt pdf files on Adobe Acrobat, you’ll need to get the plugin, however you can encrypt pdf files through Microsoft word. Either you convert the pdf file to word , open it and save it as pdf file again or create a word document and save it as pdf document, then from the save as pop up windows you can chose to encrypt it.


Native encryption is very easy to use as you don’t have to use another program to handle the encryption process.

Native encryption does not need any other external software, and other users can only have access to your files by just knowing the password you used to encrypt it.


There may not be a native encryption option because it depends on the program you’re working. Some may not while you’ll have to download a plugin to do that on some like Adobe Acrobat.

Also, generally encrypted files may possibly run into compatibility problems between different versions of the same software. So keep that in mind.

Some software doesn’t have AES set as the default encryption standard. So in this situation you may need to change the encryption setting to AES, which assures maximum security.

Then you can move the encrypted file or documents to cloud storage.

Method 2: Application-Based Encryption

In case you want to go a step beyond native, password-based encryption because of the limitations and stress, you can consider using an encryption software application. With this app, you can encrypt any document or files regardless on what program it is compatible with or can open them. These apps are now extensive and very user friendly in these recent years. Some programs may let you to encrypt entire folders or directories, giving an automatic encryption for any additional files uploaded to those locations.


It let you encrypt most files, regardless of the programs they come from or compatible with.

You may be able to encrypt many files at once depending on the software you are using.

Some of this software also let you choose your level of encryption.


Now in case you want to share the encrypted files, the users you want share with may perhaps need to have the same encryption software installed.

Using a program commercially usually requires you to purchase the commercial license, which can be very expensive except you’ll be using for personal use since many encryption packages are free for private use.

Also, you will likely need to move the files out of the Cloud storage before editing them to guarantee appropriate encryption.

Method 3: Cloud-Based Encryption

Some Cloud Storage services like Google Drive have built-in encryption feature to protect your file/data online. This is the easiest method you can use to encrypt your files as long as the cloud storage services you are using have the feature. It also helps to effectively doubles up on the protection you’ve already got on your files. Note this that not all Cloud storage providers offers the encryption feature, so you’ll need to clarify what security protocol your host uses i.e if they use any.


Cloud-based encryption allows for encryption of any file similar to the application-based encryption method, no matter which program the file or data is coming from or compatible with.

Then encryption may be automatic on most cloud storage service i.e. if they offer the encryption feature.

Of course, you don’t need any additional programs to decrypt the data you want to access.

Your colleagues or co-workers can easily access the Cloud-encrypted files without any compatibility issues. All they need is the password to access the Cloud storage hosting account.


Using encrypted Cloud hosting commercially will probably need additional money for licensing similar to encryption software.

Several Cloud storage services store encryption keys internally, which can be very troublesome if the cloud storage services host faces a data breach.

Lastly, Cloud Storage hosting makes teamwork especially long-distance teamwork much easier. However it needs specialized security to back it up and secure it. Luckily for us, encryption is a great means to avoid some of those Cloud-based storage risks. You can use any of the above methods to encrypt your cloud files.

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