NordLocker, from the makers of the popular VPN service NordVPN, is a powerful yet surprisingly very user friendly file encryption tool. Thanks to its simple ‘drag and drop’ interface, cutting edge encryption, low price point and generous free usage allocation this tool aims to make the process of securing and encrypting files quick and simple for all PC users alike.
April 2021 Update:
Since writing my original review of NordLocker in April 2020, the NordLocker product has evolved to now offer cloud storage as an integrated part of the NordLocker software. This means, whilst NordLocker can still be used locally or via an established cloud providers drive synchronisation folder, the encryption client also provides cloud storage directly from NordLocker themselves.
Be sure to check for more detailed updates about the newer version of NordLocker throughout the remainder of this review!
Key Features of NordLocker
- Well designed, clean and easy to use interface
- Minimal personal details required (just an email address)
- Quick and Easy setup
- Easy to encrypt an entire (existing) cloud storage drive
- Built-in and easy to use secure sharing features
- (New) Generous 3GB free account cloud storage allocation
- (New) Only $3.99 / month with 500GB cloud storage included
- Uses latest in high security encryption (including up to 256bit AES support)
- Licenced per user, 1 licence covers multiple devices
Installing NordLocker is a quick and painless task, there is a free version of the tool available so starting out is simply a case of downloading this installer from the NordLocker website. Once running, the installer takes only a few moments to download the necessary components and install the locker software.
Once installed you will need to setup a NordLocker account (if you don’t already have one), thankfully, as is the nature of NordVPN (the company behind NordLocker) they only ask for the bare minimum of personal details here. To create an account all that is needed is a valid email address and a password (the email address will be validated via a code so it must be working).
Once logged into the tool the first thing we will be asked to do is create a copy of a master recovery key and keep it somewhere safe. It is important to be aware that if you do forget you password NordLocker will not be able to help you access your account, in such circumstances the recovery key will be the only way to access your encrypted files so be aware of this!
Inclusion of Cloud Storage with NordLocker (2021 Update)
One of the big changes since I originally reviewed NordLocker back in April 2020 is the inclusion of cloud storage directly from NordLocker themselves. This means for a small monthly fee of just $3.99 you can get access to the encryption software itself plus an allocation of 500GB of cloud space thrown in.
Furthermore, NordLocker have also upgraded the free version to now include 3G of free cloud storage as well as unlimited local (end-to-end) encryption also!
With this inclusion of cloud storage aside the client itself feels very similar to what it did when last being reviewed, a few tweaks to the interface make finding your way around a little easier than before and, of course, setting up cloud storage can be done with a provider of your own choosing if you don’t want to use the NordLocker storage for whatever reason.
Securing Files and Cloud Storage
With the login and registration out of the way we are finally ready to get started with the application, one of the first things which you will need to do is set up an initial secure locker, this can be on the local PC storage or within a cloud storage drive such as Dropbox.
For the purposes of this review I have opted to setup a new locker on my Dropbox account, this begins with the selecting of “Encrypt files in Dropbox” in the menu pictured above in order to get started. Once this is selected the next screen offers to automatically “move” or “copy” all of our existing Dropbox files to the new locker.
Whilst I am still testing I have elected to copy all of my files as this initial setup wizard offers no option to just set up an empty locker and add files at a later stage. This can be configured later on in the application and the configuration of multiple lockers in multiple locations on the PC or cloud storage is also supported (you can have as many lockers as you require).
Once the locker is created the main application screen will open up with the newly created locker opened and accessible, at this stage files can easily be ‘dragged and dropped’ into the locker via this interface like they can with any other file explorer window. It should be noted, however, that copying files out of the locker is slightly more complicated in that they must first be decrypted and then (in NordLocker’s own terms) ‘exported’.
Heading back to the Dropbox drive for a minute we can see the files which NordLocker has created during this process, this starts with a “Dropbox.locker” folder containing the entire locker and within this the encrypted vault file itself.
Opening up an existing vault is also really easy within NordLocker, to do this simply navigate to “File”, “Open Locker” and then select the NordLocker file in the explorer like below:
Sharing Encrypted Files
In addition to securing personal files, NordLocker also allows the sharing of files from within a secure locker with other NordLocker users.
This works by first selecting the files to be shared and then right clicking on them and selecting to “prepare for sharing”. After this the software will begin creating an additional “export” locker and ask for the email addresses of all NordLocker users who have permissions to view these shared files (the people you share with must also be registered with NordLocker for access).
After this “export” vault is created and the permitted users selected the vault can then be shared with other users. If you are using Dropbox (as I am) NordLocker also offers integration into the Dropbox service and will create the sharing link for us automatically, great!
So far I have found everything works well with NordLocker and the software really does make securing both local and cloud storage quick and simple. It is also clear the team at NordLocker have done a lot of work to ensure this software is easy to use so this is definitely worth considering if ease of use is a significant factor in you search for encryption software!
Security and privacy are two areas of the up most importance when looking at any encryption tool, thankfully NordLocker take both of these areas very seriously!
Firstly, NordLocker require no personal details from users to begin using the software, only a valid email address is required meaning this essentially protects users against any kind of data breaches relating to personal details.
Security wise, NordLocker use the latest in encryption standards to help secure data, these include technologies such as Argon2, AES256, ECC (with XChaCha20, EdDSA and Poly1305) amongst other security features in use within the software.
NordLocker provide a useful knowledge base and help section via the NordLocker support portal. Alongside this support portal, NordLocker also provide customers with 24/7 email based support should any more complicated issues arise.
NordLocker currently make use of two plans, these are a free version with 3GB of free cloud storage and a premium version with 500GB of cloud storage included for just $3.99 / month!
More pricing information is available at the NordLocker website.
NordLocker Review Summary
File encryption and data security are both becoming ever more important as our lives become ever more digital, as such tools which help improve our privacy and security will also become more important. It is great to see that NordLocker have clearly identified this requirement for such a tool which not only allows personal files to be secured with strong encryption but also makes the process user friendly and easy for PC users of all abilities to use.
As of updating this review in April of 2021, it is great to see NordLocker continuing to develop this product, making it easier to use and crucially adding cloud storage directly into the encryption client itself (both for free and premium accounts). In fact, the inclusion could be the missing link for many as this no means NordLocker is not only a great encryption client in its own right but now easy to configure and use across multiple PCs!
One of the things I really like about NordLocker is how easily a cloud storage drive (such as Dropbox) can be secured and how easily it can be continued to be worked with in spite of such encryption. It is also great to see NordLocker taking user privacy seriously and requiring only an email address for users before they start using the software.
All in all a great effort here and a genially useful tool which allows PC users of any ability the security offered by super strong encryption to help protect their digital assets. Well done NordLocker!