Ah, the world of cozy, digital familiarity. You have your .doc files, your MP3s, your PDFs and your AVIs, all nice, neatly sorted and well-known. But what about those mystery files with the weird file extensions you've never seen before in your life? If you have a mysterious ENC file lingering on your hard drive, it's time to put on your deerstalker hat, grab your pipe, and solve this file format mystery.
What Is the ENC Format?
Here's an easy way to remember exactly what ENC files are: ENC files are ENC-rypted files. Encrypted files contain protected data typically meant only for authorized viewing. In particular, ENC files are commonly encoded in the Uuencoded format, though they may use just about any type of standard or specialized encoding for security purposes.
Despite the extra layer of security, you can view encrypted files – including those with the ENC extension – by un-encrypting them. This is usually done with file compression software, which compresses, encrypts, decompresses and un-encrypts various file types.
Open an ENC File
When it comes to file compression software for opening files in the ENC format, you have plenty of cross-platform options. Corel's WinZip 16 is an industry standard for Windows platforms and, fortunately for those who have only a few curious ENCs lying around, Corel offers a free trial of the program.
For Mac users looking to crack open few ENCs, StuffIt Deluxe 16 from SmithMicro also does the trick. Though StuffIt's digital download comes at a cost, it offers robust cloud services integration for the files it compresses and decompresses. This software is also available on Windows. Other options for opening ENC files include Sniffer Capture File from Network Associates Technology, Inc., Video File, CopySafe, Media Safe, BlackIce Evidence Log File, and the My Personal Programmer Encrypted Distributed Project, among others.
Some ENC Caveats
ENC files are encrypted for a reason – someone wanted to secure them. In most cases, even when you use compression software to extract and open ENC files, you need to provide a short encryption key for each file. Further, if an ENC file was encoded in a proprietary format, there's a good chance it can only be opened by the program used to encode it.
If you're still struggling to open an ENC, a universal file viewer such as File Magic may be your best bet. Though not guaranteed to open every type of file under the sun, these programs can open and view a wide breadth of file types, helping to solve many a digital mystery.