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Locking Folders in Windows 7, ME, and XP

written by: Zack Jones•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/7/2011

Ever wished that you could discreetly hide some sensitive files or folders residing in your computer? Ever wanted to have the equivalent of a safe in your hard disk? Now you can do both of these by employing this particular program.

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    General Info on Folder Lock

    Fmain screen older Lock is a slick program developed by NewSoftwares, a company that specializes in security software. Although this program is one of the many written on this topic, it stands out in a way, with its user-friendly flashy interface and its simplicity of use. It runs on various version of MS Windows, including Windows 7, and relies on 256-bit AES encryption with one of the top algorithms in the security field. Though this program focuses on file and folder locking (making them invisibible to other users), it also provides on-the-fly encryption and has the option of file-shredding (secure deletion). An interesting feature of this program is that it can operate in stealth mode, i.e. not appear in the system as a running application, providing an extra layer of security. Just over 3MB in size, this program retails for $39.95.

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    Starting the Program

    Once you download the installation file from the developers' website, just double-click it and follow the instructions provided. Soon you'll have a shortcut somewhere on your desktop, which you need to double-click in order to start the program. If you are using the free version of the program (which allows you 15 uses of it), you'll be prompted with a nag screen which will can get rid off either by getting a licence for the software, or by waiting 5 seconds and then clicking on the Later button. After that, you will see the program's welcome screen , which is there as a short-cut to the program's main uses. As at this point you probably don't have a Folder Lock file (referred to as locker by the software), you'll need to create a new one by clicking on the corresponding button. While the program is active, you should be able to see its characteristic icon in your system tray .

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    Creating a Locker

    To create a new locker (encrypted file where your data can be securely stored or locked), you need to click on the tab titled New, near the top of the program's main window . Then, you will need to enter a password for the locker and confirm it afterwards. As you type, a circular bar beneath the password will form, taking various colors, depending on the password strength. A password with any color different to green is not recommended, as such a password can be compromised sooner or later. Once you have created a locker it opens automatically and the program allows you to use it to either lock or encrypt your digital belongings. Note that you need to have opened a locker before you can view the program's options (using the middle button at the bottom of the main window). Moreover, the locker is stored on your computer as a file with the extension .flk, whose size varies, depending on how much data you have stored in it. Its minimum size is 5MB.

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    Locking a File or a Folder

    You can easily lock a file/folder by clicking on the Lock tab near the top of the main window of the program. Afterwards, simply click on the Add Folder & Drivers button on the left and select from the directory tree that appears what you want to lock. The files or folders you select will then appear inside the locker. Following that, you need to click on the files you want to secure and then click on the Lock button below the Encrypt tab. After having done this, the file/folder you've selected should disappear from its location and in order to be able to view it again you'll need to select it from the focker and click on the Unlock button. Once you finish with all the file/folder locking, you just click on the close to protect button on the left in order secure the locker.

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    This is a free guide about Folder Lock, a wide-spread software developed by NewSoftwares. In this article, you will be taken through the various functions of the program step-by-step. Upon reading this article, you will have a solid understanding of this program, being able to make the most of it and keeping all your private data on your PC safe.
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    Encrypting a File or a Folder

    In this program, file/folder encryption is very similar to locking, a simple and effective technique that is done on-the-fly. This way you can scrabble your private files/folders so that they appear as gibberish to anyone else who doesn't have your password and a copy of this software.

    Encrypted files are very handy if you plan to put them online or e-mail them to someone. To encrypt files using Folder Lock, click on the Encrypt tab near the top of the main window of the program. Then, you need to click on the Add Files & Folders button on the left side and select what you want to lock from the directory tree that appears. Afterwards, be sure to check the drop down menu that's right below the Lock tab, to set what you want the program to do with the original file/folder. Leave a copy lets it be, move data erases it after it is encrypted, and shred after moving makes sure that the original is wiped out from the hard disk. Once you are done, click on the encrypt now button below and wait for a few seconds. Once you are done, you can secure the locker by clicking on the close to protect button on the left.

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    Security on the Move

    Unlike physical lockers, the ones Folder Lock creates are quite portable and can easily fit in your pocket, through a pen drive or a flash card. This software offers a few straight-forward portability alternatives that will enable you to safely transfer your sensitive data to other places, or to simply back them up (in case your computer crashes and you lose all the files in it). If you plan to take a locker on your pen drive, it's recommended that you keep a copy of it on your computer, just in case.

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    Auxiliary Functions

    Apart from the aforementioned functions, Folder Lock has a few other capabilities that make it an even more interesting program. For example, you can edit a locker whenever you want (as long as you've opened it first). This allows you to even change its size, although the program does that automatically anyway, whenever it sees it necessary. If you are afraid that someone maybe eavesdropping on your keyboard, you can use the program's virtual keyboard , a particularly useful feature when it comes to password entering. Moreover, you can employ the program's main function while browsing your files through Windows explorer, using the corresponding entry in the context menu (right-click on the file/folder you wish to lock or encrypt). Finally, if you want to configure the program more and access all its potential you can play with the various options it has. (To access them, click on the middle button at the bottom of the main window.)

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    Final Remarks

    As you probably have gathered, this software is quite robust when it comes to security. However, it is good to keep in mind that the locker you create is as safe as the password you choose. That's why it is good to learn more about passwords first, to ensure that this powerful programs keeps your data as safe as possible. Finally, if you ever get confused about one of the program's functions, you can always consult its quite elaborate help page , using the left button at the bottom of the program's main window.

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    References

    1. Folder Lock official website: http://www.newsoftwares.net/folderlock (last accessed: May 2011)

    2. Mark Muller, July 2009. "How to Password Protect Folders in Windows 7".

    Screenshot images: created by the author



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