Why hide folders and files or encrypt data?
We all store a tremendous amount of data on out computer nowadays and it is not only businesses and other organisations that need to protect their data it is also the individual.
We have everything from personal finance details to private emails and documents that can be very easily accessed. We don’t think about protecting this data as we think it is secure. A perfect example of how some people treat their data is the fact that I visited a customer who had a folder on his desktop called banking logins and this contained his login details for current and savings accounts.
When I told the gentleman this was very risky his response was that you needed a password to logon to his computer so it was ok. The amusing and scary thing was that his password was his name!!Now this may be an extreme case but it does highlight how secure some people think their data is.
Although password protecting your windows account is good practice it only offers a very basic amount of protection and windows passwords can easily be removed using the right tools.Luckily there are a number of tools out there available for free to help you hide folders or files or password protect your folders or even encrypt sensitive files using free encryption software.
How to hide folders and files
There is a very good free utility available that helps you hide, password protect and generally make your files more secure called easy file locker. This can be downloaded from
Download the relevant version and then install the program.
The first thing you need to do is launch the program. Once the program is launched you need to set a password for any protected folders. Go to the system menu item at the top of the program and select set password.
On the window that opens set a new password and confirm the password. Make sure you write the password down somewhere safe or ensure you have it committed to memory as there is no way to recover the password.
After clicking OK we now want to add files and folders. By clicking the + buttons on the toolbar we can add either files (first plus) or folders (second plus) to be protected.
On the new window you will get the option to browse for the folder you want to protect (Highlighted red)
Once you have selected the folder it will show in the Path section. You then have a number of options that allow you to protect to folder in various ways.
Accessible – Allows the folder to be accessed.
Writable – Can be modified.
Deletable – Can be deleted.
Visible- If unticked the folder will not be visible in windows explorer.
In the example below I have set my folder to be visible, writable and deletable but I have set it to be non accessible which means when I try to open the folder I am presented with the following screen which tells me I cannot access the folder
How to encrypt you personal data with free encryption software
TrueCrypt is an on the fly encryption program that is available for free and can be downloaded from the location below. On-the-fly encryption means that data is encrypted before been saved and then decrypted right after it is loaded. This requires no intervention from the user and is all done automatically by the program.
It is considered by many to be the best free encryption software available and even a good rival to some of the expensive encryption programs. True crypt allows you to encrypt your data with a password or passkey so that it is not accessible unless the correct password/key is used.
Some of the main features are listed below (taken from the true crypt website)
- Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk.
- Encrypts an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or hard drive.
- Encrypts a partition or drive where Windows is installed (pre-boot authentication).
- Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent.
- Parallelization and pipelining allow data to be read and written as fast as if the drive was not encrypted.
- Encryption can be hardware-accelerated on modern processors.
- Provides plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password:
- Hidden volume (steganography) and hidden operating system.
Initially I was going to do a tutorial on how to use True Crypt but there is a very thorough and in-depth tutorial available via their website. This tutorial can be found at
True crypt is a very powerful free encryption software program and can be complex to use so be sure to follow al the instructions in the tutorial. The documentation on the site is excellent and should be referred to if you are unsure of any of the features of the software.