My Lockbox is a free program that can quickly hide and password protect a folder and all files/folders within it from being shown in the Windows files system, and will do so under Windows safe mode as well.
I’ve always resisted writing about programs such as this one because the “protection” they provide is in most cases easily breached and the hidden files and folders easily discovered simply by booting into safe mode, and anyway I already had a staple for freeware encryption programs which I reviewed a long time ago in the form of TrueCrypt (which mounts encrypted partitions/virtual partitions)..
The reason I tried “My Lockbox” in the first place is because it promised to maintain its protection even under safe mode. I tested this and it is true; however, it is still the case that your hidden files can fairly easily be detected by someone who (a) knows that they’re there and (b) is relatively technically proficient.
On the other hand I would think that the whole point of using an encryption program, at least on a desktop system, is to hide the knowledge that the hidden files are there rather than to hide them well necessarily. If this is what you are after then My Lockbox might be a very good fit for you, as it can hide and unhide your protected folder at a push of a button. Here are more notes on this program:
- Performance: hides and password protects a folder on your machine instantly. Can be invoked using a keyboard shortcut (CTRL-Shift-P by default). No need to create hard disk partitions and /or allocate space for virtual volumes.
- Safe mode: booting into safe mode does not reveal your hidden folder, which remains hidden just as when booting under the normal Windows environment. Note: you have to check “protect in safe mode” in the settings.
- The background process: shutting down the My Lockbox process does not reveal your folder. Note that the program is added to your start folder, probably to support the hotkey (mentioned above). However you can remove it from the start folder using Starter. I advise this as I do not see why this process should be potentially calling attention to itself until I manually start it myself. (Note: the process takes up a mere 3.5 megs in memory).
- Folder sizes: the size of your hidden files does not appear in the parent folder. For example if your hidden files are in “C:downloadsMy LockBox”, with the folder “downloads” containing files that total 100 megs in size and “My Lockbox” containing another 50 megs; when the “My LockBox” folder is hidden Windows will show “downloads” to contain 100 megs only, discounting the size of the hidden files within it.
- Tray icon: once your folder is unlocked, a little “My Lockbox” icon in the tray menu gives quick access to the program. If you do not want this icon to be showing (and advertising itself) you can hide it.
- Start menu shortcuts: creates start menu shortcuts by default. Remove them manually if you do not want them there.
- Two ways that your files can be revealed: I was able to view and copy the files by booting into DOS using a recovery disk. Moreover, there are some utilities which can reveal hidden files and folders and will instantly see your hidden folder and files. In both cases, however, the potential snoop has to (a) know there’s something there to look for, and (b) have special tools at their disposal (a boot disk or special software).
- No USB protection: this program is not geared towards hiding files on a USB drive. Try TrueCrypt instead.
Overall: insofar as it is a simple 1-click process, My Lockbox is a very easy program to use and does not require the kind of setting up needed for more powerful virtual-partition type programs. If you don’t expect a ninja-force of black-clad techies crashing through your house in order to get to your PC and reveal your hidden files, “My Lockbox” just might be a good solution for hiding files you don’t want other people to know about.
Version Tested: 1.2 (build 126.96.36.199.1)
Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista. Supports 64-bit PCs.
Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 1.27 megs).