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Q: encryption ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: encryption
Category: Computers > Security
Asked by: cheaptrinkets-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 07 Nov 2002 05:29 PST
Expires: 07 Dec 2002 05:29 PST
Question ID: 101086
Is there a program I can use to encrypt files or directories on my
computer? There are so many shareware out there it is hard to know
what is good and not. Ideally something that is well reviewed (include
links to reviews).  I would love something that will delete the files
or password after a user defined amount of putting in the incorrect
password.  In other words render the information impossible to access.

Also please write about why you think a particular program is
worthwhile. Please make this as thorough as possible. I have been
using computers for quite a long while so you don't have to worry
about being technical.
Subject: Re: encryption
Answered By: kyrie26-ga on 07 Nov 2002 15:41 PST
Hello cheaptrinkets-ga,

Thank you for your question! I'm glad you asked about encrypting
files/folders because I have been using Encrypted Magic Folders for
many years now and I am more than happy with it.

You can find it on the PC Magic Software site :

Or from the ZDNet Downloads site :

These reviewers seem to agree with me that you can't go wrong with
this software :


TUCOWS File Encryption Encrypted Magic Folders 

" Encrypted Magic Folders is a file-encryption program that selects
the folders you want encrypted.
EMF not only makes folders and files completely invisible to others,
but it also decrypts and encrypts the files automatically and
transparently - as you use them.

You won't even know you are using encrypted files!

Protect client information, your finances, taxes, business and
personal documents. Let your children or co-workers use your computer
without worrying if they'll delete, modify or view important files.

The only dilemna this program has is its Interface, but it's an
excellent program to have around to keep your files private. You won't
have to worry about flaws in the program. It has earned its cow
rating. "


Encrypted Magic Folders Software Review, NetAction's Guide to

[begin excerpt]

Encrypted Magic Folders
By PC Magic

- Encrypts and hides folders. 
- Uses a proprietary encryption system. 
- User-friendly interface; user logs in to enable folder access and
show folders and logs out to disable folder access and hide folders.
- Provides up to 5 separate user accounts, so each user has a set of
folders only he or she can access.
- Automatically generates an emergency password that can be used to
recover encrypted data if your designated password is lost or the
password data is corrupted.
- Useful for maintaining private files on your own computer but cannot
be used to send or receive and decode encrypted files.

- I found EMF straightforward and intuitive. Both program installation
and daily use were easy. One drawback is that clicking the taskbar
icon hides all your protected folders by default, so I frequently hid
my folders by accident. You can disable that feature. Another drawback
is that the program uses proprietary algorithms that have not been
thoroughly cryptanalyzed and may not be strong enough to stave off
serious cracker attacks.


- Before installing, EMF briefly described what the program does:
protected folders and the files inside cannot be read, run, deleted,
copied, or even seen.

- EMF then prompted me for an administrative password. (Once the
administrative account is set up, it is the only account that can
uninstall the program and/or create new accounts.) First, EMF asked me
to set up a hotkey, or a keyboard shortcut that switches between
visible and hidden folders. Many computer users avoid keyboard
shortcuts, but if you find yourself doing a task several times a day,
striking a few keys may be more convenient than clicking through
several menus. The default hotkey is CTRL-ALT-A, but you can change

- After setting up the hotkey, EMF gave me an emergency recovery
password, which is a long series of numbers formatted like a credit
card number. You can use the emergency password if you lose your
designated password or the password data is corrupted. The emergency
password enables you to access your protected files and/or uninstall
the program.

How It Works:

- EMF's basic features were very easy to use. You see a list of your
unprotected folders in a tree hierarchy in one pane, and your list of
protected folders in another. You drag folders from the tree hierarchy
pane to the protected folders pane to add them to the "protected"
list, and drag them out of the protected folders pane to remove them
from the list. When you're done choosing folders to protect, you can
either "Exit with Magic Folders Visible" or "Exit with Magic Folders

- If you exit with Magic Folders Visible, you are still logged in to
EMF. You can still see your protected folders and the files in them.
If you want to access a file in a protected folder, EMF will
automatically decrypt the file. If you save a file to a protected
folder, EMF will automatically encrypt it. You can treat your
protected folders as if they weren't encrypted. You can easily make
the protected folder invisible by clicking a button that EMF puts on
your taskbar, but I found that irritating as I often hit the taskbar
button by accident. You can disable the taskbar button and use other
means, like the EMF menu or a hotkey.

- If you exit with Magic Folders Invisible, all protected folders are
invisible and their contents remain encrypted.

- I ran some quick checks to see if mildly computer-savvy users could
bypass EMF's folder-hiding system. Encrypted files were still
invisible after I told Windows to show hidden files. I restarted the
computer to make sure EMF was no longer running even in the
background, but the folders remained invisible until I opened the EMF
program and logged in. EMF had passed the test: I couldn't find the
folders until I had logged into EMF.

- Also, the EMF interface deviates from the normal Windows user
interface standards. If you're used to the Windows interface, it's a
little confusing. For example, clicking a taskbar item usually brings
up a window that was minimized or obscured by other windows. In
contrast, clicking the EMF icon in the taskbar hides folders. In the
typical Windows interface, this function would require you to
double-click a system tray icon or select the item from a menu. In
addition to confusion, the atypical interface can lead to frustration
because taskbar items take up a good portion of screen real estate and
are easy to click by accident. I was very glad EMF included hotkeys
for making folders visible, because otherwise I would have had to
launch the program several times a day to undo folders hidden by
accidental keystrokes. Another difference is that EMF doesn't make an
entry into your Add/Remove Programs list. In order to uninstall the
program, you must log in to EMF with the administrative password and
select Uninstall from the Configure menu. In this one case, I applaud
the oddity because it ensures that only you may uninstall the program.

[end excerpt]


A1 Yippee - Windows - Utilities - Encryption and Decryption -
Encrypted Magic Folders

"Our Review:
This program is a must have if you are concerned about your computer
security on a laptop or in the office environment. Encrypted Magic
Folders comes with excellent documentation and a thorough explanation
of what the program is doing to your data. The setup program is
excellent and, from then on, the program runs pretty much
transparently, encrypting and decrypting your files when you need
access to them. The interface is simple and intuitive, although
because of the technical nature of the software we recommend only
experienced computer users try this software. This is a must have
program for those targeted, and certainly the best in its class."


One major benefit for you is that since you can make your files or
folders invisible, someone snooping on your PC will not even know what
to look for. You can also hide Encrypted Magic Folders by removing all
application shortcuts to it, and naming its application folder to
something that is not as obvious. Or, you can assign a hotkey to it
(Ctrl-Alt-G for instance).

I've found this software effective, reliable, secure, and fail-safe.
Even through the worst crash scenarios, my data has never become
corrupted. In any case, there is a "key disk" you can create to
recover your data if you should need it.

The only downside may be its proprietary encryption, which is not
industrial-strength, but then again, the whole purpose is to hide your
data, and if someone doesn't know it's there, that's the best kind of

I haven't had any problems with this software, and very highly
recommend it.

Hope that answers your question. Feel free to ask for a Request For
Clarification if you need further information, and I would be more
than happy to conduct further research for you. Thank you for using
Google Answers!



Request for Answer Clarification by cheaptrinkets-ga on 07 Nov 2002 17:58 PST
Thanks but I would like something that will delete the files and
render them uneless if a wrong password is entered too many times, is
that available?

Clarification of Answer by kyrie26-ga on 07 Nov 2002 20:46 PST
Hi cheaptrinkets-ga,

I did some more research to look for a security application that will
do a "self-destruct" of the files it is hiding, if a hacker were to
try guessing the password (beyond X number of wrong guesses).

This seems to be a very difficult feature to find, because most
software designers will assume that a user wants to keep the files
they are protecting! The fact that this "feature" is not available, in
my opinion, also means that there are better ways of keeping your data
protected. Please note that Encrypted Magic Folders also enables file
name scrambling (in addition to encryption of the file data itself).
So, in the rare event that you have an intruder who knows what to look
for, they would still have a hard time with the scrambled file names.

In my opinion, as an EMF user myself, I find that it is the most
effective solution to PC security because an "intruder" would have to
go through the following obstacles :

1. be aware that there are secret files/folders being hidden
2. be aware that EMF is being used
3. be able to successfully obtain or guess the password for EMF, OR
4. be aware of where to look for the hidden files/folders (needs
expertise including reconfiguring hardware)
5. use sophisticated encryption-breaking techniques (extremely

As such, I would rest assured knowing that the only real threat is if
someone can get past item no.5, and that is extremely difficult.

Google Search Terms (unsuccessful) :

hide encrypt files folders wrong password delete OR erase

hide encrypt files folders wrong password self destruct OR destroy

Other unsuccessful searches :, the Internet resource for Windows 2000 software

I hope this helps. Let me know if you still need further clarification
and I would be glad to help. I hope you give EMF a shot, it's a nice
little program. Thanks and have a great day (night?).



Request for Answer Clarification by cheaptrinkets-ga on 08 Nov 2002 05:26 PST
I tried it but when installing it I was informed that since I am
running home edition of windows xp that the encryption side of this
software isn't available until april 2003.

Clarification of Answer by kyrie26-ga on 08 Nov 2002 11:51 PST
Hi again cheaptrinkets-ga,

I have located the following two Windows XP security programs for you


TUCOWS File Encryption Privacy Master

Privacy Master 3.9  
Date: November 1st, 2002  License: Shareware  
Size: 1.4MB Rating:   
Cost: $39.95 Evaluation: 30 day  
" Information: 
This program creates a safe haven within your computer where
everything you choose is encrypted and hidden from prying eyes. It has
128-bit encryption combined with a unique session-based program style
provide the tools you need to secure your privacy online and off.
Because the program secures files where you normally keep them, there
is no need to hassle with copying or reorganizing files. "
Download available for Windows XP

Tucows rating : 5 stars

I have downloaded and installed this program. It is packed with
features and you can determine the level of "invisibility" of the
program. Designating protected files or folders is as simple as
dragging and dropping them into its window. This is a very impressive
program and you will very happy with what it can do.

You will also be interested in its "anti-hacker" features, including
the deletion of protected files as you requested earlier. Have a look
at an excerpt from the Help file :

[begin excerpt]

Setting Anti-Hacker Actions

You may choose to:

- Set the speaker volume to full, then play one of your choice of 5
Alarm Tones - Once activated, the alarm will sound continuously until
the correct password is entered!!
- Lock out all keyboard and mouse controls so that the computer cannot
be accessed for a length of time you specify - The default setting is
to lockout all keyboard and mouse control for 30 seconds. This time
value can be changed to a higher or lower value, and the unit of time
option expressed in seconds, minutes or hours can be changed by
clicking on the button labeled "Seconds". Each click cycles the value
from seconds to minutes to hours to seconds again.
- Permanently erase any of my secured folders and files that have the
'HOT' security attribute selected.
- Permanently erase all of my secured Internet Addresses (favorites),
History List entries and Cookies from my web browser.

[end excerpt]


ZDNet Downloads - Download Folder Lock 4.2 here

From the developer: "Folder Lock is a fast file locking plus hiding
software that can password protect your personal files and folders in
a second even if GBs of data is to be locked. It is very useful to
keep your sensitive files away from others. It makes your files
unaccessible and undeletable. It alows you to drag-and-drop any file
or folder in its Locker folder for one click locking convenience. It
is fast, very easy to use and very secure with its 3 layer locking
protection. It does not load any file at startup like other encrypting
tools making it, one of its kind.
"Folder Lock is unique because it takes little time to lock your files
unlike other file security programs and you're not required to run any
executable at startup saving you a lot of memory. Files and folders
locked with Folder Lock are unaccessible in windows explorer as well
as DOS mode. Even booting your computer to another operating system
doesn't show up your files. In addition to locking your files, it also
hides it, making your files unrenamable, unreadable, undeletable and
virus protected. Version 4.2 includes new features like skin
customization, master key, drag-and-drop one click locking and 3 layer
locking protection."

Download available for Windows XP


Google Search Terms :

hide encrypt files folders xp

Other search listings :

TUCOWS File Encryption

ZDNet Australia Downloads  PC,2000036747,21321403-11-0,00.htm

I hope this is the program you are looking for. Let me know if you
still need help.

Best regards,


Request for Answer Clarification by cheaptrinkets-ga on 10 Nov 2002 11:54 PST
Question: I have private information. Financial data. Someone hacks
into my computer (windows xp is not the most secure os) and puts a
trojan horse on my system.  (they don't even have to hack to do this. 
a invisible pic on my system from a web site.  via email.  many ways
of doing this)  this trojan horse allows them to capture my keystrokes
and even some screen shots (they can see my passwords) and this trojan
horse allows them to access my harddrive.   bye bye to the software
you listed.

Or my computer is stolen.  Take the hard drive out. Copy it. start
hacking the copy over and over until they get the data.  what makes
encryption effective is the method not just how many bits it is.

i already have password to book into windows so the info is safe from
someone who doesn't know what they are doing.  now i want it safe from
script kiddies or someone who does.

why would someone do this? who knows. why do people volunteer to work
on aol chat rooms for 60 hours a week without pay? why did someone
steal my grandmother dentures? the fact is people do this type of
thing and i want to be protected.

if this isn't something you have expertise in, find someone who does
or don't answer the question. i can go to,, myself.

Clarification of Answer by kyrie26-ga on 10 Nov 2002 12:42 PST

I can appreciate your concerns over the security of data on your PC. I
am a web developer and am not too far off when it comes to the issue
of computing security. I'll admit that I made the mistake of not
asking you earlier what operating system you were on, but I thought I
had found you the perfect solution for your stated requirements
(including Win XP compatibility) with the Privacy Master software. As
per your requirements this software has the "self-destruct" feature
for your protected files.

I understand your concerns. What you need to realize is that NOTHING
can stop a determined and skilled hacker, and neither I or my fellow
researchers will be able to guarantee a 100% secure PC for you. What I
can guarantee, though, is to find you the best solution to your stated
problem, and if I had misunderstood your question, then you have my
committment to follow through until you find a solution.

From my technology experience, a good antivirus that is frequently
updated will be able to take care of trojans, including keystroke
capture programs that secretly get onto your system. You are right,
"bye bye to the software" I listed, in that case. Once keyloggers
capture your password, you can be sure that a hacker will have access
to everything and anything you have protected. As such, there is NO
software I can recommend you that will protect you from this specific
threat. All I can recommend is a good antivirus, although this was not
part of your original question.

Or your computer is stolen. Again, a determined and skilled hacker (or
say, the Feds) will have no problem cracking your encryption. It is
just a matter of time and money. So for all practical reasons, it
doesn't matter what strength or type of encryption you have. Although,
in this case 128-bit encryption is a much bigger deterrent than, say,
56-bit. And if it's proprietary encryption, so much the better,
because it's not a common standard.

I'll admit I'm not an expert in PC security or encryption. But I know
enough to make you a recommendation that I would use myself, in full
confidence. And from experience and the research I had conducted, this
is my best recommendation. If you are unhappy with it, please feel
free to request a refund. Otherwise, if there is anything specific
that I can address, please let me know and I would still be more than
happy to help you out.

Best regards,


Clarification of Answer by kyrie26-ga on 10 Nov 2002 13:03 PST
Hi again,

I'd like to quote one of my fellow researcher's advice
(Aceresearcher-ga) :

"If you don't already have a good Firewall installed, that is a very
important (and these days, very necessary) way to prevent someone from
hacking into your computer or sending an e-mail that plants a
keystroke-logging program. In addition, if you don't already have an
Anti-Virus program installed, that is also a necessity these days for
security reasons.

Information on available firewall systems: 

Information on available anti-virus systems: "

Subject: Re: encryption
From: funkywizard-ga on 07 Nov 2002 05:39 PST
PGP doesn't meet all of your requirements, but it is the de facto
standard in personal encryption. It has been battle tested, and is
continuously undergoing updates to make it more useful and secure.

It is available free at
Subject: Re: encryption
From: houstonguy-ga on 07 Nov 2002 06:00 PST
You could also use encrypted magic folders...encrypt and hide the directory too.
Subject: Re: encryption
From: mathtalk-ga on 08 Nov 2002 19:45 PST
McAfee Virus Scan 6.0 Professional includes a "shredder" application,
for permanently deleting information from the computer.  I'm not sure
if there might be some way to programmatically tie this in with other
products such as the Encrypted Magic Folders.

-- mathtalk-ga
Subject: Re: encryption
From: garf12-ga on 13 Nov 2002 22:13 PST
Dude I just want to say you are a totaly wacko!  Just calm down, you
arent going to have the freaking attack of the "script kiddies."  Use
the encryption tools for all your private stuff and that is more than
enough.  If you are also on a broadband internet connection with a
router you have added security.  Most every router I know comes with a
basic firewall enabled by default.  All those little ports that the
script kiddies can get in through are all blocked.  So chill out.

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