Secure Your Folders

very good
key review info
application features
  • The protected folder (lockbox) is hidden from any user and application of your system, including Administrator and System itself.
  • (3 more, see all...)

Being constantly worried about others snooping into my files, the idea of finding protective software crossed my mind one day. Searching within privacy and security tags, a simple application caught my attention. Protecting a single computer folder with a password, My Lockbox is described to be an easy-to-use program, so I said to myself that I had to give it a try.

After installing the application, a system reboot is necessary for the new changes to take effect. A case-sensitive password accompanied by a hint needs to be defined during the setup procedure as that is the countersign which will allow you the unlocking of the protected folder. Context menu is not added for this program, but you can always modify the folder you want to hide by dragging and dropping it onto the software's main window, or by browsing for it. The folder's locked/unlocked state is also shown in here. What is left for you to do is to press the lock button and the directory and all its contents will vanish from your hard-drive. Indeed, it can't get any easier than this.

A simple keyboard combination will bring the application's control panel onto your desktop. The interface has a nice design and you have the possibility to choose 1 of the 5 skins from its Option tab. From this menu you can protect the Lockbox folder in Windows Safe Mode, a very useful feature in case somebody wants to log in with system administrator privileges. Accessed locally or remotely, your password protected folder will be invisible for the human eye and nobody except the countersign's owner will get inside it.

As it is a free program, the Updates tab can check regularly for improvements at the time interval you can set up manually. If the time interval hasn't reached the limit but you heard there was a new version available, you can always look for it by pressing the Update button.

In case the password you set initially doesn't appear suitable anymore, this can be changed, as well as the hint accompanying it. To accomplish this, entering the old password is required. After every operation you make, don't forget to hit the Save button to memorize all the changes you have chosen.

Basically, My Lockbox Control Panel allows you to change the lockbox parameters, such as location, the protection status and the password. About the last one, a small problem arises: if you forget the password you set and the hint doesn't give you any clue, this program can become your worst nightmare because there is no "traditional" way to get in the folder you have protected. Running MS DOS, Safe Mode or logging in as system administrator will bring you to no good. Command prompt will tell you there isn't any folder if you are trying to change directory to the one you have hidden and Windows Explorer will do the same. Even when you will uninstall the software, the folder will still remain hidden if you don't provide the right password. On re-installation, the same hint will appear and the password you have to type must be the one you have forgotten. Pretty inconvenient, if you can't remember it.

If you don't have any idea on how to get your files back in case you lost the password, I found a solution you could use. Because the program is not encrypting the folder but hides it, a good way of bypassing the protection is booting from a Linux distro. During our testing, we've used Ubuntu 7.10 with great success. Even if the folder was securely hidden under Windows, in this distribution it was perfectly visible.

The Assistance menu is not available, but in this case it is quite useless, as the application does not have a lot of features and it mainly does one thing: hides a specific folder within a couple of clicks. If you have any questions, the software's publisher can be contacted by writing an email to one of its addresses or by completing a Contact Us web form. In either way, if you forget the password you set up, it is not going to be able to provide it as there isn't any password recovery feature integrated in the program.

With all this being said, My Lockbox turns out to be some very handy software. Unless you want your files to be moved from one partition to another or to be securely encrypted, the program helps you hide files or directories from your volume under a single password protected folder name. Careful with the hint because you don't want to lose the password, as the developer does not provide any recovery method.

The Good

Easy-to-use application with a skin customized interface. It hides the chosen folder and if you are not an "authorized" user, you can't find out what it contains even if you access it remotely. Logging in as System Administrator or running the Safe mode will not bypass the Lockbox folder's protection. Although a context menu is not available, you can always Drag&Drop the destination folder (or just browse for it). The program's Control Panel pops-out with simple keystrokes which can be customized anytime to suit your needs.

The Bad

Only one folder can be hidden, pretty inconvenient unless you want to change all the hard drive tree structure. In the Lockbox folder location, the text-box area gives you the impression you can type in it. It doesn't refresh the folders structure immediately. A new attempt to get in the Lockbox folder will display a "." (it is a dot) folder full with the files and folders outside the hidden directory. And remember not to lose the password you set up. Password recovery is unavailable and there is no warning about this.

The Truth

Unless you want a program to encrypt your files and folders with a password-key, My Lockbox seems to be a very good alternative. It doesn't take long to learn how to use it and it can bring long-term benefits. Other than this, you are more than free to have a go with it as it is a freebie. You might want to keep the password you set safe, because once you've lost it, there is no feature provided by the program to retrieve it.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 4
features 3
ease of use 5
pricing / value 3

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good