George from Salisbury, MD asks:
My PC needs to go to the shop for repair. I hope there is something I can set on the PC so that my documents are protected. How can I accomplish that? Will you please give me step by step instructions? I also need the instructions to set it back to normal when it comes out of the shop please.
If you share your computer with multiple users, you might have faced the problem of data privacy. With only one hard disk which shared by all users, there may be situations when other users of your computer may get access to your confidential data, documents, files, photos and so on.
Some of the common examples are as follows:
1. There are three members in your family who share the same computer. Your son has an administrator account, and you worry that he may access your personal data when you are not present.
2. All of your family members use the same external hard drive for moving files between multiple computers at home or office.
3. You deleted some files a week ago, but your son is too smart. He installed data recovery software (e.g Recuva) and recovered all the deleted files in no time.
Or, as asked by George in the question, “What if you want to repair your computer at a computer shop and don’t want the shop technician to access your personal files or folders?”
If you don’t want to move all the data to a removable drive, all you need is a simple program which can protect unauthorized access to specific folders stored in your computer.
One solution in such situations is to use a folder locking and encryption utility. Folder Lock is just such a utility:
1. Go to this link and download Folder Lock 6.5, a utility for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows7, which can be used to protect a folder with your chosen password.
If you are using Internet Explorer, you may have to allow pop-up windows for the downloader to open properly.
2. When you click the link of the setup file, a downloader will open as shown below. Click Save File and the file will be saved on your desktop. Again, this is if you’re using Internet Explorer. Each browser handles downloads differently, so your setup files may be saved to a different location.
3. After the file download is finished, double click the desktop icon to start installing the program.
4. Follow the instructions of the wizard and the program will be installed in your computer (for all users).
5. Launch Folder Lock by clicking Windows Start Menu > All Programs > Folder Lock> Folder Lock 6.
6. After launching Folder Lock, you will see the following interface:
7. Open My Computer and create a new folder anywhere in your hard drive. It is recommended to ignore the C drive and use a non-Windows partition.
This folder is the “special folder” where you will move all the confidential documents, pictures, important files and where other users of the same computer would be restricted from accessing it.
8. Come back to the Folder Lock window and hit the Create New Locker button. You will see the following interface:
9. Choose a password which will be used to password protect the custom folder created in step 7. Choose a relatively long password and mix up different symbols or alphanumeric characters to make the password really strong and difficult to guess.
10. Next, click the browse button and choose a location for the locker which is going to be created. A Locker is nothing but an encrypted file which will be used to identify you as the owner of the protected folder. Save the locker file anywhere on a non-Windows partition e.g D:\my_locker.flk
11. Now type the password again and hit the OK button. All done, your private locker will now be created and you will see the following program window
12. Remember we created a new folder in step 7. Move all the important documents, photos and files to this folder. Remember to move the files using Cut, rather than Copy, which would defeat the entire purpose of locking the private folder.
13. Once all the files have been moved, come back to the Folder Lock interface and hit the Add Files and Folders button. Then add the private folder where you moved all the files in step 12.
Remember to select the transfer method as Move Data
14. When you are done adding the private folder, click the Encrypt Now button and it’s done. You will see a small prompt that all the files have been successfully encrypted, as shown below:
15. Now you will notice that the private folder has disappeared and a new FLk file has been created on the same drive. This FLK file is nothing but an encrypted file which can only be opened using Folder Lock.
16. Now you may copy this encrypted file on a removable hard drive or keep it anywhere on your hard disk.
Anyone trying to open or delete the file will have to enter the password, you assigned in step 9. Hence, any other user on your computer will be unable to open the encrypted folder and unable to delete it.
If anyone tries to uninstall the Folder Lock 6 application from Windows, he will have to enter your password. This ensures that the shared user can neither open, delete nor remove the program and will have to enter the password to access the folder.
Important Note: The shared user may format the entire drive and this will permanently delete all the data kept in the hard drive, which may include your encrypted folder. Hence, make sure that the shared user does not accidentally format your system; otherwise all data will be permanently lost.