Protect Sensitive Data with Self-Encrypting Folder in Windows 10 / 8 / 7

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Is there a way to protect my important data from prying eyes with minimal effort? The best way to protect your sensitive information is to encrypt it and we can use the Lock My Folders utility for that task.

Lock My Folders allows you to create a self-encrypting folder for protecting your private data, such as bank details,  payment information or passwords. All individual files reside in that folder will be encrypted automatically without any user interaction. This tutorial walks you through creating self-encrypting folder to secure your sensitive data using Lock My Folders.

Set Master Password

When you open the Lock My Folders app for the first time, you need to set up a master password that will be used to encrypt your sensitive data and prevent others from unlocking your encrypted folder.

Anyone with your master password can decrypt and read your sensitive files. Make sure you use a hard-to-guess but easy-to-remember password.

Create Self-Encrypting Folder

After launching the Lock My Folders program, click on Add button.

Enter the desired folder name, and click on Browse to select where you want to create the new secure folder. You can save it in your local hard drive or USB disk.

Open Windows Explorer and you can work with the newly-created secure folder just like with regular folder.  When you place a Word document into the secure folder, it will be encrypted automatically before it’s written to disk. The document can be opened with Microsoft Word application, which is unaware of the fact of encryption of the files they deal with. The secure folder works like a self-encrypting folder because Lock My Folders uses similar transparent encryption technology as EFS to secure your data.

You can create as many secure folders as you need, each of them used for different file types – documents, personal photos, videos, etc.

Locking or Unlocking

When you shut down or restart your computer, all your secure folders will be locked down and protected automatically. If you need to step away from your computer without locking it or logging off, it’s good practice to manually lock the secure folder to prevent unauthorized access to your sensitive files. This can be done by right-clicking on the secure folder in Windows Explorer and selecting “Lock My Folder”.

If you need to access or edit your sensitive files again, just right-click on the secure folder and select “Unlock My Folder” from the context menu. You’ll be required to enter your master password to decrypt your data.

View Encrypted Files

The encryption and decryption process is transparent, automatic and real-time, so you can work with the encrypted files just like regular files. When a secure folder was created on a USB drive, you can attach the USB drive to another PC and view the encrypted files.

If your secure folder was created on a local drive, just boot your computer with a Live CD or USB and copy the secure folder. You’ll find all sensitive files are encrypted and unreadable.

Transfer Secure Folder

In the event of a computer crash or system failure, you can boot with a Live CD and copy the secure folder, then transfer it to a new computer. Install the Lock My Folders app on your new PC and set the same master password so that it can decrypt your sensitive files correctly.

If your old computer is still working well, just remove the secure folder from the Lock My Folders app and restart the system. The next time you log into Windows you can directly copy the encrypted secure folder and transfer it to a new PC for importing.

Conclusion

Comparing with full-disk encryption solution, Lock My Folders lets you encrypt individual folders or files without affecting your PC’s performance. There are also many other encryption tools that use a virtual drive to store your sensitive files, but the container file usually takes up a bunch of gigabytes and it can easily be detected by an intruder. While the self-encrypted folder created by Lock My Folders is just a normal folder on your hard drive, and you can optionally hide it from Windows Explorer.

If you’re looking for a solution to restrict users from viewing, deleting, modifying or copying your important files without encrypting, try another software – Protect My Folders, which is developed by the same author.

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