Giveaway of the day for December 12, 2008 is Hide My Folders.
The developer does not list Vista as a supported OS for this software and unfortunately this software refuses to work on Vista no matter what I try.
When trying to run Setup.exe on my Vista machine I was prompted with an error telling me I was installing on an incompatible OS.
I tried to run as Administrator, same problem. So I Right Clicked -> Compatibility -> Run as Windows XP. It installed after that. Then to actually run the software, I had to Run as Administrator for the first time (all times after that it ran fine without Admin). When the software came up, the first thing I did was try to register the software. That went fine. At first it would not let me copy + paste registration information, but after a few tries it worked. After that, I tried using the actual software. But it ended up not working at all. I guess they weren’t joking around when they didn’t put Vista in list of Windows that this software supports.
While I was installing this software, the default directory was set to C:/Windows/HMF. I don’t know about other people, but there is no way I am letting some random software install into the windows directory. So I changed it to Program Files. Also, my Kaspersky prompted me about 5-7 times about “Suspicious Activity” from this software. So I am sorry, but I can’t really review something that isn’t working for me.
That being said, I have three free alternatives that one may consider using:
My Lockbox™ is a security software enabling you to password protect any folder on your computer.
The protected folder (lockbox) is hidden from any user and application of your system, including Administrator and System itself. It is impossible to access the lockbox not only from the local computer, but also from the net.
The program is extremely easy to use. You can set the lockbox location and the password during the setup procedure. After the setup is done, lockbox will be hidden and locked until you enter the valid password.
My Lockbox Control Panel allows you easily change basic lockbox parameters: lockbox location, protection status, password.
In addition, skinned user interface lets you choose from different skins to select the most comfortable look and feel of the software.
-My Lockbox Developer
What this program does is that it creates a folder called “My Lockbox”. Whatever you want to hide, place it in this folder. Once you are ready to hide your files/folders that you placed in “My Lockbox”, run the My Lockbox program (either via icon or press Ctrl + Shift + P). If you have a password set you will be prompted for a password. From the My Lockbox window, just hit “lock” to hide the “My Lockbox” folder and everything inside it. To make them reappear, just hit unlock.
Also, if you already have a folder that you want to hide and do not want to move all the files into “My Lockbox” folder, you can designate any folder to be hidden. What I mean is that you do not have to use just the “My Lockbox” folder. Just change the “My Lockbox folder location” to whatever folder you want to hide, and the procedure/result will be the same. For example: You have a folder named “Music” on your desktop. In the My Lockbox program window, change “My Lockbox folder location” to C:/Users/Lakjin/Desktop/Music. Lock/Unlocking will hide/unhide this folder. Unfortunately you cannot chose more then one folder at a time to lock.
The great thing about My Lockbox is that whichever folder it hides, it is totally hidden. There is no way anyone can see it without unlocking the folder first. This program can add another layer of security to files that you would like to keep secure. Just encrypt files with a program like AxCrypt, then place them in your My Lockbox folder and lock the folder. Now not only are your files encrypted, but they are also securely hidden.
Easy File Locker (thank you Giovanni)
Easy File Locker is an easy-to-use security software product that can protect your private files and folders. With its great protection, users will not be able to open, read, modify, delete, move, copy the locked files/folders, or even not be able to see it. The hidden files/folders will be totally invisible to all users and to any program. Easy File Locker will keep protecting the files/folders even under Windows Safe Mode. It is designed for protecting files/folders on your local computer. It doesn’t change the protected files and folders, it will not slow down the system speeds and it will never have the chance to destroy your data.
Easy File Locker is an amazing software. When the developer claims “users will not be able to open, read, modify, delete, move, copy the locked files/folders, or even not be able to see it”, they are not kidding. I created a test folder on my desktop to try out this software. First I turned off “Access” for the folder (unchecked it) – I could not open my folder, nor could I remove/delete it. Then I turned off “Write” (unchecked it) – I could not rename the folder nor could i add/delete the contents of the folder. Then I turned off “Delete” – I could not delete the folder. Then I turned off “Visibility (unchecked it) – I could not access the folder no matter what I tried. Best of all you can combine all of these or just do one (i.e. turn off only Delete, or turn off Delete and Write). You can also do the same for files. There is no limitation on how many files or folders you can load into Easy File Locker. There is password protection so you can prevent unauthorized access.
Free Hide Folder is a free computer security software to hide your private folders. It is very useful to keep your personal data away from others. Others will not know where your personal files exist and they will not be able to accidentally view them. You can hide folders simply with a few mouse clicks. Free Hide Folder is protected by a password that you can change or remove at any time.
-Free Hide Folder Developer
Free Hide Folder is very easy to use. Literally just add folders, hide/unhide them. Password protection is available and you can set the program to automatically hide folders after you exit the program. Also, you can hide as many folder as you like as opposed to My Lockbox where you could only hide one.
Unfortunately, it seems this program only ‘hides’ the folders and does not prevent access to them. I created a new folder called “SAD” on my desktop and used this utility to hide it. It was hidden from desktop. But I opened up a folder and typed in C:/Users/Lakjin/Desktop/SAD and it allowed me to enter the folder. So while this is good to hide from prying eyes, it is not very secure.
Windows Hide Folder Feature
Right click on a folder -> Properties -> Attributes -> Hidden (something to that effect). Although there is a way to show hidden files, this will help hide folders from people who do not know it is there.
PMnet Verdict: If you want to truly protect your folders/files do not rely on any ‘folder hide’ program. Although My Lockbox and Easy File Locker seem pretty secure (I could not access the hidden folder(s) in anyway), if your data is that important, I suggest you consider encrypting the data with either AxCrypt or TrueCrypt. You can also have multi-layer security – encrypt the data then hide it with My Lockbox/Easy File Locker. That being said I was really impressed with My Lockbox and Easy Filer Locker both. If you were able to hide more then one folder at a time, I would definitely suggest My Lockbox. But since it cannot, I suggest Easy File Locker as your program to hide/unhide files/folders.