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Video - Protect Your Files with Free SafeHouseExplorer Encryption Application

This video by Peter Avritch, President of PC Dynamics, Inc. describes how to use their free encryption application SafeHouse Explorer.

Transcript including my comments:

Here's what you should be worried about; if someone breaks into your home, they have access to your file cabinet. In your file cabinet you have many documents containing your name, social security number, bank account numbers, and loads of other personal information which makes it a breeze to steal your identity.

You can shred much of this paperwork, but there are certain documents containing personal information that you just have to keep. The solution is to scan these documents, encrypt the scanned images, and place them on a portable drive that you can hide.

What you'll need is a small portable encryption program that you can keep on the portable drive so that you can be confident that you'll be able to decrypt and access those documents if you need them.

Microsoft has a portable file encryption application called BitLocker To Go, but it only comes with Windows 7 Enterprise editions. Most of us have, at best, Windows 7 Home Premium edition.

There is also an open-source file encryption application called TrueCrypt that can be run in portable mode, but it's a very complex program and you need administrator privileges in order to run it in portable mode.

SafeHouse Explorer is a file encryption application that is simple to use and is light weight so its executable can stored on a USB flash drive along with an encrypted volume, allowing you to access the encrypted files, without administrator privileges, using your password, on any PC.

SafeHouse Explorer is software for your Windows PC which is used to lock, hide, and protect your confidential files and folders from being accessed by anyone but you.

This is done using passwords and strong encryption combined with a completely familiar look and feel. The program closely resembles Windows explorer, except that you're required to enter your password before gaining access to any of the protected files.

You decide which folders and files to protect, then just drag and drop them into an open SafeHouse Explorer window, just like you do now with Windows Explorer. This works with any kind of file, including Microsoft Word documents, Excel Spreadsheets, Photos, Videos, and pretty much any other kind of document you may have. You can protect files located on hard drives, memory sticks, file servers, and anywhere else.

You start by creating a data vault to hold your files. You pick the size, location, and secret password. You can create as many of these vaults as you like, they're just large container files.

However, when you open them up in SafeHouse Explorer using your password, they become new temporary disk drives in Windows. You can then drag and drop your confidential files into SafeHouse Explorer or access the temporary disk drive letter from within your favorite Windows applications.

When you open SafeHouse Explorer, you'll notice it looks a lot like Windows Explorer, but there are a few extra toolbar buttons to help you create, open, and close special data vaults, which are more commonly known as volumes.

Start by clicking the New Volume button to create our first empty file vault. This step doesn't affect any of your existing files, all you're doing is creating an empty storage area. In the Create New Volume dialog box which appears, you need to tell SafeHouse Explorer where to create this volume file. You can accept the default location, or you can change it, you're even free to create volumes on USB memory sticks.

After entering your encrypted volume location, In the Create New Volume dialog box, click on the [Next] button to get to the screen where you enter the size of the encrypted volume you want to create, the maximum size is 2000 GB.

SafeHouse explorer has an option that lets you fill your volume with random data. This makes it even harder for intruders to figure out what's going on. But it also makes the volume hard to compress. So if you plan to email the volume to a friend as a compressed file attachment, you should uncheck the [] Prinitialize volume with random data checkbox.

After entering your encrypted volume size, In the Create New Volume dialog box, click on the [Next] button to get to the screen where you choose a password. SafeHouse explorer has a Password Strength meter feature that goes from red to green as the password you enter gets better and stronger.

Click on the [Next] button to get to the screen where you actually create the encrypted volume. On this screen, click on the [Create Volume] button. The progress bar tells you when the Volume has been created. Then click on the [Finish] button.

In the SafeHouse Explorer window you'll see the letter of your new encrypted drive. If you look in Windows Explorer, you'll see that the new drive shows up there as well. This virtual drive letter is what makes SafeHouse Explorer seamlessly compatible with Windows applications such as Microsoft Office. This drive letter goes away when you close SafeHouse Explorer.

Next, drag and drop the folders and files that you want protected into the right pane of the SafeHouse Explorer window. If you right mouse button drag folders or files to the SafeHouse Explorer window, in the drop popup menu you'll see a Secure Move item. Choosing this item instructs SafeHouse Explorer to permanently destroy the original files once the move is complete. It does this by overwriting them with random data before telling Windows to delete them.

In the SafeHouse Explorer window left-pane, you can expand and contract folders just as in Windows Explorer. In the SafeHouse Explorer window right-pane, you can choose several different icon views.

After you've moved your files into SafeHouse Explorer, you want to close the encrypted volume. Do this by clicking the Close Volume button. The files are now safe and secure.

To access your files you can open SafeHouse Explorer and in the File menu, select Open Volume.... The Open SafeHouse Volume password dialog box will appear. Enter your password and click on the [Open] button. Your files are now available to open in any Windows application.

The SafeHouse Explorer application actually resides in a single 5MB executable which can be run from a flash drive without being installed on a PC. You can copy your SafeHouse encrypted volumes to a flash drive along with a copy of the SafeHouse Explorer executable and you'll be able to access your protected files from any computer even when you have administrator rights or permission to install new software.

Just insert the flash drive into a USB port, click on the USB's drive icon, then double-click on the SafeHouseExplorer.exe file to launch SafeHouse Explorer, and use it to open the encrypted volume the same as before. You'll be required to enter your password to access the files on the flash drive.

Steps to put SafeHouse Explorer on a flash drive:

1. Install SafeHouse Explorer normally onto your PC using the setup program that comes with the downloaded file.

2. Locate the SafeHouse Explorer executable, SafeHouseExplorer.exe, typically found here: C:\Program Files (x86)\SafeHouse Explorer\

4. Copy SafeHouseExplorer.exe file to your flash drive.

To run SafeHouse Explorer from your memory stick:

1. Insert your flash drive into a USB port and open up a window to show its files.

2. Double-click on the SafeHouseExplorer.exe file (red padlock icon).

When run this way, SafeHouse Explorer does not install any files onto the computer's main hard drive. You'll be asked to accept the license agreement the first time SafeHouse Explorer is run on a new PC.

Link to free SafeHouse Explorer download

you'll also find it at many other download sites, but as usual use only a reputable download site, and avoid sites that require you to also download a "download manager".

I know many corporate IT managers that haven't woken up to the frequency and dangers of data theft in the world today. Employees, even supervisors and managers are transporting data on flash drives and not bothering to use encryption or password protection because it's too complicated. SafeHouse Explorer is incredibly easy to use in portable mode. If I was an IT manager I would purchase a copy of SafeHouse Professional Edition with 448-bit advanced encryption for every employee. Click here for more information.


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