Setting up the external text editor for AB Commander

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As you probably know, AB Commander comes with a built-in text editor that you can use to quickly edit text files. It’s easily accessible from within AB Commander: just select the text file you want to edit or view, and press the Ctrl+Q key combination. The text file will open in a separate window, offering the basic file editing capabilities:

In addition to the internal text editor, AB Commander also offers a way to set up an alternative text editor for use in cases when the capabilities of the built-in editor are not sufficient enough. By default, the external text editor is set up to run Windows Notepad. (Try it: you can open a text file with the external text editor by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Q). Notepad, however, does not offer much more than the built-in text editor. If you really want to have a powerful text editor at your fingertips, you may want to change the external text editor from Notepad to something more advanced.

There are many text editors available (a quick Google or Bing search should reveal many of them). One of the more popular ones is Notepad++, a free and open source tool that offers many advanced text editing features, including syntax highlighting, tabbed user interface, plug-in support, etc.

To set up Notepad++ as the external text editor in AB Commander, choose View – Options from the AB Commander menu, and select the Editor page:

Click on the Options button next to the External choice, and then enter the path to the Notepad++ executable into the box:

Keep in mind that on your computer Notepad++ could be installed into a different folder than shown. For example, if you have a 64-bit version of Windows, then Notepad++ would most probably be installed under the C:\Program Files (x86) folder. You can always determine the correct path by analyzing the properties of the shortcut to Notepad++ that you use (on the Desktop or on the Start Menu):

Another option you have is which editor (internal or external) you want to be the preferred one (that is, accessible via the Ctrl+Q keyboard shortcut), and which one alternative (accessible via the Ctrl+Shift+Q combination). You can choose that on the Editor page shown above.

Happy text editing!

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How to restrict Internet Explorer from downloading programs from the Internet

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It’s possible to set up Folder Guard to stop downloads of programs with any web browser, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and so on.

Suppose you don’t want users to download programs from the Internet, yet you would rather not to block the Internet access completely and allow the users to to browse the web sites, use email, etc.

For such a goal, you could set up Folder Guard to restrict Internet Explorer from downloading the programs from the Internet. Folder Guard lets you create the file access filters. You could create a filter that would apply to any executable file or a script, but skip other files. You would assign the Read-only attribute to such a filter, and that would stop any attempt to create a new executable file (and thus prevent downloading them!), while allow the use of the existing programs.

To do that, run Folder Guard and choose View – Filters command from the menu to switch to the Filters view. The filter we need may already be there, look for the name Stop common downloads. If it’s not in the list, choose the Filter – New command from the menu to start creating a new filter. Click on the […] button next to the Apply to files box to specify which files this filter should apply to. The names of the executable files have the extension .exe, so you need to specify the mask *.exe to make the filter apply to any such file. You don’t want the users to download the DLL files either, so add the mask *.dll to the list, too. In fact, add a few other masks to make the filter apply to the files commonly used to run scripts, as well (because you probably don’t want the users to run arbitrary scripts!). Here is the text of the Apply to files box that you can use as a starting point for the list:

*.bat;*.cmd;*.com;*.dll;*.download;*.exe;*.hta;*.msi;*.paf;*.rar;*.scr;*.vb*;*.ws;*.wsf;

Your may need to make some modifications to this list: for example, if your users are supposed to be able to modify the BAT scripts, remove the *.bat mask from the list.

Leave the rest of the properties of the new filter empty:

Press OK to close the properties window. If it’s a new filter you’ve just created, you will be prompted to enter a name for the filter. Give it a meaningful name such as Stop common downloads to remind yourself later on why you’ve created the filter:

After the filter has been created, move it to the top of the list (using the Move Up command on the Filter menu) and assign the Read-only attribute to it (by, for example, clicking on the Read-only button in the toolbar):

(You may have other filters in the list, you can leave them as they are: if they have no icons in front of them, they will have no effect).

A couple more things to do: check the Trusted Users list of Folder Guard and verify that the SYSTEM user is there. Also check the Trusted programs list, and make sure the following programs are listed:

C:/Windows/System32/wuauclt.exe
C:/Windows/servicing/TrustedInstaller.exe

The above entries ensure that Windows Update has an unrestricted access to all files and folders of your computer. Without them, the filter we’ve created would prevent Windows Update from installing the updates.

At this point Folder Guard is ready to start protecting your computer. Apply the changes (or resume the protection) and test it by trying to download a few programs from various web sites. (If you a looking for a few files to test, you are welcome to use the download page of our web site.)

If you try to download an executable file with Internet Explorer while the filter is in effect, the following error message is displayed:

Other web browsers could give similar messages, or they could just sit there forever expecting the download to start. The end result is, the users cannot download programs anymore while they still can use the existing programs!

What if at some point you do need to download or install a new program, or remove an exiting one? Well, just pause the protection of Folder Guard, perform the task, then resume the protection back (no Windows restart required).

One side effect of the protection we’ve just set up is that the filter will not only prevent downloading the programs, but it will also prevent installing or copying programs from/to the CD or removable drives. It may be a good thing, or not, depending on your specific requirements. If you want the users to be able to run programs from the removable drives while the Stop downloading filter is in effect, you need to create another filter that would specifically allow full access to the executable files located on the removable drives.

If you want to link to this article, you can use this HTML code: <a href=”http://www.winability.com/how-to-stop-downloading-from-internet/”>How to stop users from downloading programs from the Internet</a>

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Personal vs business license for USBCrypt

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
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We offer two kinds of licenses for the continued use of USBCrypt: personal and business.

The personal license is available for purchase at a discount, and it entitles you to use USBCrypt for the home, personal use only. For example, you can use USBCrypt under the personal license to encrypt drives that you use to store your personal files: documents, photos, videos, tax returns, financial records, and so on.

However, if you use USBCrypt to encrypt any files related to your business or employment, you must purchase the business license. For example, if in addition to your personal files you also use your encrypted drives to transport files between your office and home, you must purchase a business license.

The functionality of USBCrypt under the personal or business license is the same, except that when USBCrypt is registered with a business license, it gives you additional choices of the encryption algorithms:

Algorithm available with: USBCrypt personal licenseUSBCrypt business license
AES-128YesYes
AES-256YesYes
Twofish-128 Yes
Twofish-256 Yes
AES-Twofish-512 Yes
XTS modeYesYes
CBC mode Yes

AES-128 stands for Advanced Encryption Standard  with 128-bit key, and AES-256 selects the same AES algorithm but with the 256-bit key.

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Twofish-128 stands for Twofish  algorithm with a 128-bit encryption key, and Twofish-256 means Twofish encryption with a 256-bit key. Finally, the choice of AES-Twofish-512 gives you the cascade encryption  algorithm that is a combination of AES-256 and TF-256 with the effective key length of 512 bit.

The XTS encryption mode  is considered the best choice at the time of this writing. Business customers can also select the CBC mode  which is an older standard that has some deficiencies, but may be required for compliance with some requirements you might have.

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Use Folder Guard to restrict access to Control Panel

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You can use Folder Guard to not only protect access to files and folders, but also to the command of Windows Control Panel.

It may be not obvious, but the commands that appear in Windows Control Panel are handled by the special system files of the type "Control Panel extension" (their names have the extension .CPL) located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. For example, the DESK.CPL file is responsible for the Display command of Control Panel, TIMEDATE.CPL – for the Date and Time command, and so on. (Some of the .CPL files are responsible for more than one command of Control Panel).

This information gives us a method of restricting access to the commands of Control Panel with Folder Guard: we simply need to restrict access to the appropriate .CPL file with Folder Guard, that would make Windows unable to use that file, and it would effectively prevent access to the appropriate command of Control Panel.

Note, however, that not all Control Panel commands use the CPL files. This is especially true for the latest versions of Windows such as Windows 10. So the method described below will not work for such newer Control Panel commands.

Here is the list of the common .CPL files and the Control Panel commands each of the files is responsible for:

.CPL fileControl Panel command(s)
ACCESS.CPLAccessibility Options
APPWIZ.CPLAdd/Remove Programs
DESK.CPLDisplay
FIREWALL.CPLWindows firewall
HDWWIZ.CPLAdd/Remove Hardware
INETCPL.CPLInternet settings, user accounts on Windows 95,98,Me
INFRARED.CPLInfrared
INTL.CPLRegional settings
JOY.CPLGame Controllers
MAIN.CPLFonts, Keyboard, Mouse, PC Card (PCMCIA), Printers
MMSYS.CPLSounds
MODEM.CPLModems
NCPA.CLPNetwork connections
NETCPL.CPLNetwork settings
NUSRMGR.CPLUser manager on Windows XP
ODBCCP32.CPLODBC Data Source Administrator
PASSWORD.CPLPasswords
POWERCFG.CPLPower Management
SYSDM.CPLSystem
TELEPHON.CPLTelephony
THEMES.CPLDesktop Themes
TIMEDATE.CPLDate/Time

(You may have other CPL files, or not all of the files listed above, depending on your version of Windows and other software installed on your computer).

How to use this list? Very simple:

Find the command of Control Panel in the table that you want to restrict with Folder Guard.

Determine the name of the .CPL file that is responsible for that command.

Run Folder Guard, switch to the Folders view, right-click on the folder tree, and choose Add file to folder tree from the menu:

Navigate to the C:\Windows\System32 folder and add the desired .CPL file(s) to the main window of Folder Guard.

Now assign the No access attribute to the .CPL file you want to protect:

Finally, apply the changes, and observe the effect: the command that you have restricted may still be visible in Control Panel, but when you attempt to use it, nothing should happen, the command should not work.

Please feel free to download the fully functional evaluation version and give it a try. If you don’t like it, use Windows Control Panel to uninstall it: no strings attached.

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Compare MySecretFolder and Folder Guard

Password-protect and hide personal files and folders with Folder Guard for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
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  • MySecretFolder has a simple and straightforward user interface, which you may find much easier to use than that of Folder Guard. On the other hand, Folder Guard offers more protection options, giving you more flexibility in protecting your computer resources.
  • MySecretFolder can protect only one folder at any given time, while Folder Guard lets you protect any number of files and folders at the same time.
  • MySecretFolder simply hides the secret folder, while Folder Guard lets you fine-tune the access rights to the folder (for example, make it read-only or prevent all access to it, make the folder itself hidden or only its contents, etc.)
  • MySecretFolder protects the folder in the same way for all users of your computer, while Folder Guard lets you set up the protection so that any particular folder may be protected from some users and accessible to others.
  • There are many other important features offered by Folder Guard but not supported by MySecretFolder, such as user permissions, trusted modules, file filters, and more.

More information about Folder Guard

More information about MySecretFolder

Please feel free to download the fully functional evaluation version and give it a try. If you don’t like it, use Windows Control Panel to uninstall it, no strings attached.

Hide folders with Folder Guard

Folder Guard makes it easy to protect folders with passwords. However, what if you want to hide a folder completely, to make it invisible for other users of your computer?

It’s just as easy to hide a folder with Folder Guard, too. One way is to use the Wizard: first, switch to the Restricted view of the Folder Guard program, and click the Restrict another file or folder link:

That should start the Wizard, and when its Visibility restrictions page is displayed, select the Hidden option:

Another method of hiding a folder is with the Folders view of Folder Guard window: select the folder you want to hide in the folder tree and assign the Hidden attribute to it using the right-click menu:

Now apply the changes and resume the protection, if necessary, and try to locate the folder with Explorer or another program: the folder should not be visible in the regular file listings! When you pause the protection the folder should become instantly visible. (You may need to press the F5 key within the Windows Explorer window, to make it refresh the list of folders it shows).

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Note that you do NOT need run the main program of Folder Guard to pause or resume the protection: you have several other tools available:

  • You can pause or resume the protection at any time by running Folder Guard using its Desktop shortcut or Windows Start menu.
  • You may want to set up a hot key to give yourself quick access to the Pause/Resume Protection command by pressing a key combination of your choice.
  • You can also enable the option to display a Folder Guard icon on Windows taskbar next to the clock, and click on that icon to get access to the Resume/Pause Protection command:

And more! Please feel free to download the fully functional evaluation version and give it a try. If you don’t like it, use Windows Control Panel to uninstall it: no strings attached.

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Compare ActiveExit to WINEXIT

Buy ActiveExit:
Site license from $99.95

Free for personal use:
Download ActiveExit

Microsoft Windows Resource Kit includes the winexit utility, that can be set up as a screen saver that can automatically logoff the user after a set period of inactivity, similarly to what ActiveExit does. If you are contemplating using winexit instead of ActiveExit, consider the following:

  • winexit replaces the user's screensaver with its own, while ActiveExit does not require that: ActiveExit does not rely on the screen saver functionality in any way. With ActiveExit, users are free to choose their own screen savers without disabling the auto-logoff functionality.
  • For winexit to operate properly, you must configure the appropriate permissions to modify the machine-specific part of the registry, possibly compromising the security of the computer (see Microsoft Support Article 156677 for the details).
  • winexit does not always logoff the user properly, especially if the user has locked the screen before leaving. Instead of logging off, winexit may just create a blank screen, requiring a hard reboot of the workstation to return to the desktop. ActiveExit can log off the users even if their screens are locked or disconnected from the server.
  • winexit may not work for the restricted users. ActiveExit, on the other hand, can log off both the restricted users and administrators.
  • winexit does not have any built-in way of excluding certain user accounts (such as the administrators) from being logged off. ActiveExit allows you to specify which users or user groups should or should not be logged off after inactivity. ActiveExit supports both the local and Active Directory domain accounts and groups.
  • And more! Please refer to ActiveExit User's Guide for more information on what ActiveExit has to offer.

If you have not done so yet, feel free to download a no-strings-attached-no-obligation installation file of ActiveExit and see for yourself how ActiveExit can be of use to you:

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Lock folders and drives with passwords

Password-Protect Folders

If you want to protect folders with passwords without encrypting the files, then Folder Guard is the tool you need. The password protection is instantaneous, no matter how many files the folder contains or how large the files are. However, the password protection takes effect only on your computer, where Folder Guard is running: if you move the folder to another computer, it will not be protected, unless that computer has Folder Guard installed and configured, as well. Read more about Folder Guard...

Encrypt external USB drives

If you have an external drive that you want to protect with a password, then USBCrypt is the software you need. This software creates an encrypted area on the external drive that you can use to keep your sensitive files. You can use the encrypted drive with other computers, that don't have USBCrypt software installed. If you lose the encrypted drive, your files will be safely protected with the password you've chosen. Read more about USBCrypt...

How to password-protect a folder with Folder Guard

You can use Folder Guard software to protect folders with passwords.

To lock a folder with a password: run Folder Guard and drag and drop the folder you want to protect to its window, or click the Lock another folder with a password link:

Use Folder Guard to protect folders with passwords

Select the folder to protect, enter the desired password, adjust the password properties, as needed:

Properties for the folder password

You can specify that the password may be used only by the local users, or by the network users, or both. You can choose the password to unlock a full access to the folder, or give the user the read-only access. (You can create several different passwords for the same folder, giving different access types to the users.)

Now apply the changes and try to open the folder you have just protected. Navigate to the protected folder, and you should see an empty window with the Unlock button in the middle:

The Unlock button lets you unlock the password-protected folder

Click the Unlock button, and prompt for the password should appear:

To open a password protected folder you must enter your password first

If you have entered the correct password, the folder should become unprotected and you should be able to work with the files and subfolders it contains without restrictions, as usual. However, if you don't enter the correct password, the folder will remain protected.

(Note that in order to unlock the folder this way, you need to double-click on the folder in the right-hand panel of the Windows Explorer window. If you select the folder in the left-hand panel that shows the folder tree, the password prompt will not be shown and the Access denied message will be shown instead.)

Now, after you have unlocked the folder, try to close the Windows Explorer window, and you should see a prompt to lock the folder back:

You are prompted to lock the folder when closing the Windows Explorer window

Reply Yes, and the folder will be locked back with the password again, and will remain inaccessible until you enter the correct password again.

In addition to the basic password-protection described above, Folder Guard lets you customize the way it works to suit your specific requirements:

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  • You can direct Folder Guard to add the Lock and Unlock commands to the Windows shortcut menu. You can use them to lock and unlock the password-protected folders by right-clicking on them, instead of (or in addition to) double-clicking on the folders as described above.
  • If you have locked many folders with passwords, you can make them all accessible at once by running Folder Guard and pausing the protection (you will need to enter your Master password, or course!) When you are done working with the protected folders, run Folder Guard and choose to resume the protection, to lock all folders at once with one click.
  • Instead of locking files and folders with passwords, your can completely hide them!

And more! Please feel free to download the fully functional evaluation version and give it a try. If you don't like it, use Windows Control Panel to uninstall it: no strings attached.

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Useful Windows utilities and security software