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AB Commander v.21.10 released

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October 1, 2021.

A new version 21.10 of AB Commander is available now for download and purchase!

This update offers several improvements and corrections.

As usual, the trial version of AB Commander comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your AB Commander within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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How to keep desktop icons from moving by running Icon Shepherd from command line

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You probably already know how to use Icon Shepherd: when you install it on your computer, it adds its icon to the taskbar notification area, and you click on that icon with the mouse and use the commands on the menu to remember the positions of the icons on the desktop, and restore them when Windows messes them up.

That's how most people would use Icon Shepherd, but you might be wondering is there a way not to have IconShepherd running in the background all the time and only run it on demand, when you actually need to save the icon positions or restore them? Even though Icon Shepherd uses a minuscule amount of RAM and a very small number of CPU cycles to do its work, still wouldn't it be nice not to keep it running all the time?

If you've been thinking about it (and who wouldn't?), you may be pleased to know that starting with version 21.8 of Icon Shepherd it's possible to run it on demand, by providing appropriate command line arguments to direct it what to do. You could run such commands by entering them into the Windows command prompt, or into the Windows Run box (that you can open by pressing the Win+R keys). Or, you may want to create two shortcuts on your desktop, one to store the current positions of the desktop icons, and another one to restore them. This way, you would launch such shortcuts, when needed, without having to run Icon Shepherd in the background.

Specifically, let's create a shortcut to store the icons positions. Right-click on an empty spot of your desktop and choose New - Shortcut from the menu. When the Windows asks you about the location of the item, press Browse, navigate to folder where Icon Shepherd files are installed (which is usually C:\Program Files\IconShepherd) and select the executable file there, such as ISEXE32, ISEXE64, or ISEXEA64, depending on your edition of Windows.) Before you press Next, first verify that the path to the executable is enclosed in double quotes, and second, append a space and the command line argument /Store:"My Icons" to it:

Icon Shepherd shortcut to store desktop icons

Now press Next and enter a name for the shortcut, for example Store My Icons: (this name will be displayed on your desktop)

Icon Shepherd shortcut to store desktop icons

That takes care of the shortcut to store the icons. Now create another desktop shortcut, in the same way, but this time enter the command line argument as /Restore:"My Icons", and enter the name for the shortcut as Restore My Icons.

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Note that you can choose a different name in place of "My Icons", but it must be the same for the /Store and /Restore command line arguments.

Now you should have two shortcuts on your desktop, one named Store My Icons and the other one named Restore My Icons. Use the first shortcut whenever you need to store the current icon positions. Use the second one when you need to restore the icon positions at a later time.

Finally, since you no longer need Icon Shepherd to run in the background, open its Options screen (by clicking on its taskbar icon and choosing Options from the menu) and deselect the option Auto-start IconShepherd when Windows starts. This way, next time you log in to Windows, Icon Shepherd will not start automatically:

Changing the option to auto-start IconShepherd when Windows starts

Happy computing!

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Icon Shepherd v.21.8 released

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Icon Shepherd is compatible with Windows 10 Icon Shepherd is compatible with Windows 11



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August 25, 2021.

Good news: A new version 21.8 of Icon Shepherd software is available now!

This update offers several improvements, such as:

  • Added support for the computers with ARM64 processors;
  • Improved compatibility with Windows 11;
  • Added command line options to make it possible to save and restore icon layouts programmatically;
  • Implemented several other minor corrections and improvements.

As before, you can use Icon Shepherd on one computer at your home, free of charge. (For other uses, an appropriate license must be purchased.) If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your Icon Shepherd license within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge. For the earlier purchasers an upgrade discount is available.

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StartFinity v.21.7 for Windows 11 released

We are excited to announce the immediate availability of version 21.7 of StartFinity for Windows 11, 10, 8, and 8.1.

This update improves compatibility with Windows 11 and the latest revisions of Windows 10. It also adds support for the ARM64 processors, in addition to the x86 and x64 processor architectures.

To update your existing StartFinity installation, download StartFinity and run the setup file to install StartFinity on your computer. The download is free and fully functional for the first 30 days. You can remove StartFinity from your computer at any time by uninstalling it with Windows Control Panel, like most other Windows programs.

To continue using StartFinity after the initial 30 days, purchase an appropriate license and enter your license key into StartFinity, using its right-click menu or the About StartFinity screen.

Happy computing!

AB Commander updated to v.21.6

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June 27, 2021.

A new version 21.6 of AB Commander is available now for download and purchase!

This is a minor update that corrects an error introduced in the previous version that stopped AB Commander from opening some virtual folders.

As usual, the trial version of AB Commander comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your AB Commander within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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How to restrict access to Task Manager with Folder Guard

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Windows Task Manager is a handy tool that you can use to see the running processes, monitor the system performance, and check the status of the system services, among many other things. On the flip side, with great power comes great responsibility. What if the other user you share share the computer with is not as responsible as needed to maintain the healthy run of your fine tuned machine? For example, Task Manager lets one disable programs on the StartUp list, but what if someone disables a program that you require to be run at all times? You can educate the users, of course, but wouldn't it be nice to prevent the users from running Task Manager altogether and thus prevent them from using this tool to mess up the system?

Folder Guard to the rescue! You can use Folder Guard to set up a restriction that would prevent users from running its executable file. You, the administrator, would still be able to run Task Manager when needed, after entering your password to pause the protection performed by Folder Guard. Here is how to do it:

1. Run Folder Guard as usual to change its protection settings, select the Restricted view of its window, and press the Restrict a file or a folder link:

Folder Guard list of the restricted files and folders

2. When the wizard starts, press Browse for file and select the following file:

C:\Windows\System32\Taskmgr.exe

Select Taskmgr.exe as the file to restrict access to

Press Next and on the Visibility Restrictions page leave the visibility default, which means that Folder Guard will not restrict the visibility of this file. Why? Because for our purposes we don't care if this file is visible or not, what we want is restrict access to this file, not hide it from the view:

Select default visibility for Taskmgr.exe

The next page is where we are actually setting up the restriction that will prevent users from accessing the Task Manager executable file. Select the No Access option:

Restrict access to Taskmgr.exe

Press OK to close the wizard, and then press the Protect or Apply buttons on the toolbar to make the changes we've made to take effect:

Apply changes to the restrictions to Taskmgr.exe

Now you can exit Folder Guard application (confirm that you want the protection to remain in effect after exiting the application).

The last but not least: restart Windows, by pressing the Start button and choosing Power - Restart from the menu. This restart is necessary because Windows might be already using the Task Manager files, before you've set up the restriction. After the restart, Windows will be forced to reload the files, and our restriction would prevent it from doing that.

After Windows has been restarted, if someone attempts to open Task Manager, they will be presented with a message like this instead:

Access denied to Windows Task Manager

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That should stop other users from using Task Manager, but what if you, the administrator, need to use it at some point? You can just pause the protection, and then resume the protection after you are done using Task Manager.

Happy computing!

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Folder Guard updated to v.21.4

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Folder Guard is compatible with Windows 10 Folder Guard is compatible with Windows 11




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April 17, 2021.

A new version 21.4 of Folder Guard software is available now for download and purchase!

This update offers several improvements and corrections.

As usual, the trial version of Folder Guard comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your Folder Guard license within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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Encryptability updated to v.21.3

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Encryptability is compatible with Windows 10 Encryptability is compatible with Windows 11




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March 21, 2021.

A new version 21.3 of Encryptability software is available now for download and purchase!

This update adds support for Windows 10 ARM64 edition.

Note: This software is not compatible with Windows Vista 64-bit, due to the Microsoft software support policy.

As usual, the trial version of Encryptability comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your Encryptability within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

USBCrypt updated to v.21.3

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March 21, 2021.

A new version 21.3 of USBCrypt software is available now for download and purchase!

This update adds support for Windows 10 ARM64 edition.

Note: This software is not compatible with Windows Vista 64-bit, due to the Microsoft software support policy.

As usual, the trial version of USBCrypt comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your USBCrypt within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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Take ownership of your files after access denied due to NTFS permissions

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If you check the properties of the main storage device of your Windows computer, chances are you will see that it uses the NTFS file system. This is a very powerful and flexible system that Microsoft designed to keep your files organized between folders, keep track of which user can open which files, prevent malicious programs from messing up the system files and so on.

When you are coping your files to an external hard drive formatted with the NTFS file system, you may not realize it but you are not only copying the contents of the files, you are also copying their attributes, including the security attributes. Depending on how this drive was formatted, the security attributes could be such that only you, the owner of these files, are allowed to open them, but other users should be restricted from doing that. Usually it all works well, until it does not. For example, if you've purchased a new laptop and attached the external drive to it hoping to get your files as you did many times in the past, but suddenly you are presented with a message saying "access denied":

Access denied due to NTFS permissions

Before we continue, keep in mind that there could be several other reasons for the "access denied" message. For example, if you are accessing a network folder, shared from another computer, the access could be denied because the folder was shared in such a way as not to allow access to your user account. Or, the folder could be restricted by using an access control program such as our Folder Guard. If none of such conditions apply, then most probably the culprit is the NTFS permissions.

Also, a word of caution: changing the owner and security properties of files and folders is a powerful technique that, if used improperly, could lock you out of your files. Don't change the security settings of the system files and folders because you may lock yourself out of Windows itself and prevent your computer from starting properly. If you don't quite understand what's going on with the security of your files, ask someone more knowlegable for help, don't change something you don't understand because that can make things worse! Follow the instructions below at your own risk.

If you see the access denied message, the first thing to check is the security settings of the folder you are trying to open. In our example, it's the root folder of the drive F:. In File Explorer, open the This PC folder, right-click on the F: drive, choose Properties from the menu, and finally select the Security tab. Chances are you will see a screen similar to the following:

Security settings restricted due to NTFS permissions

Let's follow the suggestion displayed and press the Advanced button:

Advanced security settings of an NTFS folder

As you can see, Windows has restricted itself even from displaying the current owner of the folder! Fortunately, this is easy to fix. If you are the administrator of the computer, you can take ownership of the folder. Click on the Change text on the second line:

Changing the owner of an NTFS folder

You can type your user name directly in the box or, if you are not sure, press Advanced and then the Find now button to display the list of users and groups, and select your user name in the list (which is User in our example, but in your case it will be probably something resembling your real name, like Joe Doe:)

Selecting the owner of an NTFS folder in the list or users and groups

Press OK once or twice to return to the Advanced Security Settings screen and you should now see the user name you've just selected on the Owner line:

Changing the owner of an NTFS folder

At this point you have selected your user account as the owner, but the change is not effective yet. To make it take effect, check the box that reads Replace owner on subcontainers and objects so that the new owner would be set not only on the root folder, but also on all files and folders under that root, and press Apply. You may see a prompt similar to the following asking you to confirm:

Replace directory permissions of an NTFS folder

Press Yes and after a while you may see the following message:

Windows prompts to reopen properties of an NTFS folder

What it means is Windows is asking you to close the current screen displaying the properties of the folder and open it again, to make it display the changes. Let's do that, by closing the Advanced Security Settings and Properties screens, and then going back to the This PC folder, right-clicking on the drive F: icon, choosing Properties form the menu and selecting Security. You should see a more informative screen now:

Security properties an NTFS folder after taking ownership

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You should be able to see your user name as the owner and also the list of permissions that your user account has over the root folder, with the check marks in the Allow column and none in the Deny column. To adjust these permissions, press the Edit button.

If the screen looks similar to the example above, you are on the right track. But you are not finished yet: you've only changed the permissions of the root folder, you still probably need to change the permissions of the files and subfolders to allow your user account to actually open the files. To do that, press the Advanced button and select the box at the bottom that reads Replace all child permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object:

Change permissions of the files and subfolders of an NTFS folder

Windows may ask you to confirm this action, press Yes to allow it to proceed. If the drive has a lot of files and folders, it may take quite awhile to finish. When all is done, close the Properties window and try to browse the drive and open the files it contains. You should be able to have a full access now, without any "access denied" messages.

If you see a message about a corrupted Recycle Bin, like the following one:

recycle Bin is corrupted after changing the owner of an NTFS root folder

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It's the result of changing the owner: Windows prevents you from peeking into the Recycle Bin created by the previous owner and retrieving the documents from it that used to belong to the previous owner. (It does not know it was you!) Reply Yes to empty the Recycle bin and it should become ready for use by you.

Happy computing!

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