Tag Archives: password protection

How to easily password-protect Windows 10 Linux folders with Folder Guard

As you probably know, the newest versions of Windows 10 allow one to add a separate Linux operating system to be used directly from Windows. It was possible to access such systems with the command shell for quite a while, but the newest releases of Windows 10 make it possible to browse the Linux files with Windows Explorer, too:

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) can be browsed with File Explorer

(As of this writing, this feature is only available for the Windows Insider users, but it's expected to become available for all users in the next major Windows 10 update.)

While this is a very handy feature, you probably don't want someone getting hold of your PC to mess around with your Linux files that easily. Wouldn't it be nice to protect access to the Linux file system with a password? As usual in such a situation, Folder Guard is to the rescue!

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How to protect a Windows Linux folder with password

The easiest way to set up a password for the Linux folder is to drag that folder with the mouse and drop it over the Folder Guard application window. Don't do it for the very top level item named Linux, because that's a virtual folder that cannot be protected, but you should be able to do it for the folder representing the Linux distribution (Ubuntu-18.04 in our example below.) If you want to protect a specific subfolder deeper within the Linux file system, you can drag such a folder, too, instead of the root folder of the distribution. Also make sure that the Locked view (the one that contains the list of the password-protected folders) is active within the Folder Guard application. After you've dropped a Linux distribution folder over the Folder Guard window, it should start the usual password protection wizard automatically:

Folder Guard wizard for protecting a Linux folder with a password

Don't be alarmed when you see that the path of the folder to protect starts with \\wsl$: this is the name of the internal virtual network server that Windows creates specifically to offer access to the Linux files via the Windows file system. Press Next to specify the password, and then to select the desired properties for the password (you can find more information about the password options in the User's Guide.) :

Properties for the password to protect a Linux folder

As you can see, setting up a password for a Linux folder is not different from password protecting any other Windows folder. After you've finished the wizard, the Linux folder you've just protected should appear in the Locked view of Folder Guard:

Password protected Linux folder is now listed in Folder Guard application

Press Protect (or Apply) button in Folder Guard toolbar and the protection of the folder should take place after that. Try opening the Linux folder with File Explorer and you should see the familiar Unlock button:

The Linux folder is password protected with Folder Guard

Press the Unlock button, enter the password, and the access to the Linux file system should be granted:

The Linux folder after it has been unlocked with the password protected with Folder Guard

Notice the Lock button that appears in the title bar of File Explorer: just like with other Folder Guard protected folders, you can use this button to lock the folder back after you are done working with the files it contains.

That's all it takes to set up a password for a Linux folder. Keep in mind that such password protection works only when you are trying to access the Linux folders with File Explorer. If you were to use the command shell window, you would NOT see the password prompt:

The Linux folder can be accessed with command shell

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The technical reason for such a behavior is that, unlike File Explorer, the command shell does not use the \\wsl$ server to work with the Linux files, it uses a different mechanism for that. There is a way to protect access for such a method with Folder Guard, too, we plan to discuss it in a separate article.

Happy computing!

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How to unhide a folder hidden with Folder Guard

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If you've used Folder Guard to lock a folder with a password, it's obvious how to unprotect such a folder: just double-click on the folder's icon, enter your password, and the folder would be unlocked. However, what if you have set up the folder to be hidden altogether? In such a case, when you browse your computer, you would not see the folder in the Explorer windows, and there would be no icon to double-click on! So, how to unlock the folder if it's invisible?

The solution is simple: use any of the available methods offered by Folder Guard to pause the protection, and that should make any hidden folders instantly visible:

Folder Guard offers several tools to display such a screen:

  • 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:

When you are done using the folder, how to hide the hidden folder back? Use any of the same tools listed above, but this time choose to Resume the protection:

Happy computing!

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Test the strength of your password with USBCrypt

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt encryption software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.

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When using USBCrypt to password protect drives, you have probably wondered, how difficult would it be for someone to just try all possible character combinations and discover the correct password that way? If someone were to write a program to automate the process of simulating the password entry, how fast would it take to discover the correct password?

Well, you may be surprised to learn that there is no need to write a special program for that, because USBCrypt already includes such a command out of the box! It’s easy to try it: just try starting an encrypted drive, as usual, but instead of entering the password, click on the Tools button and select the Recover Password item on the menu:

USBCrypt comes with a command to recover the password by using the brute force

On the next screen, select the character set you want to try. You can select the minimum and maximum length of the passwords to try, and also choose between the lower-case or upper-case characters, digits, special characters, or any combination of them:

The settings for the Recover Password command of USBCrypt

When you press the Start button, USBCrypt starts to try the passwords from the character set you’ve selected, in turn, until it finds one that unlocks the encrypted drive. It displays the progress in a separate window, that also shows the estimated time to complete the enumeration of all possible passwords:

The progress of the Recover Password command of USBCrypt

If you’ve selected a very simple password, it can be discovered rather quickly, and the result is displayed right away:

The successful result of the Recover Password command of USBCrypt

What about the more complex passwords? The time to try them all grows rapidly as the length of the password or its complexity increases. Here are a few numbers, obtained on a computer with a mid-range (as of the time of this writing) Intel i5-650 CPU:

Characters/Maximum lengthUp to 3Up to 5Up to 7
Lowercase30 minutes15 days28 years
Lowercase + Uppercase4 hours1 year35 hundred years
Lowercase + Uppercase + digits7 hours3 years12 thousand years
Lowercase + Uppercase + digits + all special characters1 day 26 years240 thousand years

(You may get different numbers, depending on the CPU your computer has.)

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As you can see, by choosing a password that’s complex enough, you can protect your secrets with USBCrypt pretty well. On the flip side, take care to remember your password, because if you forget it, it would be practically impossible to recover it (unless you have created a spare key file with USBCrypt, of course.

Happy encrypting!

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Password protect folders, lock files and folders with passwords

Folder locked

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...

USBCrypt software

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

This software is compatible with Windows 10

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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Using names and labels to organize USBCrypt drives

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If you use USBCrypt to protect just one or two drives, it’s easy to keep track of them. However, when the number of the encrypted drives grows, it becomes more difficult to keep them organized. The fact that each physical drive can be represented by two drive letters (one for the host drive and another one for the Virtual Encrypted Disk it contains) does not make it any easier. To help you manage the encrypted drives, USBCrypt offers you the options of assigning names to them. There are several names used by USBCrypt and Windows in different places of their user interfaces. Let us discuss them in detail.

When you encrypt a drive for the first time, USBCrypt asks you to choose two names: the Virtual Encrypted Disk name and the Host Disk name:

Choosing the encrypted drive name

The first name (for the Virtual Encrypted Disk) is used when displaying the windows and menus of USBCrypt. For example, it is shown on the USBCrypt window when starting the encrypted disk:

Starting a Virtual Encrypted Disk

This name is also displayed on the USBCrypt “balloon” notifications:

An Encrypted Disk has been attached

Or, when you right-click on a USBCrypt taskbar icon, you can see the name of Virtual Encrypted Disk on the menu:

The Virtual Encrypted Disk menu

As you can see, by using different names with different Virtual Encrypted Disk, you can make it easier to recognize them in Windows.

What about the second name you are asked to enter when encrypting a drive, the Host Disk name? This name is displayed by Windows as a label next to the host disk:

The Host Disk label

You can change the default name “USBCrypt Host Disk” to something more descriptive. Keep in mind, however, than both the Host Disk and Virtual Encrypted Disk names are NOT encrypted: they can be seen even before you enter the password to start the encrypted drive.

What if later on you’ve decided that other names would describe your encrypted drive better? You can change both the Virtual Encrypted Disk and Host Disk names by clicking on the Tools button on the Start Virtual Encrypted Disk window:

Changing the Virtual Encrypted Disk and Host Disk names

If you change the Virtual Encrypted Disk name, it takes effect immediately. However, if you change the Host Disk name, you may need to restart the computer before Windows would recognize the new name.

Besides the Virtual Encrypted Disk and Host Disk names, there is a third name that Windows uses to refer to the Virtual Encrypted Disks you create: it’s the labels it shows next to the Virtual Encrypted Disks in the Explorer windows:

Virtual Encrypted Disk label

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The default text for the label is “Virtual Encrypted Disk” if you have chosen the NTFS file system for it, or just “ENCRYPTED” if you have formatted it with the FAT file system (because FAT limits the number and kind of characters that can be used in a drive label). USBCrypt itself does not provide a command to change such a label, because Windows itself offers it: you can change the label of an encrypted drive in the same way as of any other drive: by right-clicking on the drive and choosing Properties from the menu:

Changing the Virtual Encrypted Disk label

Enter the desired name there, and the label will change. Unlike the Virtual Encrypted Disk and the Host Disk names we’ve discussed above, the Virtual Encrypted Disk label is encrypted, along with all other data the encrypted disk contains: this label is only displayed by Windows after you’ve entered the correct password to start the encrypted disk.

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