Monthly Archives: January 2009

Does Using FireFox Make You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

I run a number of website tools that provide the type of information that allows me to make available a better experience for readers of this Blog, than I might otherwise be able to provide.

One of these tools makes available information on which web browser readers of this Blog use while visiting. It’s of no strategic value really; but it does provide some interesting statistics nonetheless. I’ve noticed over the course of the last year, or so, that by far the most popular browser used by readers of this Blog is, wait for it, and yes it’s FireFox.

Take a look at the chart below and you’ll notice that in one two hour period, this week, the browser wars went like this:

Browser Stats updated

(Click pic for larger)

So, 47% of visitors to this Blog use FireFox/Mozilla in one flavor or another. You might think that these are isolated or non representative numbers. In fact, these numbers with reasonable small changes up, or down, characterize the daily Browser activity on this Blog.

It struck me, that given the fact that FireFox currently has approximately 21% of the Browser market, then why are approximately 47% of this Blogs readers choosing FireFox?

Is it because they’re smarter, more technically knowledgeable, more security aware, more net savvy than the average IE user, or more familiar with the services/products that the Internet has to offer?

I think all of the above are more than likely true. Well perhaps not smarter. But it would be hard to argue that they’re not more technically savvy: after all this is a tech Blog.

I’d love to know what drives users to FireFox, so if you have a personal observation, let me know. I’d be glad to hear it.

7 Comments

Filed under Browsers, Firefox, Freeware, Google Chrome, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer, Internet Safety, Safari, Safe Surfing, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

How to Protect Your Child on the Internet

Instant Messanger changed There is little doubt that the Internet neighborhood can provide a rich educational and cultural experience for children of all ages and backgrounds.

But, would you drop your child off in a neighborhood where more than half of the buildings were adult stores, and was potentially full of predators? Well of course you wouldn’t.

If you let your child explore the Internet unsupervised, or without having communicated to your child information about potential on-line dangers, this is close to what you’re doing.

According to the FBI in the United States, the following are some of the most important positive actions, you as a parent can take, to enhance your child’s safety on the Internet.

Communicate, and talk to your child about potential on-line dangers.

Spend time with your children on-line. Have them teach you about their favorite on-line destinations.

Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child’s bedroom.

Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software.

Parental Control Bar 2

Since computer-sex offenders are a very real danger on the Internet, the FBI suggests that you instruct your children to:

Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line.

Never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or an on-line service to people they do not personally know.

Never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number.

Never download pictures from an unknown source; there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images.

Never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing.

Parental Control Bar 4

An important aspect of ensuring that your child is safe while using the Internet, (recommended by the FBI and child safety experts/organizations), is the installation of parental control software. Parental controls will provide you with the advantage of being able to:

Block access to materials (text and pictures) identified as inappropriate for kids.

Permit access only to materials specifically approved as safe for kids.

Specify what types of materials are appropriate for your child.

Monitor your child’s activity on the Internet by storing names of sites and/or snapshots of material seen by your child on the computer for you to view later.

Set different restrictions for each family member.

Limit results of an Internet search to content appropriate for kids.

Enforce time limits set by parents.

A free solution, available as a download from the Internet is Parental Control Bar, a browser toolbar which works on the most popular Internet browsers.

Parental Control Bar is provided free of charge to the public by WRAAC.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free, effective internet control tools.

Parental Control Bar Features:

Child/Parent Mode

This status indicator makes it easy to tell if your computer is in Child-Mode or Parent-Mode. When in Child-Mode, control features are enabled and web sites are blocked based on your parental settings. When in Parent-Mode, control features are disabled and you, the parent, have unrestricted access to the Internet.

Parental Password

A single password makes it easy for you, the parent, to enable or disable Child-Mode. There is a hint to help you remember your password, or if you forget it completely have it sent to a parental email address.

Help Menu

Clicking this button opens the toolbar menu where parents can access tutorials, help menus or change your password.

Change Parental Settings

Clicking this button opens the parental settings menu where you can specify the types of content you wish to block your family from accessing in Child-Mode. You can also manage your personal list of ‘blocked’ and ‘child-safe’ sites from this menu.

Easily Block Adult Sites

The toolbar helps block a significant amount of adult-oriented websites. In addition, you may select specific sites to block by clicking this button. Once you have added a website to the ‘blocked sites’ list it is only accessible in Parent-Mode

Parental Alert

When the toolbar is in Child-Mode, this parental alert blocks your child from accessing adult-oriented websites (based on your parental settings).

Add Web Site to Safe List

Clicking this button adds the website you are currently visiting to the ’safe site’ list. Once a website is added to the ’safe site’ list it can be accessed from either Child-Mode or Parent-Mode (regardless of site label).

For parents looking for a cost-effective tool to help give their children controlled freedom on the Internet, Parental Control Bar is a safe way to go.

System requirements:

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP

Internet Explorer 5.5 and above

FireFox 1.5 and above

Safari 10.4 and above

Download at: WRAAC.org

For more information on Internet safety issues for parents and /children/teenagers, I encourage you to visit CNET. This site includes information on the following.

Developing safe and smart Internet citizens

Parents, tech outdo lawmakers on Internet safety

Parental controls that keep tabs on young Web surfers

User-generated videos challenge parental controls

Growing concerns over cyber bullying

Readers address online safety for kids

8 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, Firefox Add-ons, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Children, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Parenting Help, Safari add-ons, Safe Surfing, Software, Utilities

Hard Drive Back Up – It’s All About the Data

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the blogging world. Mark has written this article to emphasize the importance of data back up on a regular and consistent basis.

Why not pay a visit to Mark’s site today.

Hard Drive Diag Today’s computers are amazing, especially when you consider the processing power available, and the amount of storage you can have for incredibly little money. You can easily build a $500 desktop computer today that has a multi-core processor, and a terabyte of storage, which has the power to edit video, or play graphic intensive video games.

But whether you’re running a $7000 custom high end gaming machine, or a $399 special from a sale at the local retailer the most important and precious thing in your computer is your data. Data is everything, it’s your kids baby pictures or your entire music collection.

The problem with data is, even though it’s the most important thing on your hard drive, it’s frequently the least considered. To protect your data generally isn’t very hard, but its very easy to put off. People rationalize that since the hard drive from that Windows 95 machine still runs that their current machine will be fine for now and I’ll just do that backup next week when I have time.

Unfortunately just when you least expect it, your hard drive crashes the night before you finished the report your boss wanted first thing in the morning or you lose the pictures of family members that can’t be replaced.

So now you know, backing up isn’t an option.  Backing up isn’t hard, and it doesn’t need to be complicated. If you’ve never backed up before it can be as simple as buying an external hard drive, or even a large thumb drive, and dragging your important files over to the external drive periodically.

Saving your important files to a external drive is the first step. The next step will be to implement an automated system of backing up at least once a week. For that you need software. If you are running Windows Vista and you want to keep it simple the built in “Backup and Restore Center“ will help you set up weekly backups of all your important data. It’s very simple and works well, I’ve successfully used it to back up and restore all the important data on my daughters computer after a disaster.

For a more thorough backup solutions I prefer third party programs. Acronis True Image Home, is an excellent program. It has more capabilities that many users may want but it has the capability to make an entire image of your hard drive as well as do incremental backups periodically, afterward.

AcronisTrueImageHome11

Programs that create an image, allow you to take the hard drive you backed up on, and put it in you machine and boot up like nothing ever happened. It saves your operating system, all of your programs, your settings and your data. The new version of Acronis has great new feature, it will perform dual backups to both a disk and hard drive at the same time.

This leads me to my last point, backing up to more than one location is very important. A simple solutions is to use two separate external hard drives, swap out one and backup to the second while you keep the other off site. This could be at work, at a friends house or anywhere away from your home.

Another effective off site backup is to do a backup to an online service of some kind. Microsoft offers a free 5 gigabyte storage service called “Skydrive” available to anyone with a Windows Live account. Amazon S3 service is another reliable online backup service, S3 isn’t free but you pay only for the space you use unlike some flat rate services.

skydrive_overview.2

Backing up is necessary inconvenience, developing a routine that fits your needs will make it relatively painless, and some day it will save you a lot of heartache. Remember there are two kinds of hard drives, those that have failed and those that will fail.

Many people get serious about backing up only, after they’ve lost all the pictures or music on their hard drive. There are many very good programs for backing up, either to local storage, or to an online service. I mentioned two which I’ve had experience with and trust, but there are many very good ones out there.

One last point.Some people using a new online backup services which offered “free” online storage from relatively new and unknown companies suddenly got a surprise when their online storage recently went offline forever, leaving them with no backup at all. So staying with companies like Amazon for your online “cloud” storage feels like a safe bet.

So backup early and often, because it’s all about the data.

8 Comments

Filed under Backup Applications, Backup Tools, Online Backup, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Portable Apps Suite Is Sweet – USB Office

USB Stick 1 With Portable Apps Suite, (free to use, free to copy, and free to share), you can carry your favorite portable computer programs with you on your USB flash drive, iPod, or portable hard drive, to school, work, or your hotel while you’re taking that much deserved vacation!

The Portable Apps Suite allows you to play your media files, browse the net, compose documents, or check your email on the road. The applications can be used on any Windows computer, and on shut down, to insure your privacy, will not leave any traces on the host computer.

PAS is a collection of portable applications which includes, ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Mozilla Firefox Portable Edition (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), OpenOffice.org Portable (office suite) compatible with Microsoft Word files,

Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Mozilla Sunbird Portable Edition (calendar/task manager) and Mozilla Thunderbird Portable Edition (email client), all preconfigured to work portably.

portable-apps

You can install any of three variations of Portable Apps Suite based on your preferences or your USB drive’s capacity.

Standard Suite – 260MB – All applications as noted above

Lite Suite – 105MB – AbiWord Portable substituted for Open Office

Base Suite – Basic Menu Program – add only the applications you choose

All versions of the Portable Apps Suite include the integrated Portable Apps Menu and the Portable Apps Backup utility, along with a set of custom icons, auto play configuration, folders, and a quick start shortcut.

System Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/Vista, and Wine under Linux/UNIX/BSD/Mac OS X

Download at: PortableApps.com

Additional portable applications offered for free download at PortableApps.com.

Accessibility

Firefox Accessibility Extension – Make Firefox more accessible

On-Screen Keyboard Portable – Easily access an on-screen keyboard

Virtual Magnifying Glass Portable – A full-featured screen magnifier

Development

Notepad++ Portable – A full-featured text editor with syntax highlighting

Nvu Portable & KompoZer Portable – The easy-to-use Nvu web editor

XAMPP – Apache, mySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin, in one package

Games

DOSBox Portable – classic DOS games to go

Mines-Perfect Portable – a classic hunt-for-mines game with advanced features

PokerTH Portable – classic Texas Hold Em style poker at its best

Sudoku Portable – the wildly popular and addictive puzzle game

Graphics & Pictures

GIMP Portable – Photo and Image Editor

Internet

FileZilla Portable – the full-featured FTP client

FireFTP Extension (for Firefox) – a lightweight extension

Miranda IM Portable – chat with AOL, MSN and Yahoo users in a customizable interface

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition – the award-winning web browser that’s safe and secure

Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition – the handy email client

Nvu Portable & KompoZer Portable – the easy-to-use webpage editor

Pidgin Portable – chat with AOL, MSN and Yahoo users in an easy-to-use interface

PuTTY Portable – lightweight telnet and SSH client

Sage Extension (for Firefox) – A full-featured RSS extension

WinSCP Portable – SFTP, FTP and SCP client

Music & Video

Audacity Portable – A simple audio editor and recorder

MPlayer Portable – Full-featured movie player with support for most video formats

VirtualDub Portable – video processing and capture utility

VLC Media Player Portable – An easy to use media player that plays most audio and video formats

Office

AbiWord Portable – a lightweight word processor compatible with Microsoft Word files

Lightning Extension (for Thunderbird) – A lightweight extension for your calendar and tasks

Mozilla Sunbird, Portable Edition – Calendar and task management with a familiar interface

Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition (Address Book) – Email client’s built-in address book with import/export functions

OpenOffice.org Portable – word processor, spreadsheet, presentations with Microsoft compatibility

Sumatra PDF Portable – a lightweight PDF viewer

Utilities

SwissMemory3

7-Zip Portable – File archiver and compressor

ClamWin Portable – Antivirus on the go

Command Prompt Portable – Simple link to a customizable command prompt

Eraser Portable – securely delete files and data

KeePass Password Safe Portable – Secure, easy-to-use password manager

PortableApps.com Backup – integrated backup utility bundled with the platform

PortableApps.com Menu – integrated start menu bundled with the platform

Toucan – backup, sync and encrypt for advanced users

Download at: PortableApps.com

2 Comments

Filed under Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Mobile Applications, Open Source, Portable Applications, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Simple/Wizard Driven 3DPlus 2 Design Software Free

serif3dplus2 As I’ve mentioned before on this Blog, SerifSoftware entices you in an unusual way to buy, or upgrade, to their latest software offerings. They will give you, free of charge, an older version of any of their software packages. An interesting twist on the usual “try it for free for 30 days” we are all pretty familiar with.

Having used and tested, Serif’s free editions for 10+ years now, and I find that even their older software is more than up to the tasks I set.

Sure, the applications may be older than the current versions, but in terms of functionality and features, generally you are not missing much. Most software today, tends to be overblown and bloated with features that many users have little or no need of. So, in these older free versions there are not as many tools as one might find with more recent products, but those that are there tend to be the ones that are most used by typical users.

serif3dplus2screen3

(Click pic for larger)

Despite the slightly dated appearance of Serif’s 3DPlus 2, this is not an ‘old’ program that’s been revived just for give-away. 3DPlus 2 is a very functional and easy-to-use tool, capable of producing great 3D graphics, logos, headlines and 3D animations.

Serif keeps things simple by offering template-based wizards for still and animated graphics, combined with preset controls and 3D content. The gallery of ready-made objects, from basic shapes to clothes, household appliances, sports equipment and more, is designed to save you time. As well, 3D Quickshapes gives you an easy shortcut to stars, arrows, speech bubbles and other basic shapes.

It won’t take you long to become familiar with keying in text, extruding it to create a 3D object, adding texture and lighting, dropping in a background image, adding other 3D objects from the library and changing the camera position to get a better view from above, below or behind.

There’s something pretty neat about being able to build a solid 3D object, move it around and view it from every angle. Serif 3DPlus 2 lets you do just that, without anything getting in the way of the fun.

Quick Facts:

Easy-to-Use Interface

• With its simple interface and intuitive tools, 3DPlus makes creating any 3D design a breeze. The new Wizard interface and convenient tabbed Studio Bar mean it’s easier than ever to get exactly the 3D effects you need.

Automated Wizards

• Get the precise result you need with 3DPlus 2’s collection of over 300 automatic Wizards. From designer logos and Web buttons to animated greetings, 3DPlus has a Wizard for every occasion.

Bevels and Extrusions

• Add a new dimension to your text and designs. Choose from a range of customizable bevels, apply to your objects and watch as 3DPlus creates professional quality effects.

Web Impact

• 3DPlus is the perfect tool for creating 3D logos, banners, Web graphics and animations. With 3DPlus you can add a 3D look that will really make your site stand out.

Automatic Animation

• With 3DPlus, 3D animated graphics are easy Object and lighting effects can be applied with a single click and easy-to-use yet powerful 3D animation tools and instant special effects allow you to create animations in seconds. Export your work as an animated GIF to your Web site or presentation.

Camera Control

• View your scene from any angle with six preset camera positions and freeform orbiting.

Lighting Effects

• With full control over the lighting of your scene and a gallery of preset schemes, 3DPlus allows you to add drama or subtlety to your scene with a single click. You can create and save your favorite lighting schemes for future use.

Models/Materials Gallery

• Personalize your work. Choose from over 600 3D Models and over 500 backgrounds, textures and fills, all easily accessible from 3DPlus’s easy-to-use gallery.

Text and Effects

• Add text and apply textures, bevels and shadows to create effects. Whether you need a new logo for your company, product or club, or a new graphic for your Web site, 3DPlus makes it easy to get the look you want.

3D Objects and Materials

• Creating 3D Objects is easy with 3DPlus. The materials, patterns and textures in the 3DPlus Library provide all the power and flexibility you need to create 3D elements, 3D worlds, scenes, and animations.

3D QuickShapes

• Can’t draw? 3D QuickShapes work like intelligent clipart, no need to draw at all, just select and customize.

System Requirements: Windows 95/ 98/ 2000/ XP

Download at: SerifSoftware

2 Comments

Filed under Drawing Software, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Cloud Computing – Is Your Head In The Cloud Yet?

This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

cloud[1] As Glenn explains “Even though I spend most of my day at a desktop or on the road (in the Pacific NW), with my laptop, I have an insatiable thirst for leading edge computer technology that helps me get my job done faster.

I firmly believe we are on the verge of an open source cloud computing world. The company I work for is making great strides in making our software web accessible (which is no small feat!) I am excited to share my cloud research as it evolves”.

Take a look at some of the Cloud applications Glenn has discovered, and has put to good use.

HOMEPAGE

iGoogle – I love all things Google and this is my first stop when I enter The Cloud. Check out the Radiohead theme to customize iGoogle.

WEB MAIL

Gmail – integrates nicely with pretty much everything. It’s also the consummate beta so if you are a geek wannabee, you can make sure to tell everyone you are testing beta software.

RSS READER

Google Reader – The best RSS news compiler.

OFFICE DOCS

Google Docs – Word processing, Spreadsheets, calendar, etc.

FILE HOSTING

Mediafire – Unlimited file hosting for all types of files. I use it to back up my media and it has an excellent photo album view that lets you share files and folders. Highly recommend.

PERSONAL DATA / PASSWORD MANAGER

Clipperz – I’m still a little weary of putting my bank account info in The Cloud but Clipperz uses a pretty strong encryption method which is fine for storing your other passwords.

BOOKMARKS

Delicious – Does an excellent job managing your web bookmarks and integrates nicely with Firefox.

PHONE CONFERENCING

Rondee – I use it and it works great.

Calliflower – I use this service as a backup. Haven’t had to yet…

FILE COMPRESSION

Shrinkfile – Compresses/Extracts files to zip, etc.

FILE CONVERSION

Zamzar – I use this to convert open office docs to Microsoft doc formats. It will pretty much convert any file you throw at it to a compatible format.

IMAGE HOSTING

Rapidpik – I use this to host image files for my blog on occasion. Very fast and no sign up required.

PHOTO EDITING

Photofunia – Uses face recognition technology to insert your mug in a variety of different poses.

Face In A Hole – Another face recognition site. Just upload your favorite face photo and choose the pose.

PixiFX – Online image editor. I like the various borders they offer (among other effects). Once again, upload your photo and choose your effect. User friendly.

MEETING SCHEDULER

Diarised – I haven’t had the opportunity yet to use this but I’m anxious to. Very nice layout.

CALCULATOR

Ecalc – This is the daddy of all things calculated and converted.

LARGE FILE SENDER

Filemail – I use this every once in awhile when I have to send a large file(s) to someone who’s email won’t accept large files. This happens to me frequently.

FAX

Drop.io – Online fax machine. It’s a pain to use but it works in a pinch.

Another promising cloud technology that I’m keeping my eye on (I already registered, it’s not yet available) is Grand Central which has just been purchased by Google. Check it out, it looks pretty cool.

14 Comments

Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Google, Interconnectivity, Networking, Productivity Software, Recommended Web Sites, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools

Encrypt Your USB Drive with Free Software

encryption 1 What is it they say about the shoemaker’s daughter – oh yes; she has no shoes!

What is it they say about the computer tech who consistently warns computer users to take particular care of USB drives to ensure they won’t be lost, or stolen? Well today they might say – he should be more careful and follow his own advice!

I have made a habit, these last several years, of carrying one or more USB drives with me no matter the activity I’m engaged in. So it wasn’t unusual that while skiing this past weekend, I had two flash drives with me. What was unusual though was – I lost both sticks on the slopes. Yes, skiing occasionally involves falling head over heels.

Other than the minor cost involved in replacement, and the drudgery of reinstalling my trusty ‘tech toolbox” no real harm occurred since both drives were encrypted. Nevertheless, the lesson learned here was – none of us are infallible.

Sure, I know, you’ll never lose your USB flash drive, and you take particular care to ensure it won’t be stolen. But does loss, or theft, of a USB stick happen? You bet. My recent experience is a perfect example. Just this past week, it was reported that in the U.K., 9,000 USB drives were found by dry cleaners in 2008.

The following are selected statistics, but they make the point that USB sticks, or other portable media devices, frequently get lost, or stolen.

Privacyrights.org recently reported that in the last two years, personal information on over 244 million Americans has being stolen, or exposed in other ways.

– Recently in the U.K., an unencrypted Ministry of Defense USB drive was found on the floor of a nightclub. That’s not much of a story I suppose, but added to the other fifty eight Ministry of Defense unencrypted drives that were reported lost in 2008 which contained details of troop movements, locations, and travel accommodation, and it takes on a different perspective.

– In the U.S., The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) recently admitted the loss of an unencrypted external hard drive containing the personal, bank and payroll information of up to 100,000 of its former and current employees who worked for the agency from January 2002 until August 2005.

– Several months ago, unencrypted data on all 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales went missing after a contractor lost a USB stick on which it had been stored.

– According to Security Software Zone

“Government data loss and data leakages related to lost or stolen computer memory sticks, are now commonplace.”

In too many of these cases, negligently, the data is unencrypted. Certainly Laptop/ USB flash drive theft or loss is not restricted to organizations; we know that it can just as easily happen to you or me.

To reduce or eliminate the security threat to your sensitive data, the most prudent course for you to follow is to encrypt your data. If you’re unfamiliar with data encryption; simply put, it is a process by which bits of data are mathematically jumbled with a password-key. The process makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted by you.

Microsoft revealed recently that Windows 7, its next operating system, will include a feature that will let users encrypt USB drives.

In the meantime, here are a number of free encryption applications that will encrypt your data and are suitable for a USB flash drive.

EncryptOnClick

Encryptonclick 1 EncryptOnClick is a free program that lets you securely encrypt and decrypt files. The program is very simple to use, and features military grade 256-bit AES encryption.

After you have launched the application, simply select the target file/folder you want to encrypt.

Following the easy interface, type a password for that file/folder which will then be encrypted. To open the encrypted file/folder at a later date, you must type the correct password.

Quick facts:

A very secure encryption and decryption method is used (256-bit AES encryption)

Files are both compressed & encrypted, which results in a smaller file

Password protected

Will encrypt single files or all files in a folder

Very simple to use interface

Can be used on a USB key

Fully Unicode enabled so filenames in any language can be encrypted

Will encrypt, decrypt, compress, and uncompress files which can also be opened and decrypted using third party programs like WinZip 9 – provided the correct password is used

Will detect if you’re decrypting a file that is in a temporary folder, and if so, will prompt you to see if you would like to decrypt it into a different folder

Command line parameters can be used

Complete help file

Free technical support, online forums, knowledge base, and FAQs at 2BrightSparks

Tip: Use on a USB key by copying the files EncryptOnClick.exe, EncryptOnClick.exe manifest, ExceedZip.dll to a named folder on the USB key.

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP

Download at: Download.com

TrueCrypt

truecrypt 3 TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software system, (one I have using for the last several years) for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume.

On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted or decrypted just before they are loaded or saved, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/correct encryption keys.

TrueCrypt uses 11 algorithms for encrypting private files in a password-protected volume. You can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or a portable storage device such as a USB flash drive.

Once your encrypted files are mounted to a local drive with your password or key, you can manipulate those files, i.e. you can open, copy, delete, or modify them. When you have completed working on those files, you then dismount the volume and the files are then safely secured from unauthorized access.

Quick Facts:

Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk

Encrypts an entire hard disk partition or a storage device such as USB flash drive

Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent

Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password – Hidden volume – No TrueCrypt volume can be identified – volumes cannot be distinguished from random data

Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS

Ability to encrypt a system partition/drive (i.e. a partition/drive where Windows is installed) with pre-boot authentication (anyone who wants to gain access and use the system, read and write files, etc., needs to enter the correct password each time before the system starts

System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista

Download at: Download.com

For those of you who are more interested in protecting files, or folders, on your home computer the two applications above will do the job nicely. Choice is good of course, so here is an additional free program that you might be interested in.

My Lockbox

mylockbox 1 My Lockbox is a freeware software application that allows you to do just that, and then password protect those files on your computer.

Other users will not have access to these files, nor will they be able to accidentally, or otherwise, view them or manipulate them in any way.

The protected folder (lockbox) is hidden from all other users and applications on your computer; including the Administrator and the System. The lockbox (protected folder), is impossible to access not only from the local computer, but also from the Internet.

Following the on-screen instructions makes this program extremely easy to setup and use. The lockbox location, password, and parameters are configured during the easy setup procedure.

After the setup is completed, the lockbox will be hidden and locked until you, as the user, enter the valid password. My Lockbox Control Panel allows you easily change basic lockbox parameters: lockbox location, protection status, and password.

The program is effective, easy to use and best of all – it’s free.

Quick facts:

Very easy to use

Almost any folder on your computer can be password protected

Instant protection – no file scrambling

Lockbox folder is inaccessible even by the system administrators

Lockbox folder is inaccessible both locally and remotely

Lockbox folder can be protected in Windows safe mode

Hotkeys support – you can popup the Control Panel with a keystroke

Skinned user interface

Freeware

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Server, Vista

Download at: Download.com

5 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Encryption, Encryption Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Mobile Applications, Open Source, Privacy, Software, System Security, USB, Utilities, Windows 7