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One of the things that still surprises me is the fact that modern operating systems still don’t make it easy for the average user to password protect a folder. I’m not even talking about encrypting a folder – just a simple password to keep prying eyes out. I know a lot of families who share a computer and even share a single user account, and therefore they all have access to the same files. That makes it pretty easy for someone to accidentally overwrite another user’s files without much thought.

A lot of times these families don’t need completely separate user accounts, but rather just need a single folder where they can safely store their precious files that they’d hate to lose. My Lockbox is a free Windows app that comes close to that. The free version lets you protect one folder on your computer with a password, and can be locked/unlocked as you deem necessary. You can even specify certain processes (such as an antivirus programs) that get unrestricted access to the folder regardless of whether it is locked or unlocked.

Here are some highlights of what My Lockbox has to offer:

  • Hotkey to open Control Panel with a simple keystroke.
  • Effective password protection.
  • FAT, FAT32, NTFS volumes are supported.
  • Supports all modern Windows operating systems (XP, Vista, 7) including 64-bit editions.
  • Almost any folder on your computer can be password protected.
  • Prevents you from locking system-critical folders, e.g. C:\Windows.
  • Instant protection – no file scrambling or moving to another place.
  • Trusted processes feature lets backup, antivirus or similar software backup or scan your protected folder.
  • Protects folders even in Windows safe mode.

Ultimately this doesn’t solve the issue for the average user largely because apps like this will never reach mass adoption. What I’d like to see is an option built-in to Windows that gives users the ability to right-click on any non-system folder and specify a password for it. Programs like My Lockbox, however, may prove to be useful for other reasons. One that I can think of is at work where your boss might be able to get access to your computer account, but with this tool you can at the very least keep him out of a specific folder.

My Lockbox Homepage (Windows only; Freeware)