Thursday, January 28, 2021

Folder Guard Review

Folder Guard is a computer security program that lets you restrict access to various computer resources. If you share your computer with others, you can use Folder Guard to stop other users from opening your personal files, or you can completely hide your files until a password is entered. You can also protect sensitive system files from modification or destruction, disable access to the removable drives, restrict access to Control Panel and applications, and more.

Does it do what it promises?

Reviewer 1: After installing and using the product, I went back to the Website and reread the description of what the program promises to do. It does indeed do what it promises to do.

Reviewer 2: Folder Guard Pro does what it promises after a bit of anxiety on the user’s part arising from the terminology during the initial installation.

Reviewer 3: Yes. It restricts access to the folders of your choice to keep others from tampering with files. It makes folders secure and even invisible if you wish.

Reviewer 4: Yes. The Website gives a full and accurate description of this software’s capabilities

Reviewer 5: Yes.

Reviewer 6: Yes. Folder Guard allows you to protect files and folders, restrict access to the Control Panel and other system resources, and prevent users of your computer from making changes to important system files. You can also block the downloading and installation of programs, restrict access to floppy or other removable drives and use other fine-tuning tools such as filters to customize access in multiple ways.

Reviewer 7: Yes it does — comprehensively, and with significant safeguards to prevent the User from getting into water over his/her head.

Was it easy to install?

Reviewer 1: I had no problem with installation. The prompts were typical and intuitive.

Reviewer 2: After the initial installation process and before the application goes into the configuration, I was prompted to create an emergency Recovery Utility. This file will help you to reset a protected folder by resetting your forgotten password. After the Emergency Recovery Utility was completed, we are prompted for a “master” password which will protect Folder Guard from unauthorized access. The Quick Start Wizard is then started. What I like is a warning to creat a “test” folder so if thing goes array as you are learning the application, you will not accidentally destroy or lose any valuable information. You are directed to Browse for a folder or to create a new one and then to assign a password or not.

Reviewer 3: Yes, I had no problems with installation.

Reviewer 4: Installation was smooth. There were no glitches.

Reviewer 5: Yes; a standard Windows install using the Installation Wizard. It is small 1.2MB download which, even on a dialup connection, takes less than three minutes.

Reviewer 6: Yes. Installation was straightforward and I was able to specify the location, shortcuts and other program parameters. I have a tendency to dislike software that makes assumptions and insists on placing itself in my startup folder or dumping shortcuts here and there. Folder Guard was properly respectful of my wishes, and went where I told it.

Reviewer 7: Yes, the program was straightforward to install, but more importantly, it includes a comprehensive and superbly-designed Quick Start Wizard to guide (and protect) the user during initial setup and deployment.

Good points

Reviewer 1: Its best point, and probably most important, is that it seems to be very secure. I created a “dummy” folder and password-protected it for experimentation. I then tried every way I could think of to get into that folder, move it, delete it, copy it or otherwise compromise its security. I could not get into it at all. I would feel reasonably sure that anyone who does not know the password would not be able to get into a protected file or folder. I also found it easy to use.

Reviewer 2: After the password wizard is run and you are ready to shut down the system, you will be prompted to have the application test the integrity of the protection. If you have a automated backup’s in place, you have to make sure the protection of any files or folders is disabled as they will not get backed up.

Reviewer 3Folder Guard allows you to choose the level of security you place on your files, from password protection to making the folders and files invisible to unwanted snoops. It is very user-friendly and powerful. It opens with a step-by-step wizard that explains exactly how to use the program.

Reviewer 4: Allows files, folders and drives to be hidden or restricted from other users on shared computers and across networks. This software can be used to mask signs of its own existence on your system. When running in this mode, it can be revealed and run by keyboard entry of a hotkey combination which the user selects.The wizard and interface are clear. The “Explorer-like” color coded display makes it easy to see which items have been restricted or masked.

Reviewer 5: This is an excellent program. I am certain the actual coding behind Folder Guard is very complicated, but its operation is simple. And what it does is something many people wished they had at one time or another: a way to protect certain files from anyone who might use their computer. Simply put, Folder Guard denies access and/or hides individual folders (or directories) from anyone who does not have a password. “Hides” is the key word. If you tell Folder Guard to hide a folder, it just simply isn’t there. No one can see it, much less go browsing into it. It truly becomes invisible to all applications including Windows programs like Explorer, applications like Office, and even MS-DOS programs.

While Windows XP (and Windows 2000/NT) allows a user to use its built-in security to control access to data stored on NTFS volumes, Folder Guard allows you to secure folders and files on both the NTFS and FAT/FAT32 drives with greater flexibility. You can hide some files and keep other files in the same folder visible, set up access rights using wildcards, or make files accessible to only some programs and not accessible to the rest of the application.

For those users of Windows 98, 98SE, or ME, all of which do not support file security, you can use Folder Guard to keep your important files and documents protected from unauthorized use. I also like the fact that you can determine the level of security and/or sophistication the program. Minimally, you can add no passwords to the program. leaving the security open, but allowing anyone at the computer to use it without seeing the hidden files or folders. At the other end of the spectrum, you can password-protect the Folder Guard program, the Master user, and then lock accessibility and visibility to those same files and folders. The information does not show up anywhere, even in MS DOS mode.

Reviewer 6: The first thing that I wish to comment on does not really have much to do with the actual operation of the program, but the way that the Folder Guard people introduce you to the program. Before starting to explain any “how-to’s” the Users Guide, and the Web-site help start with, “IMPORTANT: First of all, a word of warning …” The user is encouraged to treat Folder Guard carefully, so as not to inadvertently make parts or all of their computer inaccessible.

There is even a recommendation to do a backup before trying out any new software, including Folder Guard. In the same vein, in order to get yourself out of potential serious difficulty, you are encouraged to set yourself up with an Emergency Recovery procedure, either on another location of your hard drive, or a floppy disk or both. And if ever these do not work, you can use an Emergency Recovery Utility (free download from their web-site) to get yourself out of trouble.

I also like the layout of the Users Guide. At the very beginning, you are given a link to make sure that you are using the most recent version of the Users Guide. Right underneath are hyperlinks to all the items in the Guide, as well as the usual left-pane booklets with plus signs beside them. The guide is very well designed and easy to use, with many graphics included to step the user through unfamiliar areas of the program. You can also find additional help on the Website itself. To get you started, there is a Quick Start Wizard. You should, or course, test Folder Guard out on a specially created Test folder, before committing any important data or programs to The Guard.

You can use this wizard at any time to set up other folders or system resources and it does work very well. However, I would also recommend that a new user, especially one who is not sure of such ideas as “Attributes” and “Access Privileges” go to the Website. In the Folder Guard section of the site, find the pages titled “How to Hide a Folder”, copy the page and paste it into Notepad or some other text editor. Print those few pages, and go through the steps outlined there. This is not to criticize the Wizard, which is, like all other aspects of this program, very well designed. If you are just a bit unsure of things, and take the warnings to be careful to heart, doing this just once will give you the confidence to use all the other excellent tools offered in this program.

Reviewer 7: Clear, well-written and easy to follow User’s Guide documentation — by far the best that I ever recall seeing during my years on the Panel. Not only are all features covered in just the right detail, but they are described succinctly – and even rarer = in plain English remarkably free of any technical jargon, despite the necessity of having to delve into Windows’ internals from time to time. Adding a Table of Contents and an Index would make it perfect! Comprehensive, well-designed User-Interface, in particular the Quick Start Wizard which describes the options and leads the user through setup of the initial protections.

And also, very wisely, an Emergency Recovery Utility provided to rescue users who paint themselves in a corner, as MANY no doubt will, given the power it puts into the hands of PC users. Outstanding technical design which sets up a protection structure without modifying the master/original User- & System Files. It also provides extensive safeguards to protect itself from intrusion or modification. Outstanding Website design, everything I wanted to know or find out about the program:what it did, how much it cost, how to download and activate it, what maintenance was available for how long and at what cost, was provided in a layout convenient to read and especially easy to navigate.

Weak points

Reviewer 1: The program allowed me to enter a single-digit number as the primary password. While this may make it convenient for the user to just remember that one digit, it is also a compromise in security. A more stringent minimum requirement should be in place regarding password choice, preferably a requirement that there be a minimum of 6 characters, at least one letter and at least one number, and case sensitive. If we are talking about securing critical information, then let’s make it secure from a “password guesser”. In the past, if I had a hard drive crash or changed computers and did not have the original registration code for a program I had purchased online, I simply contacted the company who looked up my name and/or email address, and they supplied me with the registration code again.

I find this to be a nice gesture, especially when someone who has just replaced a hard drive or a whole computer is probably feeling a little stressed at the time. Instead, Folder Guard offers to supply a replacement registration code, but they will charge the user for this service. Of course it is entirely within their rights to do that, and the user should have kept track of it in the first place; but, I would just like to see the replacement code given as a sign of goodwill and good customer service at no extra charge.

Reviewer 2: When you manually start Folder Guard Pro, there is no visible activity indicating that the program is even running. It takes a couple of seconds before you are aware that, in fact, things are working. It is a bit unnerving. After the installation, the user is prompted with a number of warnings. One wonders what one is getting into and do we really want to set up this type of scheme. “Please backup your files and folders before this program is installed” will definitely scare away a few novice users. One area which was a bit nerve-racking are the terms used throughout. I had to reread carefully what was being described. I was unsure of some of the terminology.

Reviewer 3: Folder Guard is not active in safe mode, which makes your files accessible in that case; but, the person would have to be specifically looking for your protected files. For this reason, I would not recommend it for very sensitive or professional secret data. For anyone else it’s great.

Reviewer 4: Unless a special procedure, which has to be specially requested from the company, is followed, all protection is removed by rebooting in safe mode. When running in evaluation mode (before purchasing a license) the protection can be removed by running the emergency utility which is freely downloadable from the website. This is fully disclosed. Once a license is purchased, the utility is more secure since it can only be used if the license key is correctly entered. When using the Wizard to select folders to mask, I changed my mind about a folder which I had selected but had not finalized. I pressed the “Back” button to return to the selection page and chose other folders. To my surprise, this did not undo the original selection. Fortunately, this was evident on the standard interface and was easily corrected. There’s a mention in the documentation that data should be unmasked before backing up a drive or folder containing that data. It was not clear what the consequence would be for failure to do so, but if the backup function did not work properly, this could make your data less secure.

Reviewer 5: On the negative side, it took me a while to break down some of the terms that were used in the introduction. It may be a bit intimidating for the less-experienced computer user. Also, every once in a while, the guide’s author dropped to a personal level which was distracting for me. The only other concern I had with Folder Guard was a security issue. It is not active when the computer is in safe or command mode. While this is a great option for the Folder Guard administrator (you) who cannot remember his/her password, it is a hacker’s dream. People who have very sensitive, high-risk data and do not have other NT-type “policies” or security specific programs on their computer may want to consider a program that has more protection.

Reviewer 6: I have found this program to be very well designed and executed, leaving me little to complain about. I would just offer one suggestion to the Folder Guard Team, and that would be to add a printer-friendly function to the setup instructions on the Website. As already mentioned, the Help is already in the superior category; this might just make the program a little easier for those who like to work from the written word.

Reviewer 7: Nowhere on their Website nor in the program documentation could I find any mention of who the intended user (with what skills) might be. Another way of getting at that would be to describe user problem scenarios Folder Guard was addressing, such as preventing employees from accessing personnel files, preventing children from accessing X-Rated Websites after school instead of doing their Internet research homework or whatever, etc. Technical support is provided only via email, with no turnaround time specified, and for a committed duration of only three months. They need to provide longer duration technical support (at a price, if necessary) and to state their user response time objectives if they want to be taken seriously in any but the casual user arena. And casual users rarely, actually VERY rarely, require this high a degree of security, which again raises the question of “Who is the user/customer??? Sometimes Folder Guard’s tentacles reach too deep in the system for the user’s own good: the ability to hide or restrict access to systems files can cause a lot of trouble in a hurry.

Other comments

Reviewer 1: When a protected folder is deleted, the program still looks for it on the next bootup. You can choose to “Skip”, but unless you save the configuration during that session, the program will just look for the deleted folder at the next bootup. I would think the software should be smart enough to realize when a folder is deleted. An email to the support department solved this quickly: they just told me to hit Skip, then Save. The program won’t look for that folder again. I use a disk imaging program to backup my entire hard drive. After setting a folder to be password protected, I found that the next time I ran a backup image, it would not complete because it did not have access to that protected folder. I could put the protected folder on a different partition and solve the problem that way, but I certainly would not want to keep all of my confidential data on a separate partition and not backed up. Again, a quick email to support solved this problem. There is a setting in the program where the user can designate certain applications that are authorized to access a particular protected file or folder. Once I designated my Acronis TrueImage program as authorized, the backups went smoothly.

Reviewer 2: I find this a strong system to protect both files and folders and the level of granularity is good in that it allows one to set levels of security for different users.

Reviewer 3: Folder Guard allows you to limit access to private files, or just protect them from accidental deletion. It is easy to use and is a great way to protect your files and folders. For anyone with children, a family-use computer, or any reason to restrict access to files, it is a program I recommend.

Reviewer 4: Despite the issues described above, this is stronger protection for sensitive data on a shared system than other methods I am aware of other than removing the data from the system.

Reviewer 5: Despite the minimal flaws, I was impressed with Folder Guard. It’s user-friendly, clearly defined, and packed with information. I marveled at how simple yet powerful the program really is. You will find Folder Guard indispensable if you share your computer with others and you don’t want any changes made to your files; if you don’t want your parents or spouses to see some of your files; or, if you are a network administrator and your users give you a headache messing the files up. In whatever way you use Windows, any concerns you may have about the security, privacy, or confidentiality of your files can be easily and effectively solved with Folder Guard.

Reviewer 6: I work with a lot of personal and confidential client information, and, up to now, I have used encryption software to secure it. This works, except that it does have to be unencrypted before I have access to it. Folder Guard is much easier to use on a daily basis. And if I want to, I can use the encryption software inside “Folder Guarded” folders. This is a very complete program doing a specific job inside a specific niche. It allows great flexibility in hiding, protecting or limiting access to many parts of your data, programs or systems resources. There are three versions of the program: one for the DOS-based versions of Windows, such as Windows 98; one is for the more recent versions of Windows; and the Professional Version works with all Windows systems including the Server Versions. There is also “My Secret Folder” (not reviewed here) available for people who wish simply to restrict access to files and folders, without the other functions available in Folder Guard. It is good to see a software company recognizing the needs of the large number of people who continue to use older equipment, as well as continuing to improve their product to take advantage of the abilities and attributes of the newer operating systems.

Reviewer 7: A price of $40 I think is just right for the functionality offered, but an additional fee of $23 (Box + S&H) is double what it ought to be. I suspect many people will gag on that. Conversely, the provided one year of free upgrades (not just fixes) is very generous and rarely encountered. It would appear contradictory to be offered one year of free upgrades but only 90 days of technical support; what am I missing here? I find it very bad and shortsighted policy to provide only the latest-level system installation files in the Website download-area, and to remove older release-versions, thereby forcing users to preserve their private copies. In fact, the system install files MUST be upward compatible for bug fixes to be of benefit to and applied by the user. I have never seen such a practice suggested by any other software developer. The link “…winablity.com” appears misspelled 3 times on p2. of the ReadMe.txt

Will you continue to use it?

Reviewer 1: Yes, I will continue to use it and recommend it to those who have a need for this type of program.

Reviewer 2: If I was in an environment where I needed this type of security I would definitely consider using it and I recommend this for the home business.

Reviewer 3: Yes.

Reviewer 4: Yes.

Reviewer 5: No, but only because I share my computer with no one. Otherwise, I would definitely use this program.

Reviewer 6: Yes indeed, with great pleasure.

Reviewer 7: Very doubtful, which I regret, since Folder Guard is such a well-designed and developed program. I simply don’t have, nor have ever had, the need for such protection, nor do any of my clients. However, given the need, I’d certainly be delighted to have or to recommend this program. Its developers have done an outstanding job designing and producing it, I strongly suspect for a specific customer/installation/need, and are now trying to market it to a general audience.

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