Below are answers to some of the most-frequently-asked questions regarding SafeHouse Explorer.
Absolutely. When you open a volume with SafeHouse Explorer's performance enhancements installed, a Windows drive letter is temporarily assigned to the volume. You'll see this new drive show up under My Computer along with all of your other drives. The primary advantage to having volumes being accessible through drive letters is that you can then easily read and write directly to volumes from nearly any standard Windows application.
Yes. SafeHouse volumes are normal files and can be backed up using either Explorer or any standard backup software. SafeHouse volumes are ordinary Windows files. Please be sure to close volumes before attempting to back them up.
Secure Delete is a feature included with SafeHouse Explorer which makes it easy for you to completely and truly delete files. When you delete files the "normal" way in Windows, the data from those files still exists somewhere on your hard drive. This can be very helpful when you've deleted something by mistake and need to recover it from your recycle bin; however, it also makes it easy for intruders to view the contents of these files which you may have thought were long-since deleted.
The Secure Delete feature works by overwriting files about to be deleted with random data patterns. This process completely destroys any wipes clean anything these files may have previously contained. Nobody, including law enforcement or the most-determined hackers, will be able to recover the contents of these files. Of course, this also means that if you securely delete files by mistake, that they will be forever gone and unrecoverable by even the most-sophisticated file recovery tools available.
The Secure Delete feature only works from within SafeHouse Explorer. Files you delete normally using Windows Explorer are not wiped clean as they would be when using SafeHouse Explorer. See How to Securely Delete Files.
Different manufacturers take different approaches to encryption and data privacy. Like any other kind of lock in the world, each approach has its pros and cons, conveniences and inconveniences. SafeHouse Explorer uses an approach known as virtual disk or volume encryption. This is a very safe technology, however, there are some things you may want to be aware of just to be clear on what protection is provided, and what is not.
Things to know:
Windows keeps what is known as a "swap file" to help move data in and out of memory as it needs to make room for running multiple programs at the same time. This swap file is typically saved to drive C: and is frequently 1 to 2GB in size. SafeHouse does not protect the contents of this temporary Windows file. It is possible that if you were working on a sensitive document and Windows wrote some of the memory containing your confidential text to the swap file, fragments of your document could be found in the swap file for a very short period of time. Most security products do not encrypt the swap file since to do so would significantly slow down Window's performance. It would take a very skilled and determined intruder to extract any information from this file, and then, only very small bits here and there might be there.
SafeHouse cannot protect you from keyboard sniffers.
When a volume is open, all access to the volume is controlled by Windows, not SafeHouse. Therefore, a rogue program or virus could attempt to inspect or delete files within the SafeHouse drive letter - just as it might for your primary C: drive. Closed volumes are immune to such attacks. If you are surfing the Internet and are worried about some browser vulnerability allowing access to your disk files, you are advised to close your SafeHouse volumes before visiting unsafe websites.
It's important to know that the items mentioned above are common to the technology used by SafeHouse Explorer and not specific programming flaws within the software. SafeHouse Explorer is a very safe and secure product which has withstood the test of time.
Generally speaking, lost SafeHouse Explorer passwords cannot be recovered unless you are using a special copy of the software which is being used in combination with SafeHouse Professional Edition. And even then, password management must be enabled in advance of creating your volumes.
SafeHouse Professional Edition is one of our commercial products which includes a full suite of administrator tools specifically designed for helping with password management and resetting lost passwords. We recognize that this is an important requirement for many business environments, and if this is a feature you need, we strongly encourage you to consider upgrading to SafeHouse Professional Edition.
Yes, SafeHouse volumes can be attached to emails and sent to friends and business associates. When volumes are closed, they are just ordinary Windows files and can be manipulated just as you would expect for any other ordinary file. Of course, the receiving party will need to know the volume's password and use a compatible SafeHouse product to access its contents. Since SafeHouse Explorer is freely-distributable, you may wish to include a link to its download page at SafeHouseSoftware.com in your email. See Sending Secure Email Attachments.
SafeHouse Explorer was created as a free alternative to our commercial SafeHouse products. Our commercial products offer a bit more flexibility and ease when working with protected files; however, we recognized that not everyone needed this level of flexibility and we thought that a great number of people could benefit from our SafeHouse technology if we found a way offer the public free access to a companion product having a reduced feature set. Please see our feature comparison chart for a complete list of features and differences between our products.
SafeHouse Explorer is a self-contained security solution which will never expire and does not contain any artificial restrictions on the size or count of files which can be protected. This is not trial software. You will never be denied access to your own files.
Although SafeHouse Explorer may not contain every single feature contained in our commercial products, it does, however, contain everything you need to protect and store confidential files using simple drag and drop techniques. In fact, for home or personal use, this may be the only security software you ever need. Of course, we certainly encourage you to take a look at some of the additional features offered in our commercial products, as it is our hope that you will find them important enough to consider stepping up to either our SafeHouse Personal or SafeHouse Professional Editions.
Yes, SafeHouse Explorer is specifically designed to work well on public PCs which are typically locked down with tight security controls. It is important to understand that administrators frequently forbid users from installing third-party software on publicly-accessible PCs; however, SafeHouse Explorer can be run as a stand-alone EXE file directly from USB Flash drives or other portable media without needing to be installed onto PCs in the customary sense. This means that although it's still possible for administrators to prevent this level of program execution, more often than not, you will find that it works just fine.
Yes, but only when used in combination with one of our other SafeHouse products which includes smartcard support. SafeHouse Explorer is able to automatically take advantage of the smartcard support built into some of our other products.
Attempting to use SafeHouse Explorer to protect your live Microsoft Outlook PST files might be problematic because Outlook stores the location of your PST files and expects to find them in the same place each time. SafeHouse Explorer uses temporary Windows drive letters that are not guaranteed to be the same each time you run the software. Our SafeHouse Professional Edition supports sticky drive letters which very nicely addresses this issue and works well with Microsoft Outlook.
Attempting to use SafeHouse Explorer to protect your live QuickBooks files might be problematic because QuickBooks expects to find your accounting files in the same place each time. SafeHouse Explorer uses temporary Windows drive letters that are not guaranteed to be the same each time you run the software. Our SafeHouse Professional Edition supports sticky drive letters which very nicely addresses this issue and works well with QuickBooks. On the other hand, SafeHouse Explorer is perfect for keeping secure backups of your QuickBooks data files.
Yes, SafeHouse Explorer can be run just by placing a copy of SafeHouseExplorer.exe onto an external drive or memory stick, and then running it directly from there. This is the main executable file. No other files are needed. This file can usually be found in the c:\Program Files\SafeHouse Explorer folder if you've performed a standard install of the software. More information.
Our License Agreement details a variety of common circumstances in which this software may be distributed without requiring a special license from PC Dynamics. Under those provisions, you may generally distribute up to 500 copies of the software without any paperwork as long as you do not charge any fee for doing so. Please refer to the license agreement for the specific terms and conditions for distributing SafeHouse Explorer.