Safe in the house

Secure terabytes of data easily with this free tool.

SafeHouse Explorer creates secure, strongly encrypted volumes that can secure huge amounts of data on your main system, portable devices, and even USB drives and other storage media yet remain hidden until accessed with a password. It's portable freeware that can run without being installed, even from a USB drive or the Internet, giving you access to your protected files anywhere, including public computers. It may also be the easiest tool of its type we've tried.

SafeHouse Explorer is a slimmed-down but fully functional version of the developer's commercial products, and it shares the same technology for creating secure volumes with 256-bit encryption in your system. Individual volumes can be up to 2TB in size, and you can create as many volumes as you like, so storage size isn't a problem. The volumes are standard Windows files, too, and SafeHouse Explorer is intended to work like Explorer, with tree views, drag-and-drop, and familiar menus. In fact, it's easy to create a new volume just by examining the layout and clicking some buttons, but we think a much better idea is just to follow the program's setup wizard, which is one of the best we've seen. It walked us through the process of creating a new volume, setting up a password, securing our data, and retrieving it with clear explanations and frequent screenshots. In the time it took to finish the wizard, we'd created a large volume of secure, hidden storage space on our PC. Like hidden system files, our volume couldn't be uncovered or opened without entering our password. The program offers some interesting options, such as Tools menu items for creating self-extracting volumes, extracting volumes from executable files, and copying files to a memory stick.

Developer PC Dynamics suggests securing your USB drive before it's lost or stolen and you become the next YouTube sensation. We agree, and we'd add personal and financial records to the list; whatever you've got in Windows, SafeHouse Explorer can secure it.

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