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How to encrypt your cloud storage for free

Brad Chacos | Sept. 26, 2012
If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. That may sound like a trite cliche, but the maxim rings true when it comes to securing files that you've stored online: A handful of recent incidents--including breaches of Dropbox and iCloud--underscores the fact that even with built-in encryption and SSL transfers, cloud storage providers can't perfectly ensure the sanctity of your data.

Maintaining multiple encrypted drives for free

Anyone who purchases BoxCryptor Unlimited has the ability to run multiple BoxCryptor virtual drives simultaneously, but free users are limited to a single virtual drive. Does that mean you can encrypt or decrypt files at only a single cloud storage service or offline location? Not at all. It simply means that you can have only a single virtual drive operating at a given time. Basically, you can create several encrypted folders, but you can encrypt or decrypt files for only one at a time.

To create another encrypted folder in a second location, right-click on the BoxCryptor icon in your system tray and select Preferences. Next, enter Advanced Mode--ignoring the warning displayed by the program--and click on the icon for your encrypted virtual disk. The Remove option will turn red and become active; click on it. Poof! Your drive disappears from the list. Don't worry, the actual files (and their encryption key) weren't deleted.

Now, click on the New icon. The installation wizard will pop back up. This time, create another encrypted folder for a different cloud service or offline folder than you did originally. For example, I created an encrypted folder in my Dropbox account to complement the BoxCryptor folder I'd already created in my SkyDrive one. Finish up the creation process as you did before, creating a password and selecting a virtual drive designation. Advanced options will pop up during the process, but you don't have to worry about those unless you're curious about the software's niche uses. Bonus: You don't have to reboot the second (or third, or fourth, or...x) time you create a BoxCryptor folder.

When you're done, a BoxCryptor.bc folder appears in the new location, and a BoxCryptor virtual drive appears on your computer, just as before. Utilize this second encrypted folder the same way you did your first one, by adding and removing files via the virtual drive, not the BoxCryptor.bc folder itself.

But what if you need to access or add a file in the encrypted folder you created the first time around? That virtual drive--but not the folder itself--disappeared when you removed it from the BoxCryptor list to create your second encrypted folder. Fear not: It's easy to connect back to your previously created BoxCryptor folders.

First, Remove your current virtual drive in the Advanced Mode as you did before, but this time, click Add rather than New when you're done. You'll be asked to choose the location of a BoxCryptor folder; select your originally created BoxCryptor.bc destination. (In SkyDrive, in my case.) Next, choose a letter for the virtual drive you're creating, ignore the advanced options, and enter your password for the encrypted folder when prompted. Bam! A virtual drive connected to your original BoxCryptor folder appears on your computer, allowing you to encrypt and decrypt your files to your heart's content.

 

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