We have previously written about creating and using a portable version of the free, open source encryption tool, TrueCrypt. This allows you to create encrypted file stores so you can securely carry around your data on USB flash drives.
However, to use the portable version of TrueCrypt, you must have administrator privileges on the computer on which you are running TrueCrypt. There is another program, called SafeHouse Explorer, that allows you to take your files with you in an encrypted file store without requiring administrator privileges to run. SafeHouse Explorer is not open source, but it is free.
Download SafeHouse Explorer from
NOTE: The full SafeHouse Explorer program is downloaded during installation. Make sure you have an internet connection before you start installing SafeHouse Explorer.
Install SafeHouse Explorer
SafeHouse Explorer can be used as a portable program, but it needs to be installed first. To install it, double-click on the .exe file you downloaded.
If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.
NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings. See our post, Windows 7 – How to configure UAC (User Account Control), for more information.
The SafeHouse Setup wizard displays. Click Next to continue.
On the License Agreement screen, select the I accept this license agreement check box and click Next.
The Ready to Install screen displays. Click Next to begin the installation.
The progress of the installation displays on the SafeHouse Setup window.
When the installation is finished, a message displays below the progress bar. Click Finish.
If you want to run SafeHouse Explorer immediately after you close the SafeHouse Setup window, select the Run SafeHouse Explorer on exit check box before clicking Close to close the window.
Run SafeHouse Explorer
The first time you run SafeHouse Explorer, the Quick Start wizard displays. Click Next on the Welcome screen.
For more information about SafeHouse Explorer, read through the Learn More screen. Click Next when you are ready to continue.
Performance enhancements allow SafeHouse Explorer to work better with other applications. Administrator rights are required to install these enhancements. Installing SafeHouse Explorer from your computer, using its traditional setup utility, requires administrator rights, so the enhancements are installed automatically. However, when you run SafeHouse Explorer from a USB flash drive on a computer that does not have SafeHouse installed, you can choose to install the performance enhancements by clicking the Install Performance Options button, as long as you have administrator rights. If the performance enhancements are already installed, the button is not active. Click Next to continue.
Create Your First SafeHouse Volume
If you want to create a SafeHouse volume, or storage vault, now, click Create Storage Vault. You don’t have to at this time, but our instructions continue to show you how to create a volume.
The Create New Volume wizard displays. Click Next on the introductory screen.
On the Name of Private Storage Area screen, click the Browse (folder) button to the right of the Folder edit box to select a location for the SafeHouse volume.
On the Browse For Folder dialog box, navigate to the desired location, select the folder, and click OK.
Back on the Name of the Private Storage Area screen, enter a name for your SafeHouse volume in the Filename edit box. The .sdsk extension is automatically added to your filename. If desired, enter a Description for the volume. Click Next.
The Size of your Private Storage Area screen displays. Enter the size for your volume in the Volume Size edit box and select whether the size is in Kilobytes, Megabytes, or Gigabytes from the drop-down list. The maximum size for SafeHouse volumes is 2,000 gigabytes. The amount of space available on your hard drive displays in the Space Available box.
NOTE: Older Windows operating systems (Windows 95/98/Me) and hard drives formatted using the FAT file system (rather than NTFS) do not support file sizes greater than 4GB.
If you have SafeHouse Personal Edition or Professional Edition also installed on your computer, you have the option to be able to expand your volume in the future as you add more files. To do this, select a size range for your volume from the Resizable drop-down list. The drop-down list only includes size ranges that are valid on your system.
NOTE: This feature is standard in the Personal Edition and Professional Edition. SafeHouse Explorer simply launches the resizing wizard from either of these products.
For extra security, select the Preinitialize volume with random data check box. This fills the volume with random data to make if difficult for someone to separate your read data from the random data if they happen to get into your volume. Depending on the size of your volume, this process may take a few minutes. We recommend turning on this option, unless you really don’t have the time to wait.
The Choose a Volume Password screen displays. Choose a secure password and enter it in the Password edit box and then again in the Retype edit box. The following articles provide some tips for creating good, secure passwords:
- Using Password Phrases For Better Security
- 10 Ways to Generate a Random Password from the Command Line
Also, check out the really useful password tools on the Gibson Research Corporation website (www.grc.com), run by Steve Gibson, security guru and privacy expert.
Steve also publishes a podcast called Security Now (http://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm) with Leo Laporte from TWiT TV (www.twit.tv), where they talk about important issues of personal computer security.
Click Next to continue.
The Ready to Create Volume screen displays that shows a summary of the volume specifications you chose. If you want to create a shortcut on the desktop that provides quick access to the volume, select the Create a desktop shortcut to open this volume check box. Click Create Volume.
The volume creation progress displays. The approximate time remaining displays below the progress bar.
When message displays indicating the volume has been successfully created, click Finish to close the Create New Volume wizard.
You are returned to the Create Your First Storage Vault screen on the Quick Start wizard. Click Next to continue.
The Finished screen displays. There’s a link allowing you to upgrade to a full version SafeHouse at a discount. Selecting the Show me these ten essential tips check box opens a web page where you can sign up to receive the tips, a coupon to save 40% on the Professional version, and the SafeHouse Newsletter. Click Finish to close the Quick Start wizard.
If you chose to create a new SafeHouse volume when first running SafeHouse Explorer, the SafeHouse Explorer program now displays with the newly created volume opened.
If you have SafeHouse Personal Edition or Professional Edition also installed on your computer, your volume displays in Windows Explorer as a drive with a drive letter. If you are only running SafeHouse Explorer, you must copy files into and out of the volume using the SafeHouse Explorer window shown above.
NOTE: If you copy a file out of your volume to the hard drive, you can securely delete the file when you are done working with it and have copied it back into the volume. We will discuss the Secure Delete feature in SafeHouse Explorer later in this article.
This was the first part of a two-part article about using SafeHouse Explorer to securely store and transport your important, private files.
In this part, we covered installing and running SafeHouse Explorer and creating your first SafeHouse volume.
The second part of this article will cover creating a portable version of SafeHouse Explorer you can carry around with you on a USB flash drive, opening a volume, adding files and folders to a volume, opening files stored in a volume, closing a volume, securely deleting files copied from a volume to a local hard disk, and creating a self-extracting volume. Stay tuned!