It is quite a usual practice to store confidential data on personal computers. And when it comes to data protection, Mac OS X offers an in-house option called FileVault that fully encrypts the startup disk to prevent unauthorized access to your data. FileVault decrypts the disk every time you log in to the system.
But as it turns out in most cases, your Mac is often accessed by friends, family or sometimes even your colleagues. In such cases, you usually end up unlocking your Mac for them to use. And the confidential data may be accidentally exposed or sometimes, even be deleted.
One of the other options for securing data on OS X is to create a password protected virtual disk image, and putting your confidential data within the virtual disk. But this method has a few disadvantages:
- Once the password protected disk image is created, you have to manually move your confidential files into it.
- Even after moving your files into the encrypted disk image, they are still recoverable from their original location with suitable file recovery software.
- The encrypted disk image has a definite size limit. If the data you keep within it exceeds that limit, you have to manually extend the size of your disk image using Disk Utility.
To overcome these challenges, you can use a third party alternative called Hider 2.
Hider – Lock and Hide data on OS X
Hider is a useful Mac app that can protect your confidential data within an encrypted vault. It works similar to the native virtual disk solution, but automatically takes care of the above mentioned challenges. During the initial setup process, Hider asks you for the master password. It then creates an encrypted vault on your Mac, which can only be unlocked using the master password.
Once unlocked, you can drag and drop files and folders into the app window to add them to Hider’s file list, from where you can toggle their visibility. When you turn off the visibility for a particular file or folder, Hider moves it from the original location to the encrypted vault. At the same time, it shreds the item from its original location to make it unrecoverable with file recovery apps.
When you turn the visibility back on, Hider moves the file out of the vault and places it in its original location. Hider’s vault does not have any space limitations, so you can add unlimited files into Hider’s vault (up to your Mac’s storage capacity, of course).
Hider uses AES-256 encryption to secure files and folders with a password. You can also lock and hide files and folders stored on external hard drives using Hider. In that case, Hider creates its encrypted vault on the external drive.
Other than protecting files and folders, some of the other features offered by Hider include custom grouping of items added to Hider, so you can easily track and access them from a single location; compatibility with Finder tags, so you can add tagged files to Hider and keep them organized; create secure notes within Hider to quickly jot down important details, and more. Hider can also be accessed from the Mac menu bar.
Hider is available as a free trial, but the full version can be purchased for $19.99 (Single License), $29.99 (License for 2 Macs) or $44.99 (License for 5 Macs) from the official MacPaw Store. You may refer to the app’s FAQ section if you need more information on the product.
Hider is an ideal software for securely hiding files and folders on Mac. But what if you want to securely send a file to someone else over the Internet. You have to ensure that anyone third person who intercepts the file that you want to send, cannot read its contents. This is where Encrypto proves to be useful. It is a small app which allows you to encrypt a file with a password before sharing it with anyone.
To encrypt a file or folder using Encrypto, simply drag and drop the item into the application window and provide a password. Once the file is encrypted, you can share it via Mail, Messages, AirDrop, etc. You can also save the encrypted copy of the file on your Mac. The encrypted file is similar to a password protected archive, where you need to provide a password every time you wish to open the file. Encrypto also provides the option to add the file to Hider if you wish to keep it hidden.
Encrypto is available as a free download from the Mac App Store.
Note: In our tests, we didn’t come across any issues with either Hider or Encrypto. However, a lot of users on the Internet have complained about losing their data while protecting them. We have reached out to MacPaw (the company behind Hider 2 and Encrypto apps) regarding this issue, and they have assured that the current version of these apps are “debugged and polished”. But for the sake of security, it is always recommended to keep backup copies of your important data in different locations.
Hider and Encrypto work together on your Mac to help keep your data safe and secured. But if you know of a better alternative solution to lock and protect files and folders on Mac with password, do let us know in the comments below.