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A Safer Way to Store Files Online

by Suzanne Kantra on August 28, 2012

computer key with lock symbolI’m a big fan of cloud sync storage services and regularly use Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive to store and share files. To keep my information safe, these services encrypt my files while they’re in transit from my computer to their servers, but many store these files unencrypted; so if hackers were to break in or get a hold of my password, they could read my information. And even those that use encryption on their servers can be compromised by a bad actor at the company who has access to the encryption keys.

Frankly, most of my files wouldn’t be of interest to hackers, but there are a few files I need to keep locked down–tax returns, business documents, etc. For these, I use software that encrypts the files on my computer before they’re sent to my cloud sync service.

There are a number of good, free options, including TrueCrypt, SecretSync and BoxCryptor. I've been using BoxCryptor because it supports Windows, Mac, Android and iOS and works with Dropbox, as well as Google Drive and SkyDrive. And like the other encryption solutions, it’s easy to use.

Here’s how it works. You install the software on your computer and it creates two folders or drives. There’s one folder or drive where you save the files you want to encrypt, and where you can also work on them. In the case of BoxCryptor, the software creates a virtual drive which contains the that looks like another hard drive on your computer.

Any time I save a file into the virtual drive a copy is placed in the second folder, which sits in my Dropbox folder. It’s those files that sync to Dropbox.

BoxCryptor runs in the background, automatically decrypting and encrypting files stored in the virtual drive and making sure the latest copy is in the Dropbox folder.

When I want to access files, I open them from the virtual drive or through the BoxCryptor app on my Android or iOS device.

There's one critical thing you need to fully understand before you start using encryption software like BoxCryptor. You will lose all of your files if you forget your password and log out of all of your devices and computers. So pick that password carefully!


Computers and Software, Computer Safety & Support, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Tips & How-Tos, Tech 101

Discussion loading

FaceBook links

From Gail Randolph on August 28, 2012 :: 12:41 pm

I would like to be able to share your articles on our FB page. but you do not have any FB link buttons.
Is there a reason? or will you be adding them?


Hi Gail,We would love for

From Josh Kirschner on August 28, 2012 :: 12:50 pm

Hi Gail,

We would love for you to share our articles! You should see a Facebook icon at the top (next to the title) and bottom of every article. You can also just copy the url link and paste that into your Facebook status - Facebook will automatically pull in the related article information.


Is there a safe way to *Share* files?

From Rich on August 28, 2012 :: 2:41 pm

Aside from allowing you to share files safely with yourself on a mobile device, do any of the encryption tools allow you to share files safely with other people?



You can use an encryption

From Suzanne Kantra on August 29, 2012 :: 12:20 am

You can use an encryption utility like Encrypt/Decrypt File utility to encrypt a file with a password. You’d then save the encrypted file on Dropbox and share the encrypted file with others. The people you share your file with would decrypt the file using the Encrypt/Decrypt File utility and the password you used to encrypt the file.

The utility defaults to saving decrypted file in the same folder as the encrypted file. So you’d want to make sure to tell people to change the destination to a folder outside of Dropbox.


Encryption both ways generally, or laptops/desktops only?

From Jeffrey Deutsch on August 29, 2012 :: 1:41 pm


You mentioned that Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive encrypt your files en route from your computer to their systems.

Do they also encrypt them going back to you, and if so do they also encrypt your files from and to your smartphones and tablets, or does it only work with your laptops and desktops?

On another note, BoxCryptor is only free for non-commercial use. (For that matter, the same holds for Box.)

Thank you!

Jeff Deutsch


Both ways

From Suzanne Kantra on September 28, 2012 :: 12:55 am

Yes, the encryption works both ways. It will technically work on any device that supports an https connection, but you should verify with your service that https is supported for mobile devices.


WinRAR encryption

From Bob on September 28, 2012 :: 12:17 am

How about using an encryption utility like the one in WinRAR. For example, I wanted to be able to access my password file, which I encrypted in a WinRAR archive, when I use other computers. So I sent it to Dropbox.
Now don’t tell me this is not a good way to encrypt my password file, please!


It's fine

From Suzanne Kantra on September 28, 2012 :: 12:59 am

WinRAR 3.0 and above uses AES 128 bit encryption, which is very strong. However, WinRAR archives can be broken by a brute force attack on the archive password, so be sure to pick a strong one and you’ll be fine.


Are My Stored Files Really Safe in Cloud?

From Anshdeep Verma on January 09, 2013 :: 6:03 am

Thanks for sharing great article..

Are My Stored Files Really Safe in Cloud?
Find on—


Good Job

From Alexander Innes on June 19, 2013 :: 12:50 pm

Never figured I would enjoy someones blog so much, but I look forward to you mail every day.
Really good lunchtime reading!
Keep it up!!!!!



From Josh Kirschner on June 20, 2013 :: 9:31 am

We’re glad you’re enjoying the newsletter and we always appreciate feedback.



Secured File Encryption?

From Celineism on April 03, 2019 :: 10:43 pm

This is a very useful blog, But other than softwares mentioned above, I believe that there are available online software in the market that can also encrypt your file for safekeeping, sometimes file encryption is not enough to protect your files to hackers. Technically speaking hackers does not really look through one file, but they go beyond it. That is why I prefer Internet security software that also offers file encryption if in any case he can break through my firewall. But either way a free software like boxcryptor could also work for you if you solely want to protect your files.I just opted in for more security on my activities and files.


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