By PC Magic
Before installing, EMF briefly described what the program does: protected folders and the files inside cannot be read, run, deleted, copied, or even seen.
EMF then prompted me for an administrative password. (Once the administrative account is set up, it is the only account that can uninstall the program and/or create new accounts.) First, EMF asked me to set up a hotkey, or a keyboard shortcut that switches between visible and hidden folders. Many computer users avoid keyboard shortcuts, but if you find yourself doing a task several times a day, striking a few keys may be more convenient than clicking through several menus. The default hotkey is CTRL-ALT-A, but you can change it.
After setting up the hotkey, EMF gave me an emergency recovery password, which is a long series of numbers formatted like a credit card number. You can use the emergency password if you lose your designated password or the password data is corrupted. The emergency password enables you to access your protected files and/or uninstall the program.
EMF's basic features were very easy to use. You see a list of your unprotected folders in a tree hierarchy in one pane, and your list of protected folders in another. You drag folders from the tree hierarchy pane to the protected folders pane to add them to the "protected" list, and drag them out of the protected folders pane to remove them from the list. When you're done choosing folders to protect, you can either "Exit with Magic Folders Visible" or "Exit with Magic Folders Invisible."
If you exit with Magic Folders Visible, you are still logged in to EMF. You can still see your protected folders and the files in them. If you want to access a file in a protected folder, EMF will automatically decrypt the file. If you save a file to a protected folder, EMF will automatically encrypt it. You can treat your protected folders as if they weren't encrypted. You can easily make the protected folder invisible by clicking a button that EMF puts on your taskbar, but I found that irritating as I often hit the taskbar button by accident. You can disable the taskbar button and use other means, like the EMF menu or a hotkey.
If you exit with Magic Folders Invisible, all protected folders are invisible and their contents remain encrypted.
I ran some quick checks to see if mildly computer-savvy users could bypass EMF's folder-hiding system. Encrypted files were still invisible after I told Windows to show hidden files. I restarted the computer to make sure EMF was no longer running even in the background, but the folders remained invisible until I opened the EMF program and logged in. EMF had passed the test: I couldn't find the folders until I had logged into EMF.
Also, the EMF interface deviates from the normal Windows user interface standards. If you're used to the Windows interface, it's a little confusing. For example, clicking a taskbar item usually brings up a window that was minimized or obscured by other windows. In contrast, clicking the EMF icon in the taskbar hides folders. In the typical Windows interface, this function would require you to double-click a system tray icon or select the item from a menu. In addition to confusion, the atypical interface can lead to frustration because taskbar items take up a good portion of screen real estate and are easy to click by accident. I was very glad EMF included hotkeys for making folders visible, because otherwise I would have had to launch the program several times a day to undo folders hidden by accidental keystrokes. Another difference is that EMF doesn't make an entry into your Add/Remove Programs list. In order to uninstall the program, you must log in to EMF with the administrative password and select Uninstall from the Configure menu. In this one case, I applaud the oddity because it ensures that only you may uninstall the program.
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