Dropbox is a great service, but its security track record is nothing to be proud of. We’ve previously written about encrypted alternatives to Dropbox, but let’s be honest – Dropbox stands out among cloud storage services for its zen simplicity. Much as we’d like encryption, it’s hard to give up Dropbox. BoxCryptor is an encryption solution for anyone who wants encryption but just can’t let Dropbox go.
BoxCryptor runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, so you can access your encrypted data from almost anywhere. You can even use BoxCryptor with other cloud storage services, like Microsoft’s SkyDrive. It’s like encrypting the files yourself, but automatic.
You can download the free version of BoxCryptor from BoxCryptor’s website.
BoxCryptor’s free version supports up to 2 GB of files, enough for the 2 GB of storage Dropbox users start with. If you’ve got more Dropbox space, you can’t encrypt every single file without spending money, but why bother? Just encrypt your important files and leave unimportant files unencrypted in the main Dropbox folder.
After installing BoxCryptor, you’ll be prompted to create a new encrypted folder.
Use the Browse button to specify a location for the encrypted files. If you’re using Dropbox’s default settings, point BoxCryptor at a directory inside the “C:\Users\[Name]\Dropbox” folder.
BoxCryptor creates a new, virtual drive that exposes your encrypted files in unencrypted format. BoxCryptor uses drive Z: by default, but the drive letter is customizable.
Creating a password is the most important part of setting up BoxCryptor. BoxCryptor encrypts your files with the password you provide here. BoxCryptor recommends you write this password down and store it in a secure location. If you forget this password, you won’t be able to access your encrypted files. You’ll lose them forever.
BoxCryptor also recommends creating a backup of its configuration file, which is stored in the BoxCryptor directory you specified. You’ll need this backup if the main configuration file is deleted. If you don’t have it, you’ll lose your data forever.
Once you’ve got BoxCryptor set up, using it is simple. You’ll find the BoxCryptor drive in your Computer window.
Copy sensitive files you want to encrypt and store in the cloud into your BoxCryptor drive.
BoxCryptor takes the files you add to the drive, encrypts them and places the encrypted versions in a folder inside your Dropbox folder.
Dropbox synchronizes the encrypted files normally — as far as Dropbox knows, there’s nothing special about these files.
Access your encrypted files on another computer by installing BoxCryptor and selecting the “Open an Existing Folder” option.
The free version of the mobile app has some limitations — for example, you can only read files and can’t go more than two directories deep — but it’s an easy way to access your encrypted Dropbox files on the go.
BoxCryptor’s mobile app is self-contained; it doesn’t require Dropbox installed on your device. Install BoxCryptor and you’ll be prompted to log into your Dropbox account.
Once you have, select your encrypted BoxCryptor folder and BoxCryptor will ask you for the password you provided.
Enter the password and you’ll see the decrypted versions of your encrypted files. If you installed the Dropbox mobile app instead, you’d just see the scrambled, encrypted versions.
That’s it. BoxCryptor, like Dropbox, embraces simplicity and doesn’t have an interface with lots of options. It’s the perfect counterpart to Dropbox. If you’re a Linux user, you can also use EncFS to encrypt your Dropbox files. EncFS doesn’t have a 2 GB limit, but BoxCryptor is more user-friendly.
How do you store secure data in the cloud? Do you use a Dropbox competitor? Or do you think we’re all crazy for storing important data on someone else’s servers? Let us know in the comments.
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