I’ve recently moved most of my files on Dropbox into an encrypted folder, thanks to encfs4win (for my Windows computers) and Encdroid (to access them on my phone). Here is a guide I’ve put together with how to do the same with some best practices.
Below is a screenshot of one of my actual Dropbox folders, encrypted vs decrypted:
- on-the-fly encryption of your files (e.g. drag and drop to automatically encrypt them)
- complete encryption – filenames and file contents are both encrypted
- cross-platform (Encdroid for Android, encfs4win for Windows, encfs for Linux, etc)
- fast decryption times (if Paranoia Mode is enabled, it’s normal on encfs(4win) but slower on Encdroid)
- less convenience – having to decrypt the files before being able to access them
- A cloud-based service already set-up (e.g. Dropbox, SugarSync, etc). This guide will focus on Dropbox.
- encfs4win (http://members.ferrara.linux.it/freddy77/encfs.html)
- Dokan version 0.6 (has to be version 0.6: http://dokan-dev.net/en/download/)
- Install Dokan – pretty straight-forward, there are no settings you will have to change.
- Download encfs4win and extract the 5 files anywhere on your computer (e.g. your C:\ drive)
- Double-click on encfsw.exe
- A key icon will appear in your system tray
- Left-click on it to show the menu
- Click on Preferences
- I would recommend ticking “Launch at startup” so that encfs4win starts automatically when you startup your machine
- Click OK, then click on the key icon again (in step #4), and then click on “Open/Create“
- Navigate to your Dropbox folder, click on it
- Click on “Make New Folder” and type in a name for your encrypted folder
- Click OK, and then you will see the below screen:
- Select a drive that will be created when you “mount” your encrypted folder where you can drag-drop files into
- Tick “Set paranoia mode (more secure)“. If you use Encdroid (an Android app to access encrypted folders), I find having this ticked drastically increases the decryption time, so tick at your own caution. If you only use encfs4win, I find that ticking this option has little impact on the decryption time.
- Type in a secure password. By secure, I mean something like $3cu|2ep4ssw0rd (something at least 16 characters, with a mix of alphanumeric + symbols)
- Click “OK“
- A password prompt will appear, type in the password you set in step #14
- A Windows Explorer window will open with a blank folder
- You can start to cut + paste Dropbox files into this folder to secure them
- To mount/decrypt your encrypted folder, click on the key icon (in step #4), and click on “Mount _____ (x)”
- When you mount/decrypt your encrypted folder, the drive letter you selected in step #12 will appear in your “My Computer” or Windows Explorer listing with a “DOKAN” name (in this example, my Y drive):
- Below is an example of me creating a “Hello.txt” file in the Y:\ drive, and below is how it appears in Dropbox as an encrypted file