M File Anti-Copy

Regardless of what you do, you can never protect your computer sufficiently, as there is always a hole left unattended, which can be the way to your data. This scenario is maybe too pessimistic, but it is real. Fortunately, it does not apply to the everyday user and targets systems storing more than personal images, music and video.

However, for data leaks to be complete, they have to be copied or moved to some other drive or disk and if you can somehow prevent this from happening, your files should be a tad more secure. M File Anti-Copy has recently reached version 4.0 and even if, at core, its purpose remains the same, this version brings an improved interface to the table with plenty more options than the previously reviewed version.

Installing the software is a walk in the park as the only settings present refer to working language, placing an application shortcut on the desktop for easy access or in the Quick Launch area of your taskbar. The entire process ends with a screen that permits you to launch the program. At the first launch of M File Anti-Copy, you are required to secure its activation/deactivation and uninstall with a password and provide a password hint. Only after this has been done you get access to the main application window.

Still free, M File Anti-Copy makes available a simple to use interface that does not require instructions on how to use the application. Main application window lets you enable the copy protection, as well as the protection against renaming or deleting files. Also, while the program is active, you are allowed to copy and move files via the built-in file-copier. Against deletion and renaming of the file there is a different section in the application window. For accessing any of these areas while the software is active and even deactivated, you will have to unlock them first using the password given at the first launch.

It all sounds good in theory, but M File Anti-Copy has a “deadly” flaw that permits copying the files from one window of Explorer to another by simply dragging and dropping the files. There is no restriction for this action and all its security is overridden. If you're using a different file manager than the one provided in Windows, all of M File Anti-Copy protection is blown away.

However, the application does refrain copy action if the keyboard command is used or if you choose the classic method of selecting the option from the context menu of the file. In this case, upon pasting it, the “Paste” option will be grayed out. This is because the restriction of the program affects Windows Clipboard and not the file itself. You will also notice that Windows Clipboard is not working in any other program while M File Anti-Copy is active, which creates a great discomfort to the user.

Additional restrictions sparked by the application include the inability to call Windows Task Manager, working with Command Prompt or initializing the Registry Editor. All three are blocked by M File Anti-Copy default settings, but you can correct the shortcoming easily by accessing the Options panel's Lock tab. Here, you can also disable the display of folder options, Search and Run boxes.

Further configuration is available under Security tab, which shelters a set of actions to take effect if the password is typed in incorrectly for four times in a row: exit the program, log off or turn off the computer. There is also the possibility to hide application's process in Task Manager (during our testing under Vista, it was visible at all times).

Common tab of the Options menu provides general customization of the software such as showing the splash screen on startup, minimize it to system tray, launching it with Windows or showing the icon in Control Panel, System Tray or Context menu. The last setting failed to make its presence visible during tests.

If M File Anti-Copy failed to bring home the bacon with regards to file copying as it locked only the access to Windows Clipboard giving the cyber-perp free hand by dragging and dropping the files from one window of Windows Explorer to another, when it comes to preventing files from being deleted or renamed, the app does a wonderful job. It actually locks the file to the system and does not allow any alteration of its state. This type of security is not pervasive for all the files of the computer and you have to append the data you wish to be protected.

M File Anti-Copy has gotten a lot of options since the last version we reviewed but it still misses on security against file copying as the simple drag and drop overthrows all of its anti-copy measures. Because it restricts access to Windows Clipboard, the software is not built to do your work while active. It ensures protection even if you turn it off, which makes it great, but the drag and drop workaround spoils it all.

The Good

M File Anti-Copy has greatly enriched its list of options and the developer even slipped in an Options menu, which allows you to prohibit the use of certain applets in Windows.

The application does a wonderful job at protecting files against delete and rename actions by locking them up. All areas in the software require the initial password set by the user at the first launch of the app.

Its protection continues to hold even if you decide to terminate the process and only typing in the correct password allows you to change the settings.

The Bad

One of the simplest actions overrides M File Anti-Copy's protection and that is drag and drop. The application actually puts a lock on the Clipboard and nothing can get in there. Also, the context menu icon does not appear and, in our case, the Task Manager process was still present after disabling the option.

The Truth

M File Anti-Copy is a pretty good piece of software, but it does not cover all the angles, as a simple drag and drop overpasses all copy protection.

Preventing the files from being deleted or renamed works fine but there is a workaround for this one, too. If you try unlocking the files, all security enabled by M File Anti-Copy becomes futile.

However, should the drag and drop issue be fixed, the application would make for a cool freebie to protect your data against copying, deleting and renaming.

p/s: if you find this software is useful to you, be please to leave a comment & it's free.


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