The Good: Simple & straightforward allowing users with any expertise level to securely encrypt their data.
The Bad: Given it’s dependent on write speeds, it can be painfully slow encrypting large files and folders.
The Bottom Line: Hider 2 is a great app that removes the friction most users may experience when trying to keep their data safe. While it could be better, it’s undoubtedly a great start.[hr]
I consider myself a security conscious user and working in IT means I often need safeguards in place to protect sensitive data, whether it be mine or a client’s.
Therefore, when MacPaw released version 2 of Hider 2 — a Mac app that reduces the complexities of hiding and encrypting data on your Mac — I was keen to put it through it’s paces and see how it performed.
How Does It Work?
Upon first launch, Hider presents you with a small introduction of its features and then prompts you for your Vault Password. Make sure it’s secure and stored in a safe place, since this unlocks your vault and without it your hidden files and folders are essentially lost.
Once you’re setup, Hider will greet you with a simple, albeit pleasant looking window, with navigation along the left side and the main view-port on the right.
Hider upon first launch. Clean and minimal.
Dragging a file or folder into the view-port will encrypt and then hide it (also works with multiple files or folders). Alternatively, you can click the + and navigate to the file you’d like to secure. Hider can also create vaults on external drives. Simply drag a file from an external drive into Hider and it will create a new vault. Once a file is in your vault, toggling it’s visibility is as trivial as clicking a button.
To help keep your vault neatly organized, Hider natively supports Mavericks tags and also allows you to place secured files in custom groups. If that’s not enough, search works well too. Groups are also a great way of performing batch operations.
To perform a batch operation, choose a desired action from the drop-down menu in the bottom right corner. There you’ll find options to hide/unhide all or just selected as well as remove selected. Click the button to the left of the drop-down to toggle between Hide All or Unhide All.
Hider sports a menu bar helper that allows you hide or unhide files. It shows a list of the 5 most recent files or you can search for the desired file. Clicking on the file will toggle it’s visibility and you can also opt to open the file in finder once it’s unhidden.
Hider 2 saw the inclusion of secure notes. You can create rich text notes that remain safely encrypted within your local vault. Just like with files, it’s possible to organize notes into custom folders and also search by title and content.
While I liked the premise of secure notes, having them confined to the local vault with no means to easily export or share them (print, email, etc.) made secure notes a little less convenient.
Keep your top secret ideas securely stowed away.
When encrypting a file or folder, Hider is in fact rewriting it entirely. This means it’s heavily dependent on disk write speeds. Therefore, if you’re constantly hiding or unhiding files and performance is a decisive factor, Hider may not be ideal.
On my test machine (see how I make it sound like I have more than one), a mid-2013 MacBook Air (1.3GHz Core i5 with 8GB Ram and 256GB SSD drive) I performed a series of tests to determine just how much of an impact this could have.
The test file — a 5,3GB DMG — was encrypted five times and decrypted five times. Although decryption was slower in general, all times were avereged together. On my SSD drive it took on average 1 minute whereas on an external USB 2 drive, the same file took an average of 7 minutes, a rather significant increase.
Space to Improve
Hider 2 is a great app catering to an important need in this digital age: Security. That’s not to say though that it can’t be better.
I’d like to see a little more functionality added to the menu bar helper, namely:
- A shortcut to toggle it’s visibility;
- The ability to see and create secure notes;
- Most importantly, I should be able to hide a file just by dragging to the menu bar helper.
Eventually I’d like to see the inclusion of smart groups based on tags, file type etc. and the context menu associated with groups and tags needs a little work too. Currently you can Hide All in Group but there’s no option to Unhide All in Group.
Hider 2 — The Verdict
Hider 2 definitely lives up to the hype of reducing the friction many encounter when attempting to secure their data. Novice mac users will have no difficulty getting started while the more seasoned veterans will surely appreciate the inclusion of the menu bar helper to speeds things along.