If you carry a flash drive around with you at times, you may have added means to it to protect data in case it gets lost or stolen. Encryption programs like True Crypt can be used for that purpose, but that requires at least a basic understanding of how to set up an encrypted container. Depending on the software, it may also require an installed copy of it on the system the flash drive is connected to.
Granite Portable is a free alternative that you can use to create a secure file vault on flash drives and also any other device that comes to mind. While explicitly created with flash drives in mind, it can also be used on other devices provided that they use the NTFS file system.
So what is Granite Portable? It is a file launcher first and foremost that you can run from any location due to its portable nature.
Requirements: The Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5, Windows XP or newer operating system, and devices that use the NTFS file system.
All you have to do is extract the downloaded file to a location of your choosing and run it afterwards. You are asked to set an admin password on first start. The login is used to protect the data that is in the vault.
The launcher is displayed afterwards. It lists a selection of pre-configured links that you can launch right from it. You can move any file or program into the vault, where it is accessible for as long as the launcher is running.
It is naturally also possible to add programs to the launcher's program directory, so that you can start them using the launcher. Just create new folders under Programs here and add your files, programs or bookmarks to it so that you can run them from the launcher's interface.
These programs are not protected in any way though, and can be accessed if the launcher application is not running.
When you exit Granite Portable, the vault becomes inaccessible on the system. While I cannot say for sure how the protection is done, the author admits that anyone with enough knowledge and time could gain access to the files stored in the vault.
This means that you are better of using True Crypt or other disk encryption software if you need to protect important files.
The core benefit of Granite Portable is the program's ease of use. All you have to do is unpack it, move it to the device that you want to use it on, set a password, and add files and programs to its directory structure. While it is not putting your files in Fort Knox, it makes sure that most computer users won't be able to access the files stored in its vault.