ProtectData is a small “freeware” (Had I an alternative, I dare not to use the term) which presently does the following :
- Recovers data from a damaged floppy
- Hides data on a floppy using a custom (& inefficient) file system & of course, retrieves, displays & optionally saves them in the form of a file
- Hides the existing contents of a floppy
- Reads/Writes the raw sectors of a floppy & displays/save them in a form of a file
Since it’s in its BETA, so lots of bugs will be there which need to be addressed. So, I’d like to request you to give it a try & let me know.
As floppy drives are obsolete today, so one can use VFD & simulate a floppy drive with a drive letter A:\ (presently, it’s a must)
The program sometimes faces a problem in dismounting the drive to which it opens a handle. In that case, one should unmount & remount the image from within VFD.
Since still I’m not sure about the acceptability & also running in short of time, I couldn’t (or didn’t) prepare a detailed user guide, but a primitive documentation. I’ll request the user to go it through before actually trying it out. Apart from the documentation. please do read the thread & the rest of this post patiently as I’m adding an online user-guide in successive posts.
Any queries posted on this thread will be answered ASAP.
BTW, I’ve planned to put a bit more detailed user guide & technical documentation after a few days. I’m personally grateful to Nuno for his effort & support in guiding me doing that.
Lastly, I don’t consider myself eligible to put my small endeavour here, in Projectforge, which is a breeding ground for large projects. But I started a thread here just to support the moderators’ endless effort to “put everything in place”. If someone develops a hard feelings, please do look on my signature text.
The UI of the application is quite dull & it’s may not be as user friendly as its peer commercial solutions. So, I request you to keep your eye away from those issues for a while & concentrate on the functionalities.
Let me discuss about the main menu options in brief:
#1. Write to disk: It writes to the raw sectors of a floppy disk. Selecting this option will present u with a choice between sector range(1) & existing file(2).
If u select #1, it’ll ask for the starting sector#(where the writing will start from) & sectors to write#. Then it’ll ask for data to be written in each of the sectors. The data length or each sector is constrained by the sector size(512 Bytes).
If u select #2, it’ll ask for the filename to be entered in DOS 8.3 format & write the entire file in contiguous sectors.
#2. Read from disk: It reads from the raw sectors of a floppy disk. It’ll ask for the starting sector#(where the reading will start from) & sectors to read#. Then the application presents u a choice between whether to save retrieved data in a file(#1) or not(#2).
Selecting #1 will again u to require to input the name of the file in DOS 8.3 format.
Selecting #2 will simply display the data.
- Known bugs: Reading more than two sectors from disk will scroll the data out.
- Possible usage: #1 & #2 can together act as a primitive disk editor to be used in conjunction to a hex editor.One needs to save the data in a file from the disk, modify it with a hex editor & write it back.
#3. Format the disk: It quick formats the disk using the built-in FORMAT utility of Windows.
- Known bugs: The output from FORMAT destroys the interface completely.
The following three options claims the understanding of a term coined by me: virtual file (abbreviated as VF, from this point onwards). As I’ve pointed out earlier that the app fabricates a custom file system on the disk to store files which is not recognized by the OS but the app. To distinguish the “normal” files we are acquainted with from those the app deals with – the term has been used. To summarize, VF are the files not “seen” by the OS but the app only.
#4. Write to file: When this option is selected, the program asks for the name of the file “to be written on the disk” in DOS 8.3 format & residing in the same directory. If it can find & obtain a handle to the file, next it is required to provide the name of the VF. Armed with the above two information, it writes the file on the disk. However, after the writing process is over, one can open the floppy drive in explorer to convince oneself that the file is not displayed there. To convince oneself more, one can even try to uncheck the checkbox Windows Explorer -> Tools -> Folder options -> View -> Hide protect operating system files & select the radiobutton next to “Show hidden files & folders” to verify that this is not being achieved by tuning the Hidden|System bit on or some nasty registry tweaks. A sample listing after writing two files is shown below:
#5. Read from file: This feature reads the VF from the disk & displays them as a numbered list. Entering the number next to a file leads the app to ask whether the retrieved data to be saved as a “normal” file in the same directory as the app. However, even if not required, then also it is advisable to save the retrieved data in the form of a file to avoid scrolling problem. If “Y” is selected, the filename to store the data has to be entered, where as “N” will straightaway display the data. If “0” (Zero) is selected at the very first stage, it returns to the main menu from within #5.
- Possible usage: First the floppy disk has to be prepared for the operations in #4 & #5. In order to do this, one has to format the floppy first, then select #7 (“Erase data”) from the main menu & provide “Y” as the input at both the successive stages. Then the above instruction may be followed.
- Known bugs: The software “DOES NOT” use any form of encryption as of now & therefore it’s possible to explore the data with a disk editor. It only relies on “tricking”the file system for providing a primitive security from “normal computer literate” users. For the reason, till now it’s a data hiding rather than an encryption software. Incorporating an encryption algorithm without taking help from a third-party library is in my agenda.
#6. Delete file: This option deletes existing virtual files from disk. When selected, it presents the same options as you can see in the 2nd screenshot of Post#1. Enter the number next to the file to delete the file or enter “0” (Zero) to leave the file system unchanged. One caution is, make sure to enter the correct number as the application doesn’t ask for any confirmation as of now.
#7. Erase data: Select this option if you want to erase the data contained in all the sectors or some specific sectors of floppy disk. At first, the application will ask you whether to erase all the sectors.
If you choose “Y”, it’ll rub off all the sectors.
If you choose “N”, it’ll ask to to enter the “starting sector number where the erasing will start from” & “number of sectors to erase”. Then it’ll ask for a final confirmation. Entering “Y|y” will execute the task at hand while “N|n” will abort the operation.
#8. Scan a disk: Prolonged use of a floppy makes some it sectors unreadable. This feature scans a floppy surface area for corruption & reports number of corrupted sectors, % corruption & on the more, all the stats in a graphical format.
#9. Defragment a disk: Prolonged use of a disk to write & delete virtual files decreases the effective storage capacity of a disk. Hence. it becomes a must to defragment the disk with this option to reclaim its storage capacity.
#10. Hide/Unhide from Windows: So far, the application was concerned with dealing with virtual files. But, if the disk is written in usual manner (i.e. from Windows using Windows Explorer or from DOS using copy/xcopy) & then the user wants to hide them, this option comes into play. Selecting this option will present you a choice between hiding & unhiding the data.
If you select #1, then it’ll hide the data.
If you select #2, then it’ll unhide the data.
Then, the application will confirm one last time whether it should carry on with the hiding process. “Y/y” triggers the operation while “N/n” aborts it.
However, you have to ensure that the disk doesn’t contain any bad sector & has at least 16 KB of free space. Otherwise, it’ll lead to data lose.
#11. Help: This option launches the help panel in a dual-pane view. The necessary instructions for browsing the help is given at the bottom of the screen. Choosing an option from the left pane elaborates it in the right pane.
#12. Exit: This option is quite self-explanatory. It releases all handles & resources & gracefully shuts the application down on the contrary of the typical, annoying “End Now” dialog box which appears from clicking the “Close” at the upper, right corner.
- Download : http://reboot.pro/topic/12373-protectdata/#entry107803 (Scroll down till the end of the first post)
- Discussion : http://reboot.pro/topic/12373-protectdata/