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How to encrypt your Palm Desktop files with Private Disk


Complexity – Basic

Time needed – Less than 5 minutes

Compatibility issues – None


A person owning a Palm does its best to offer its information the maximum possible privacy. The typical measures are – keeping the PDA in a safe place and protecting it with a strong password. None of these measures affects the mobility of the owner.

However, a Palm is tied to a desktop, as maintaining archives is a lot faster and easier through the Palm Desktop software. All the databases are stored on the local hard-drive each time a synchronization is performed.

As a result, the privacy of your Palm data is compromised. No matter how hard a person tries to protect the Palm itself, the data can be freely copied from the desktop PC in the owner’s absence.

A different case in which this trick can be applied is when one uses more than a single computer for data synchronization (ex: a desktop at home, one at the office, a public computer at the university campus, etc). If the necessary measures are not taken, the records are available to anyone while the owner is away.


The above mentioned issue can be solved by moving your Palm Desktop databases to a virtual encrypted disk.

All your Palm software will operate without any configuration modifications, as there are no compatibility problems caused by this change.


  1. Create a new virtual encrypted disk (see the "Creating a virtual encrypted disk" manual)
  2. Its size should be large enough to fit the internal memory of the Palm and the memory cards that you may have.
  3. If you wish to use this private disk for other purposes, you should first create a directory, for example "Palmdb".
  4. Start Palm Desktop, and change the following setting: ToolsOptionsData Directory either by manually typing the new path, or by clicking the browse button and indicating the new location ("Z:", or "Z:Palmdb").
  5. Press OK, and you are done


  • To avoid conflicts, make sure you mount the virtual encrypted disk before starting Palm Desktop.  
  • If you wish to revert to your old settings, you will have to modify the following registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareU.S. RoboticsPilot DesktopCore Set "Path" to your Palm Desktop directory, typically "c:program filespalm" After the above changes, start Palm Desktop and create a new user, with the same ID as on the PDA. Then perform a hotsync operation.


Click each link to download a specific part of the demo (in Macromedia Flash format).  


Smiley Why not just install my Palm Desktop on a NTFS partition and set the proper file permissions?

See the "Private Disk vs. NTFS" manual.

Smiley What if I install Palm Desktop itself onto the virtual encrypted disk?

This is not a good idea if there are several profiles (i.e. multiple Palm owners use the same Palm Desktop), because every user will have to know the password to the encrypted disk – which in turn ruins the concept of security. If your profile is unique, then the change will not have any side effects.

Smiley I want to go back to my previous settings, but when I run Palm Desktop and try to create a new user – it says "Could not create user, the name is illegal or the directory could not be created". What is wrong?

Palm Desktop is unable to create the directory because it cannot locate the private disk, for example "Z:". To avoid this error you should change your database directory to a different one before the removal of the protected disk.

Alternatively, you can manually change the default database path in the Windows registry. Consult the "Tips" section to learn how to do that.


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