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What is Samsung Knox?

Samsung Knox logo

Knox is a new security feature that is being offered with certain Samsung handsets. It helps you to securely separate your personal and professional data. Essentially, you can have the benefits of using a ‘work phone’ without the need to carry, and secure, a separate device. All in all we have found Knox to work nicely. It can be configured so that it’s easy to use and access, yet barely noticeable. It’s a nice security addition and free with new Samsung handsets such as the Galaxy Note 3Galaxy Note 4  and Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition. Samsung has put together this short video about what Knox offers, but we explain its functionality in greater detail below. You can also view the official Knox user manual here.

What is Samsung Knox?

In layman’s terms, Samsung Knox is an app that creates a new ‘layer’ on your Samsung phone so that you can securely separate your personal and professional activities.

This layer is essentially a second version of your phone that requires a password to be accessed and restricts the way in which the handset is used.

When in Knox mode, there are only certain apps that you can use. If Knox is installed by an administrator at your place of work, they will be able to specify which apps you can use. By default, the apps included are Camera, Gallery, Downloads, Email, S Planner, My files, Phone, Contacts and Internet (Samsung browser only, not 3rd party). You do not have access to the Play Store, but there are an additional 75 ‘Samsung Knox’ apps that are available for download.

Certain functions are disabled within Knox, such as capturing a screen shot. Device administrators can also specify which apps can be used as sharing intents from within Knox.

Some of the apps that are available to download from the Samsung Knox Apps Store include:

  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Box
  • Harmon.ie
  • iAnnotatePDF
  • OfficeSuite 7 Pro
  • OfficeSuite Viewer
  • qPDF Notes
  • QuickSpell
  • TouchDown
  • Podio
  • Jorte Calendar
  • GoFormz

You can view the full list of apps here

There are also special offers available for Box, Lookout, ShareFile, Dropbox and CloudOn. These give you a nice discount on the paid tariffs for some of these apps. You can view the deals here

Using Knox

You can switch between Knox mode and personal mode using shortcuts in the app tray and notification tray. A password timeout is set so that you do not need to re-enter it each time you switch from one mode to another. The password time out period can be changed by entering Knox mode, pressing the capacitive settings button, selecting Knox Settings and then selecting Password Timeout.

You can, however, override the password timeout and lock Knox by pressing the padlock icon within the notification tray shortcut.

When in Knox mode, there is a shortcut on the home screen named ‘Personal’ that will take you back to your normal device. There is also a shortcut to switch modes placed within the notification tray, which also contains within it a padlock button so that you can lock and unlock knox. Keeping Knox unlocked enables you to use the shortcuts to switch between the two different modes without having to enter your password.

The switch between personal and Knox is almost seamless. There is a very short lag while the home screen is rendered, but this is negligible. This is using a Galaxy Note 3 mind you, which is very powerful, but for the time being Knox is only offered on Samsung’s high-end devices and it’s not clear as to whether or not it will be offered on those low-end devices that would potentially suffer from lag.

Any data captured or entered when in Knox mode is not accessible from within your personal account and vice versa. For example, if you take a photo whilst in Knox, it cannot be accessed from your personal gallery.

You can also place shortcuts to Knox apps on your personal home screens. For example, if you place a shortcut to Knox camera on your personal home screen, you can then take a quick photo, which is saved in only the Knox gallery, without having to make the switch to Knox mode. If you are only using Knox for one or two activities, this saves you from having to switch modes too often.

Another nice touch is that if you have a work email account setup in Knox using Microsoft Exchange, the management policies that are applied to the account (e.g remote device wipe) only apply to the Knox container. This means that if for any reason your place of work feels the need to remotely delete your data, it will only be applied to the Knox container and will not delete files in your personal account.

Even if you are not required for security reasons to use Knox, it could be worth using it anyway in order to keep your personal and work life/data separate.

How to transfer existing files to Knox

Normally, the easiest way to transfer a large file or a large group of files to a device is by connecting the handset to your computer and using a file manager. Due to its security restrictions, this option is not available when using Knox.

If you do need to transfer some existing files to Knox, the easiest option is to download one of the cloud storage apps that are available for Knox, such as Dropbox, Box or even Evernote. Each of these apps have free tariffs, so if you don’t have an account already it won’t cost you money to get the files transferred. Simply upload your files to the service that you choose, download the Knox version of its app from the Knox app store, and then login and download the files that you need.

How to install Samsung Knox

Knox does not come pre-installed on your Samsung handset, but there is a shortcut within the app tray so that you can download it (for free) if you wish to use it. Once you have installed Knox, you will be asked to set a password. Make sure you don’t forget this as you will need it to access Knox or if you wish to uninstall it. You are also asked to set a backup PIN in case you do misplace the password. Once installed, To access Knox, click the shortcut within the app tray or in your notification bar.

How to uninstall Knox

If you don’t use Knox, you may wish to uninstall it. It’s worth noting that you do not need to uninstall Knox in order to remove the shortcut from the notification tray as there is an option to turn this off if you go into the Knox Settings. To uninstall Knox, press the menu button whilst on the Knox home screen, then choose Knox Settings. From here, select About Knox and there is then the option to uninstall. You are given the opportunity to back up your Knox data before proceeding with the uninstall. Should you make the backup, you are given the option to restore your Knox data if you reinstall the app at a later date. Once you have uninstalled Knox, the shortcut will still appear in the app tray so you can easily reinstall again later.