I think that in the future we will be encrypting a lot of our data because, well, most of it probably won’t be located on our own machines. When all our files are in the cloud encryption will be important to ensure the security of our data, but up to now most people have never worried about encrypting anything.

Free solutions for encrypting files and hard drives are available, such as TrueCrypt, but it’s not always the most user-friendly thing to set up. The free (and open source) DiskCryptor is pretty straightforward though. This solution will encrypt hard drives, flash drives, and even CD/DVD’s. Unfortunately DiskCryptor is restricted to encrypting entire drives, but for some people that won’t be a problem if the sensitive data is kept on a secondary drive. Or, of course, DiskCryptor supports the encrypting of your boot drive if you want to go that route. Personally I encrypt all my drives except my primary (bootable) one.

What about performance? Here’s the claim they make on their site:

On the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU, data encryption speed amounts to 104Mb/s per core. The maximum speed of reading the data from a single hard disk, equals to 80Mb/s, thus consequently, one can work with up to 5 different disks without the loss of performance, when using the aforementioned type of processor. In case if your disks are not operating under a constant high load, then it is possible to work with even higher number of disks, and on a weaker system, without losing the performance.

That’s pretty impressive, but those particular stats are for a quad core processor. On a dual core that should still mean you can read from two drives simultaneously even if they are at maximum load. So you shouldn’t see too much of a performance hit just because you’re encrypting your data.

Here’s a list of some other features they highlight:

  • Disk partition encryption of any configuration, including boot and system partitions.
  • Choice to select an encryption algorithm: AES, Twofish or Serpent. Cascaded modes are available as well.
  • Full support for dynamic disks.
  • Full support for encryption of external USB storage devices.
  • Ability to create encrypted CD’s and DVD’s.
  • High encryption performance, comparable to efficiency of a non-encrypted system.
  • Support for hardware cryptography found in VIA processors.
  • Support for disk devices with large sector sizes, which is important when working with hardware RAID.
  • Automatic mount of disk partitions and external storage devices.
  • Extended configuration possibilities of booting an encrypted OS. Support for different multi-boot scenarios.
  • Full support for 3rd party boot loaders (LILO, GRUB, etc.).
  • Ability to place boot loader on external medium and to authenticate using the key medium.
  • Support for key files.
  • Support for hotkeys to dismount partitions, initiate emergency system stop, etc.

DiskCryptor works on Windows 2000 up to Windows 7, and is compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

DiskCryptor Homepage (Windows only; 32/64-bit; freeware)
[via FreewareGenius]