The best file encryption software in open source – group test

Keeping your secrets secret is an important consideration, so we have taken the four most popular encryption systems and ordered Linux User's chief group tester, Garath Halfacree, to do what he does best. Which is the ultimate option? Read on…

…and the winner is: TrueCrypt

While TrueCrypt’s somewhat thorny licensing terms mean that it’s not really suitable for the true free software advocate, for the average user it’s an easy package to recommend. The friendly GUI – while not the prettiest in the world – does a good job of making it easy to juggle even multiple encrypted devices, and the cross platform support is to be welcomed by anyone who wants to secure an external drive without losing the ability to plug it in to other computers when they’re out and about.

The performance is also impressive. To test each package out, we selected the default options in all cases – which included the use of the AES-256 encryption algorithm, generally considered to be one of the most secure around – and copied a single 256MB ‘large’ file and 500 128KB ‘small’ files multiple times, measuring the throughput each time. Taking an average, we were able to get a good overview of the performance penalty each package brought – and as the results graph shows, it was TrueCrypt that came out on top.

Although the software isn’t perfect, it’s certainly a good start for anyone looking to improve their privacy with a powerful encryption tool. For those with dm-crypt already provided in their distribution however as a whole-disk encryption option, however, LUKS may prove worth the learning curve.

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