PGP, SecurStar disk encryption products

Two new products to protect your data even if your computer falls into the wrong hands

You may not always be able to protect your laptop from a thief, but you can keep the data it contains safe. Two new products--PGP Whole Disk Encryption 9.5 and DriveCrypt Plus Pack 3.5--promise to protect your data, so that even if your computer falls into the wrong hands, its contents will remain unreadable. Both applications are easy to use and offer an impressive suite of tools, but most users will appreciate the more practical features and lower price tag of PGP's product.

Both PGP and DriveCrypt offer on-the-fly full-disk encryption, which means that they scramble all the data on your hard drive the moment you save it to disk. Both use the AES-256 algorithm--a fast, well-established, and trusted mechanism for encrypting data. Both protect a computer from the minute it's powered on, and give you a "single sign-on" so you have to enter your password only once per session, when you boot the PC.

The initial setup for both applications--creating an encryption key and telling the software which partitions you want to protect--takes just a few minutes. Once that's done, you can open, change, save, and close files as you normally would, and the software does all the work. Most important, the programs do their job quietly in the background and have no noticeable impact on day-to-day system performance.

The biggest differences between the two products are price--at US$119, PGP's package is a better value than the US$161 DriveCrypt--and additional features. Most people will find PGP's offering the better deal on both counts. For instance, PGP lets you create any number of "virtual disks," encrypted containers that the operating system treats as if each were another drive partition; this comes in handy if you want to encrypt some files on an external drive, but not the entire drive. The program also lets you create an encrypted "PGP Zip" file that you can send to others--and your recipients don't need a copy of the program to open the files within. PGP's package also includes a secure data-shredding tool for making any deleted file unrecoverable.

Still, the ultraparanoid might find DriveCrypt's feature set more compelling. The Plus Pack lets users create multiple passwords for a system, for instance. You can assign one password that grants full access to all data on a drive, and a second password that permits access to a only portion of the drive while hiding the rest.

Why would you want to do this? Suppose that someone were forcing you at gunpoint to enter your password, or suppose that you needed to assign different levels of access to company data to yourself and to members of your staff. When you create your encryption keys--a process that takes no more than three mouse clicks--DriveCrypt lets you hide the keys inside multimedia files, such as JPEG images or digital music. Hiding data inside seemingly unrelated files, a method called steganography, lets you hide these electronic valuables in plain sight, like an electronic version of a hollowed-out book on a bookshelf.

Whether you require the cloak-and-dagger features of DriveCrypt or the features of PGP that let you safely share encrypted data with others, both products provide a level of data protection that many PC users sorely need.

PGP Whole Disk Encryption 9.5

PGP offers practical encryption and data-protection tools for a reasonable price.


SecurStar DriveCrypt Plus Pack 3.5

DriveCrypt is expensive, but it can protect your data even under the most hostile conditions.


Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Andrew Brandt

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?