TrueCrypt levels up: Hardware acceleration, convenience improvements | The Download Blog - CNET Download.com

TrueCrypt levels up: Hardware acceleration, convenience improvements

The freeware encryption program TrueCrypt updates to version 7, gaining hardware acceleration powers, auto-mounting, and the ability to encrypt hibernation and crash dump files.

There's no killer feature update to TrueCrypt 7 as there was in version 6. Still, the latest revision to the popular open-source and free encryption program for Windows, Mac, and Linux debuts some new features and security enhancements that make it worth the upgrade.

TrueCrypt 7 introduces hardware acceleration for computers with select i5 and i7 processors from Intel.

TrueCrypt 7 introduces hardware acceleration for computers with select i5 and i7 processors from Intel.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Users whose computers have certain Intel chips are expected to see faster performance because of support for AES encryption. TrueCrypt says that AES is between four and eight times faster than encryption powered solely by software. The company has provided a list of supported Intel chips. At the time of writing, it includes six i5 processors and two i7 processors for desktops and 12 processors for mobile devices. Users can also forcibly deactivate the feature by going to the Performance option under Settings.

Windows users will see multiple new features. Encrypted volumes can now be set to automatically mount on Windows whenever the host device is connected and the proper credentials have been provided. This makes connecting encrypted USB keys and external drives more convenient. Favoriting gets more convenient on Windows, too, as users can now favorite non-system volumes, and customize options for favorited volumes, including mounting at logon, affixing special labels, and changing the order in which volumes are displayed.

The latest TrueCrypt takes advantage of pressure directed from TrueCrypt towards Microsoft in the wake of version 6 that requested an API for hibernation files, which had not existed previously. TrueCrypt 7 can encrypt both hibernation and crash dump files. Although the feature is available to all supported versions of Windows, TrueCrypt notes that the feature is best suited to users of Windows Vista and later. Windows XP and Windows 2003 do not offer an API for encrypting hibernation files.

One feature has been removed from TrueCrypt 7. The program won't encrypt device-hosted volumes on floppy disks, although TrueCrypt will still allow users to create file-hosted volumes on floppy disks.

There's no doubt that none of these feature and improvements is as impressive as the ability to encrypt an entire operating system, which landed in TrueCrypt 6. Still, they mark the introduction of useful improvements to the program and upgrading is recommended.

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