Strengths: TrueCrypt is great for file encryption and the price is the best in the group tested - free.
Weaknesses: TrueCrypt cannot, today, encrypt the boot OS drive in a Windows XP environment. This might be possible in the future, but as of SC's publication date, this feature is not available in TrueCrypt.
Verdict: The development of TrueCrypt appears to be evolving quite well, and more functionality may be coming soon. Since the product is free, it might become a viable alternative to commercial whole disk encryption software packages in the future. Remember, though, this is not a whole disk encryption product.
As a big fan of open source software (this entire review was written in Open Office), we were hoping that TrueCrypt would give the pay products a run for the money not spent. Unfortunately, TrueCrypt is not whole drive encryption software as it was defined for this category. TrueCrypt can encrypt an entire drive; however, that drive cannot be the drive from which the operating system boots. TrueCrypt can encrypt external USB drives, flash drives and MP3 players, but it cannot encrypt the partition on which Windows XP resides.
The installation of TrueCrypt was quite straightforward, and the documentation was written well enough that we could determine in just a few pages that TrueCrypt was not able to perform entire disk encryption such as the other products in this category could.
A quick Google search yielded a support page for TrueCrypt. This explained why TrueCrypt could not encrypt the operating system hard drive — TrueCrypt did not have a software agent that would interrupt the boot process to require authentication for the encryption software to decrypt the drive. TrueCrypt’s documentation mentions that this functionality may be coming in a future release, but as of press time, the software does not encrypt the OS boot drive and interrupt the boot process to require decryption.
This product is good at what it does in terms of encrypting external (non-boot) drives, but as far as protecting your OS, this open source offering just does not have that ability yet.
Since the software is free, it does provide good value. In addition, if you are operating on a thin budget, TrueCrypt is the best option for file encryption. Many users create a boot partition that, perhaps, contains applications along with a second partition for data only. That partition can be fully encrypted using TrueCrypt, or you can create encrypted containers for various folders.