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Bitlocker Versus True Crypt Performance

26 Nov/09

Alexander over at 4Sysops has performed benchmark comparison tests of the encryption software programs Bitlocker and True Crypt on netbooks. Bitlocker is the encryption software that ships with Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows Vista Ultimate while True Crypt is a freely available Open Source alternative. Both have features that the other software does not offer. Bitlocker for instance comes with a very handy Bitlocker To Go option (only in Windows 7 available) which can encrypt a removable device and put a program to decode the data on the same stick so that it can be executed on other Windows operating systems without Bitlocker being installed on them (which is theoretically not possible on Windows XP or unsupported versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7).

True Crypt on the other hand is open source and a cross-plattform application which gives it the advantage if a user works with Windows, Linux and Mac systems.

The performance impact of both encryption software programs is neglectful on modern desktop computer systems. Netbooks, which are usually powered by Atom or Celeron cpus on the other hand, are not as powerful as desktop PCs.

I ran some benchmarks on an Atom N260 Netbook. For BitLocker, I chose three different encryption algorithms. For TrueCrypt, I chose only the fastest algorithm according to its built-in benchmark.

The results on a tested Atom 260 netbook are that Bitlocker performs better than True Crypt. The first chart shows the transfer rate in Megabytes on a system without encryption and on a computer system with either Bitlocker or True Crypt encryption. Both have a noticeable impact on the computer system.

bitlocker truecrypt transfer rate

The second chart shows the performance loss compared to a system running no encryption.

bitlocker truecrypt performance loss

True Crypt did perform worse in the test. The author did not fail to mention on the other hand that the difference in performance was not noticeable during tests. Alexander comes to the same conclusion

As you can see, TrueCrypt performs worse. The default BitLocker algorithm (AES 128 bit with diffuser) is 12% faster. If you use the same algorithm in BitLocker and TrueCrypt, BitLocker is even faster by 14%. So switching to TrueCrypt in order to increase performance is a bad idea. But in defense of TrueCrypt I have to say that the difference is hardly noticeable; running encryption on a netbook makes it slow whether BitLocker or TrueCrypt is used.

To sum it up. Both security programs slow down netbooks noticeably but the difference in performance between the two programs is not noticeable even though it is existing. (via 4Sysops)

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