EasyBCD & TrueCrypt, tools for the HDDs pros updated
July has been a noteworthy month for fans of the not so trivial arts of multiboot and hard disk data encryption, which have been able to profit by the release of updated versions for two of the best utility software out there: NeoSmart Technologies released version 2.0(.1) of the EasyBCD advanced bootloader, while the so called TrueCrypt Developers Association brought to 7 the version number of its powerful, open source encryption software.
Version 2.0 of EasyBCD (soon followed by a minor release which corrects some last-minute bugs) comes out two years after the 1.7.2 one, and the long timeframe means the latest release brings a very long list of new features and bugfixes. By announcing its availability on the official blog, NeoSmart Technologies director Mahmoud Al-Qudsi lists what he thinks the mostly distinctive improvements and features of the software tool new version are.
EasyBCD continues to be the most versatile and powerful Windows Vista/7 bootloader modification available, and version 2.0.1 adds the ability to fully support the latest operating system from Microsoft, a new interface that is easier to use, automatic configuration for Windows XP dual-boots (with no need for manual changes), support for the Linux bootloader GRUB2 and file system ext4fs, the chance to boot from ISO and VHD images (!), to create bootable USB drives, to even boot from devices not supported by the system BIOS (hard disks, USB, network, …), an improved Master Boot Record or BCD boot configuration (Vista/7) repairing functionality and much, much more.
Such broad and powerful functionalities are extremely difficult to find within a single software, let alone packed into a graphic interface that tries to be comprehensible and practical to use. Let’s add the fact that EasyBCD is a freeware software and one can’t be amazed that several websites (”hundreds” according to the official site), magazines and Microsoft itself suggest to use it. EasyBCD also has a rich on-line documentation - being updated to version 2.0.1 - for the faint-of-heart folks which pale when they face the perspective of modifying the system bootloader or replacing the HD MBR.
Likewise to EasyBCD, TrueCrypt really does not have any need for much of introduction as well: the software is one of the most powerful on-the-fly files, disks and storage volumes encryption tools since years now, distributed with an open source license (non-GPL at the moment) and it’s compatible with all the major computer platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac OS). Released just a few days ago, TrueCrypt version 7.0 includes new advanced features and in particular support for AES-NI hardware instructions to accelerate encryption/decryption tasks through the AES algorithm.
The x86-64 AES-NI extended instructions are implemented on some models of Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, and according to the performance tests made by heise Security their exploitation let TrueCrypt go from a 287 Mbytes/sec transfer rate to a 2 Gigabytes per second rate during read/write operations on encrypted volumes. TrueCrypt 7.0 other additional features include automounting of adequately configured volumes, support for partitions with sectors larger that the standard 512 bytes (4096, 2048 or 1024 bytes), a new “Favorite” menu to manage encrypted volumes and support to the official Windows Vista and subsequent OS APIs to encrypt the hibernation file and crash dumps.
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