PROS / This software can encrypt and decrypt files very quickly.
CONS / You don't get much in terms of security aside from encryption.
VERDICT / SafeHouse Personal Edition is a very fast file encryption program with limited security features.
SafeHouse Personal Edition is file encryption software that works quickly and is fairly simple to use. However, it lacks some important security features, including the best algorithm key for file encryption.
This is one of the fastest encryption programs we tested. You simply copy files over into a folder, which SafeHouse quickly encrypts as a whole. We didn't have to wait long at all for it to lock down our 63 files, which added up to 128MB – it took slightly longer than two seconds to encrypt, and about two seconds to decrypt.
The software is easy to use. You simply drag and drop your files into the volume, so it works a bit like a virtual hard drive. The volume doesn't show up in your Explorer or computer directories, which gives you more privacy. You can easily change the password for your volume under the tools and options, and even change the size of your volume to make more room for files.
Though SafeHouse encrypts your files, it only seems as though you're password-protecting a folder, because it doesn't have the usual features to let you see the encryption working. For example, while it encrypts, you don't see a progress bar to show the status of your files' encryption, which can give you peace of mind that the software is indeed protecting your data with not just passwords but secure encryption. It uses Twofish 256-bit encryption, which is secure but not the gold standard – most of the best encryption software uses AES 256-bit, which is so strong that even the U.S. government uses it.
For you or your recipient to access your files – whether on a PC, on a flash drive or via email – SafeHouse must be installed on the device used to open them. This can be an issue if you encrypt a file and email it to someone. However, the free trial version of the software can open any SafeHouse volume – the recipient just needs the password to open your sent files if they download the trial version.
Aside from file encryption and decryption, SafeHouse doesn't offer much in terms of security. You can use the included password strength meter to make sure you create strong passwords, but you don't get a password generator that comes up with strong, random ones for you. It also lacks a file shredder to make your deleted data unrecoverable, a virtual keyboard so you can type your passwords by mouse clicks rather than by detectable keystrokes, and a stealth mode to make your activity on the software invisible. All these are tools that strengthen file encryption software beyond encrypting and password-protecting files.
As long as you don't use a dinosaur Windows version, you won't have any issues running this software on your PC. It is compatible with Windows XP and all newer versions.
PC Dynamics, the manufacturer of SafeHouse, offers plenty of customer support options in case you find yourself in a bind. You can contact the company directly or opt for online resources first. The website offers FAQs, a manual and tutorials to help you learn to use the software.
SafeHouse Personal Edition doesn't have most of the security features of the best encryption software in our review, nor does it use the strongest encryption available. However, it encrypts and decrypts files very quickly, and its ease of use also makes it a decent option for encryption software.