The only way to keep your files safe, secure, and away from unauthorized hands, is to encrypt them. While encrypting individual files is always a nifty solution, if you have a strong memory to remember individual passwords, it is even better to create an encrypted container and put all your sensitive files in there or encrypt the whole disk.
When it comes to encryption solutions, there are many. But the two mostly used solutions are BitLocker and VeraCrypt which is forked out of TrueCrypt.
If you are on a pro version of Windows, you can also use BitLocker which can help you encrypt individual drives. But if you are in a dilemma regarding which one to choose between BitLocker and VeraCrypt, I am here with a detailed BitLocker vs. VeraCrypt comparison to help you choose the solution that matches your requirements.
While these are two diverse solutions, and things are totally different deep down at the core, I will talk specifically about the features that you as a user will actually care for.
But before proceeding further let’s talk a bit about both BitLocker and VeraCrypt. That should answer most questions about which solution you should go for.
What is better BitLocker or VeraCrypt?
Let’s compare BitLocker and VeraCrypt to know the difference between them.
Microsoft has its own encryption solution BitLocker which is available right from the first boot of your brand-new Windows computer, however, its availability is limited just to the Enterprise and Pro versions in the case of Windows 7, where it first had its appearance, Windows 8, 8.1, 10 and 11.
BitLocker uses AES 128-bit or 256-bit encryption and can be used to encrypt a whole drive that is connected to your Windows computer. BitLocker can also encrypt your secondary drives like flash drives or USB drives connected to your systems, however, they will only run as long as you are connecting the drive to a Windows computer that supports BitLocker.
On the other hand, VeraCrypt is a cross-platform and open-source encryption solution that is forked out of TrueCrypt. While the latest developments of TrueCrypt date back to almost a decade ago, and there’s no development since 2014, VeraCrypt has improved the code in terms of security, and for better overall performance.
With VeraCrypt, you can create encrypted containers, and can, for sure, encrypt individual drives to keep the files safe within, and away from unauthorized access.
Now that you know the features, let’s have a look at the differences.
It is pretty uncommon these days to not have multiple devices, each running on different platforms like Windows or MacOS on our laptops, Android or iOS on our smartphones. That said, the availability of an app across different platforms is a requirement, and never at all a luxury.
Talking about BitLocker is a proprietary encryption mechanism developed by Microsoft to be used exclusively on specific Windows devices. But don’t expect you can get BitLocker on any Windows PC that you have.
Unless you are having a copy of Windows 7, 8, 10, or 11 Pro, you can’t use this feature. If you are purchasing a new PC with pre-installed Windows, there is a high chance it will come with Windows 11 Home.
If you are having Linux running on the same PC, you can’t access the drives encrypted using BitLocker. So, BitLocker is not just not cross-platform but is not available on all Windows editions too.
On the other hand, VeraCrypt is an open-source encryption mechanism that is based on TrueCrypt, and hence it is cross-platform. As of now, VeraCrypt is available readily for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, and Raspberry Pi, and the source code is already available to be viewed or modified. If you are on Android, you can also create VeraCrypt containers, or view and modify VeraCrypt containers right on your Android.
So, when it comes to availability across platforms, VeraCrypt, which is based on TrueCrypt, is a clear winner in this case.
Features and ease-of-usage
If you want to encrypt files and are here to see a comparison between BitLocker and VeraCrypt, you are already a semi-power to a power user. In this case, using an encryption program is expectedly not as easy as pushing a button. But features play an important role. Let’s find out who wins on this front.
BitLocker is extremely easy to use, just like most other Windows programs and services. You can easily get started with encrypting your drives, and decrypting them whenever you want to.
Talking about features, using BitLocker, you can only encrypt drives that are recognized by your system (both primary and secondary), however, there is no way you can create encrypted containers to easily transfer encrypted files between your devices, nor can you create encrypted drives within drives.
On the other hand, VeraCrypt is, if compared, a little difficult to use, but not like you need coding skills to get started with BitLocker. Simply get started with the wizard, follow a few steps, and the encrypted container is ready to use.
To mount an existing container, simply select a drive letter and hence select the container to instantly start using it as a regular drive on your Windows. The ability to create containers makes it extremely easy to transfer files, and hence containers between multiple devices.
As Linux users, there aren’t scopes to use BitLocker, and hence, discussing things from a Windows user’s perspective. In terms of features, VeraCrypt garners more points, and I don’t consider BitLocker a winner here, simply because it is slightly easy to use.
Encryption standards and security
Encryption standard is the primary fuel for any encryption software or solution. So, now we will have a look at the encryption standards and security of these tools.
Developed by Microsoft, BitLocker implements AES 128-bit or 256-bit encryption which are pretty strong, and go as per industry standards. However, as BitLocker is developed by Microsoft, and is a proprietary tool, there’s no way you can peep into the underlying code that makes things work.
Obviously, because it is a closed-source program, security researchers can’t scrutinize the code, however, that’s not going to impact your everyday workflow if you are effortlessly using the tool.
On the other hand, VeraCrypt supports a handful of encryption mechanisms like Serpent, and TwoFish, besides AES. So, you have more options to choose the encryption mechanism based on your specific requirements.
VeraCrypt is a TrueCrypt’s fork, and the underlying source code is modified to match the latest standards and address critical flaws from time to time. The source code is often audited by independent researchers to find any critical flaws that might put user data at risk or other vulnerabilities.
So, talking about encryption standards and security, in general, VeraCrypt is a clear winner.
Security comes at a price. Let’s now look at the amount you have to pay to use each of the encryption solutions.
Coming to BitLocker, it is neither free nor you can purchase a copy of it for your Windows computer. If you are getting the Pro version of Windows 7, 10, and 11, you will get BitLocker free of cost.
However, if you are using the Home edition of Windows, you won’t get the encryption features that BitLocker has to offer. So, as you can’t pay Microsoft to get BitLocker as an add-on utility for your Windows computer, you either get Pro, and BitLocker comes bundled, or you lose it totally.
On the other hand, VeraCrypt, which is based on TrueCrypt, is an open-source program. So, just like any other open-source program in the market, you can use VeraCrypt free of cost on your computer, as long as it has a fork for the operating system that you are using. However, if you want to run VeraCrypt containers on your Android, EDS Lite is a free app, however, there are paid solutions as well, like EDS – encrypt your files to k. So, VeraCrypt is free, for the most part.
Hope you now have a clear idea of who wins in every aspect. Yes, VeraCrypt is a clear winner as it wins in every comparable metric. But that doesn’t mean, BitLocker is worthless or is not useful at all.
BitLocker can be a starter for several users using the Pro version of Windows, even if they are using a pirated copy. VeraCrypt on the other hand is available either as a portable executable with limited features, or an installer to unleash all the features available within the program.
As VeraCrypt is an open-source program, there can sometimes be delays in updates, and a few bugs can bother you for some time. The fact that VeraCrypt needs to be downloaded or installed as a separate program actually keeps many users away from trying it out.
If you are a regular user who doesn’t care a lot about granular security and privacy features, BitLocker, if it comes with your Windows Pro version, is more than you will ever need. Windows updates fix critical bugs in BitLocker making it more reliable for Enterprise users or those who use BitLocker for serious encryption purposes.
So, if you are an enterprise user, BitLocker can be your way to go. However, if you are an individual user, want a free solution, and don’t have troubles, if some bugs bother you for some time, go for VeraCrypt.
Hence, that’s all about the BitLocker vs. VeraCrypt comparison. Do you have any further questions? Feel free to comment on the same below.