PGP Personal for Windows 8.0 review: PGP Personal for Windows 8.0

Review Sections

The PGP Mail app itself sports a floating toolbar interface that includes buttons for launching the PGP Keys program, encrypting and signing files, decrypting and verifying files, and wiping files clean. With the free version, you can use the PGP Mail program only to encrypt files or text on your system clipboard.

The PGP Keys button summons the PGP Key Generation Wizard, where you enter a phrase that secures your public and private keys.

Handy toolbar for PGP e-mail functions.

The PGP Disk program, which is available in the Personal edition (accessible directly from your Windows System Tray), lets you create, edit, write, and read encrypted files on your hard drive--perfect for laptop users. You won't find this convenient tool in the freeware version of PGP.

Unlike some encryption-equipped compression apps, including CuteZIP, PKZip and ArticSoft FileAssurity, PGP 8.0 does not include archiving capabilities. It will, however, compress your files as though you had zipped them. Also, for encryption, CuteZip uses either a PKZip-compatible format (165-bit DES) or the more secure 128-bit Twofish, and FileAssurity uses a 256-bit PKI, while PGP includes stronger protection with 256-bit AES encryption, as well as CAST, TripleDES, IDEA, and Twofish.

PGP 8.0 performed flawlessly in our tests. It executed with speed and ease every encryption and decryption task on a 900MHz Pentium III system with 256MB of RAM running Windows XP. PGP 8.0 establishes a connection to a public key server at, a repository for looking up and verifying keys. This process was swift and error-free in our tests.

PGP Personal lets you assign hot keys for quicker access to encryption features.

The PGP Disk utility creates an encrypted portion of your hard drive. Putting large files in this volume and retrieving and unencrypting files from it took approximately the same amount of time as saving and opening files from nonencrypted drives on the same system. The PGP Mail program also encrypted, signed, and unencrypted messages with no appreciable delays.

PGP 8.0 includes an extensive integrated help system that does a good job of introducing PGP's complex key-based encryption mechanisms. If you haven't used PKI programs before, the sections on "Getting started with PGP" and Using PGP Keys are well worth reading.

The online help is essential for new users.

The Personal edition of PGP 8.0 comes with one year of support. This includes a detailed support Web site, with technical notes and searchable FAQs that deal with many common problems and questions, as well as e-mail-based technical support with a guaranteed response time of two business days. Telephone support is also available.