ALERT: Some images may not load properly within the Knowledge Base Article. If you see a broken image, please right-click and select 'Open image in a new tab'. We apologize for this inconvenience.

How long does it take to encrypt a hard drive?


Article ID: 157131


Updated On:


Drive Encryption


How long does it take to encrypt a hard drive using Symantec Drive Encryption?


Encryption is a time-consuming and CPU-intensive process.  The larger the disk or partition being encrypted, the longer the encryption process can take.  You should consider this as you schedule initial encryption of the disk.  

Factors that may affect encryption speed include:

  • The size of the disk or partition.
  • The processor speed and number of processors.
  • The number of system processes running on the computer.
  • The number of other applications running on the system.
  • The amount of processor time those other applications require.

With an average system, an 80 GB boot disk or partition takes approximately three hours to encrypt using Symantec Drive Encryption (formerly PGP Whole Disk Encryption) when no other applications are running.  A very fast system, on the other hand, can easily encrypt such a disk or partition in less than an hour.

You can still use your system during encryption.  Your system is somewhat slower than usual during the encryption process, although it is fully usable.

Symantec Encryption Desktop (formerly PGP Desktop) automatically slows the encryption process if you are using the system.  The encryption process is faster if you avoid using your computer during the initial encryption.  The system returns to normal operation when the encryption process is complete.

If you decide to run other applications during the encryption process, those applications will probably run slightly slower than normal until the encryption process is over.

If you will not be using the computer during encryption, you can speed up initial encryption using the Maximum CPU Usage option, described in the following KB article (TECH149636).  The extra speed during encryption comes primarily by taking priority over other operations that your computer is performing.