Safe Professional's remit is simple: to encrypt data on a number of storage media using a symmetrical key system based on 256bit AES, which is essentially uncrackable using current technology. We looked at the Professional version - the plain vanilla, Safe ‘client', which lacks the network administration tools, is available for £30 inc VAT.
The Professional version can be installed and configured centrally using Active Directory. Group policies can be used to determine who is to use Safe and how it is to be used, specifying, for example, minimum password strength. An Emergency Decryption Key - in essence a backdoor, which gives administrator access to data without revealing the password - is also available. And once data has been moved in to a safe, the chore of secure deletion is taken care of by Shredder.
Safes of encrypted data, up to 256GB in size, are easily created by a wizard, then encrypted and password-protected. Each is given an available drive letter, appearing as a virtual hard drive to all applications that is visible only after you log in.
For such strong encryption, strong passwords are essential. Safe usefully scores proposed passwords for strength - and believe us, it's picky. Safes can be stored on fixed hard disks, network shares, removable media, USB memory keys, or even iPods. Strong passwords are typically difficult to type in but these can be stored on a USB memory stick - simply plugging it in opens up a protected drive. Or you can store it in a Bluetooth phone - walk away and the protected drive promptly closes.
Note that encryption or decryption does impose a performance overhead; accessing data held in a virtual drive is slower than normal.