Skip to main content

Best secure drives 2021: top USB drives to protect your data

Included in this guide:

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Keep your important files as protected as possible with the best secure drives on this page. These USB sticks and external drives have additional protection, usually thanks to either software or hardware encryption (or best of all, a combination of both), which means if they are lost or stolen, the data stored within them cannot be accessed.

This is vitally important if you use external hard drives or USB flash drives for storing and transporting private data, especially if it concerns your employees or clients.

If you do store that kind of data, then the best secure drives are an essential purchase, offering you far greater security and protection than standard USB storage or external drives. 

The best secure drives you'll find on this page are essential devices for anyone who's looking for external storage that will keep confidential and important files completely secure. Take a look at our picks.

Image
TechRadar Exclusive

Backup your secure drive with this cloud storage solution
IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 5TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.

(Image credit: Desire Athow)

Premium security that comes at a (very) steep price.

Specifications
Storage: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Interface: USB 3.1
Reasons to buy
+Very sturdy design+Water proof
Reasons to avoid
-Shockingly expensive

The D300S was announced by Kingston and is an updated version of the D300, launched in 2016, with the suffix S standing for Serialised. It appears to be a standard USB drive, but with a more robust design. However, it's the price that really stands out. There is a reason why the D300S carries such a premium according to Kingston. The drive uses custom hardware for encryption (FIPS 140-2 Level 3 256-bit) and decryption which eliminates vulnerabilities associated with any process done on the host system. That chip and the rest of the hardware is sealed in a tamper evident epoxy material that hardened when it dried. It's also waterproof up to 120cm, and can survive knocks and drops as well

An PIN-protected way to make sure your data stays secure.

Specifications
Storage: Up to 2TB
Interface: USB 3.0
Reasons to buy
+High levels of security+Powerful encryption protection+Hard-wearing design,  but light and portable+Works across multiple operating systems
Reasons to avoid
-High price tag-Some availability issues

diskAshur's products are some of the best secure drives on the market, and the diskAshur Pro is the company's best external hard drive yet. The key selling point of the diskAshur Pro is its physical keypad that will only grant access to the data stored within upon entering a PIN number. Asides from the physical security (which extends to IP56 water and dust resistance and even a self-destruct feature), the diskAshur Pro also comes with some enviable encryption, sporting XTS-AES 256-bit real-time full disk hardware encryption and EDGE technology to offer even more levels of safety.

(Image credit: Desire Athow)

Enhanced encrypted data at a much lower price.

Specifications
Storage: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Interface: USB 3.0
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable+Military-grade protection+Extensive warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Small size could make it easy to misplace

If you need to have small amounts of sensitive data being carried around, then the 3NX could well be a life saver. It brings advanced data protection features to a mainstream market thanks to its attractive low price ($59 for the 2GB/4GB model) and $189 for the 128GB one. What you do get is some military grade, enterprise-level features like FIPS 140-2 level 3, real time hardware-based encryption, a platform-agnostic setup and a rugged extruded aluminum enclosure. The data is encrypted using an onboard 10-digit keypad and is powered by an onboard battery.

A super-tough USB storage option for everything you hold dear.

Specifications
Storage: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Interface: USB 3.1
Reasons to buy
+Super secure+Hard-wearing design+Simple set-up and use
Reasons to avoid
-High price tag

The ultra-rugged Aegis Secure Key 3Z is designed to keep the data safe for people who regularly work outdoors or on the road, with a rubber exterior, which is IP58 protective against dust and water, safeguards a rugged aluminium build inside and out, meaning that there is no easy way to break into this device. Meanwhile, it also features a physical keypad for keeping your data safe and secure. It's pricey, but well worth the investment.

An excellent alternative to other secure solutions on the market

Specifications
Storage: 480GB
Interface: USB 3.0
Reasons to buy
+Massive capacity+Exceptional value for money (for a secure drive)
Reasons to avoid
-Initial installation can be cumbersome-Big so be careful with USB ports

The Apricorn Aegis Secure Key comes with a full 10-key alphanumeric keypad with two function keys plus three status lights. It then slots into a hardened epoxy-potted rugged aluminum enclosure which makes it dust and waterproof; the device is also certified IP-58 and at 46g and 93mm long. It also features built-in hardware encryption (256-bit AES) which means that it is totally independent from the host client and OS-agnostic. No keyloggers and no BadUSB vulnerability. The Aegis Secure Key has received a FIPS 140-2 level 3 accreditation from NIST, the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology, which oversees US government IT and computer security, which means this is one of the most secure drives you can buy.

The best secure drive for those looking for affordable peace of mind

Specifications
Storage: 8GB
Interface: USB 3.0
Reasons to buy
+Durable+Comes with AES-256 encryption
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive on a per GB basis-Can’t be used out of the box

The Kingston Ironkey D300 (IKD300/8GB) comes with software security that can make it a bit complicated and confusing to begin with (it will initially show up on your PC as a CD drive with 14.4MB capacity), but once you've configured it, which includes setting a password, you'll have a very secure drive. With its cap on, it is waterproof (up to 4ft) and dustproof and at 51g, feels solid. More importantly though, the more compelling protection happens inside the device itself. It is a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified device with 256-bit AES hardware encryption. There is a hardware cryptographic module inside the device itself which means that the encryption and decryption is done on the drive rather than on the host PC, with digitally signed firmware which makes the D300 immune to the notorious BadUSB exploit.

Matt Hanson

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.