This October, ClevX released its own drive encryption solution, ClevX DataLock BT Secured (opens in new tab), comprising a chip, Bluetooth antenna, and proprietary software. TechRadar Pro covered the device as the news was close to release. Given that all you need is a smartphone, it could be one of the easiest secure drive platforms to get up and running. With physical passcode locks and compatibility with all major SSD controllers, this may be another drive security solution for you to consider.
Luke Hughes, Graduate Junior Writer
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 (opens in new tab) or USB flash drives (opens in new tab) 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.
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The best secure drives of 2022 in full
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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
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.
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.
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 aluminum 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.
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 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.
The DataLocker DL4FE is a highly portable and super-secure USB drive is great for those that need to collect or deliver data to systems without having to install software on them.
Password access is via a small touch panel, and long and complex passwords can be defined on this FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Device certified drive.
Failure to put the password correctly will lock the drive indefinitely after a pre-set number of tries, and it can intentionally be made unusable with a secret ‘SilentKill’ code.
With up to a 64-character password from letters and numbers, this can be a very secure solution that is sensitive to physical intrusion and can even be remotely managed via a special admin console service.
However, the entry screen is small and challenging to use with adult-sized fingers, and the cost of the drive for the SSD models is excessive even for the smaller capacities.
Read the full review: DataLocker DL4FE (opens in new tab)
Secure encrypted storage devices once required software to be installed to provide a means to input the decryption key, but the Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 circumvents the need for that with an inbuilt touch screen.
Available in 480GB, 960GB and 1920GB capacities, the VP80ES, as it's also known, sports FIPS 197 certified security and a Common Criteria EAL5+ certified secure microprocessor. Kingston designed it to cope with various potential attacks, including BadUSB and even physical intrusion into the mechanism. And, the drive will erase the contents if too many passwords are incorrectly entered.
The storage component is an SSD, although this drive can only achieve reading and writing of around 250MB/s over a USB 3.2 Gen 1 connection. Out of the box, it comes with a soft carry pouch and two cables for USB-A and USB-C connections.
It’s expensive by storage standards, but the VP80ES is a solid attempt at providing an easy-to-use, transportable and secure repository.
Read our full Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 review (opens in new tab).