With GDPR only a few months away, securing data (and avoiding multi-million pound fines) has never been so high on the agenda of businesses both large and small.
There are plenty of storage solutions on the market that promise to ring-fence your content using good old physical PIN numbers, and the datAshur Pro (which costs £129 – around $180 – for the 64GB model) is one of them. The difference here is that the numeric keypad is on the drive, which eliminates the threat of traditional keyloggers.
Note that the drive is also available in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB models.
This USB 3.0 drive is IP57-rated which means that it is dust protected and can be immersed in up to 1m of water – that's providing it's housed in its rugged aluminum sleeve. You can laser etch text or a logo on the device for an additional fee.
The drive has a rechargeable battery that allows the user to enter a PIN (between 7 and 15 digits long, and you have 10 seconds to do that) before connecting the drive to a USB port. The ability to unlock the drive before placing it in the USB port is handy.
As you might expect, the battery gets charged when you plug it into said port. Note that you may need to charge the drive for up to 60 minutes before using it for the first time.
The drive itself is electric (metallic) blue in color and has a metal wire loop. It’s as tough as one would expect from a device that has passed stringent MIL-STD-810F tests.
The data transferred to the USB drive is encrypted in real-time thanks to the built-in XTS-AES 256-bit hardware encryption – which doesn't slow down your system. This adheres to FIPS 140-2 Level3, CESG CPA/NLNCSA and FIPS PUB 197 standards.
Setting the drive up takes just a few minutes and there’s a handy quick start guide that will help first-time users.
You don't require any additional drivers, and the drive itself is compatible with almost every OS under the sun – that includes Linux, Chrome and exotic operating systems running on thin clients and embedded systems (e.g. Citrix).
The list goes on, though: smartphones, tablets, printers, scanners, CCTV cameras, basically any device with a USB or USB OTG port. Bear in mind that if the host device is compromised, then your data and your drive won't be secure.
Just remember that while this is a secure device, you should still have backups because if you forget your PIN, the stick will delete the encryption key after 10 failed attempts.
The drive comes with a three-year warranty although the very nature of the product means that aftersales service might be tricky. If your drive failed with data on it, do you take the risk and send it back or just dump it?
Perhaps the only reservation we have, other than the price, pertains to the design. The length of this device – about 78mm – means that it's more likely that you could damage your laptop's USB port, because there's a greater chance that the stick might get accidentally knocked.
The iStorage datAshur Pro reached 40.7MBps in read and 43MBps in write speeds respectively on CrystalDiskMark, and that benchmark result is roughly in line with what iStorage suggests. ATTO benchmarks showed a remarkably similar story with the drive hitting 43MBps in read and 41MBps in write speeds.
Clearly this drive is not meant to achieve super-fast transfer rates or shuttle multi-Gigabyte files on a regular basis, but rather to be used as a secure file repository.
Resetting the drive deletes the encryption key, making the data unreadable; as such the datAshur Pro is impervious to brute force hacks.
The iStorage datAshur Pro is a one-of-a-kind drive with a simple (but not simplistic) and easy to understand encryption mechanism. As long as you don’t forget your PIN, you will be able to recover the data that’s stored on the drive.
And other than the slightly tricky setup process, using the drive is a breeze. Just make sure you charge it regularly (it contains a 3.7v Lithium-polymer battery) to avoid the prospect of potentially returning to a lifeless USB drive.
We’ll end this review on a quick tip: we’d advise you to go for the biggest drive your budget can afford.
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