iStorage Diskashur 2 review

A rugged and secure external hard drive

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Our Verdict

The iStorage Diskashur 2 is an incredibly secure and rugged external hard drive that won’t be for everyone; if it does suit your needs, however, you’ll be very impressed.

For

  • Impressive security
  • Rugged design
  • Easy to use
  • Looks good

Against

  • Expensive
  • Security may be overkill for some
  • Not the fastest

If you’re after a rugged external hard drive that keeps your important files safe from the elements while also incorporating some heavy duty security measures – both physical and via software – then iStorage’s range of external hard drives are well worth considering, and one such drive is the Diskashur 2.

If you’re familiar with iStorage’s products you’ll recognize the physical keypad on the front, which gives you additional security that other external hard drives lack. This new generation of Diskashur also comes with a faster USB 3.1 connection for improved performance, and offers large capacities (the drive we're reviewing here is 2TB).

For some people the additional security and ruggedness will be overkill, but if you’re carrying around a lot of sensitive data then the Diskashur 2 could be just what you’re after.

The Diskashur 2 costs £289 (around $380, AU$500), which is expensive for an external hard drive but cheaper than the Diskashur Pro2, which costs £489 ($670 in the US, or AU$1,039).

Design

While the Diskashur 2 sports the familiar physical number pad on the front of its body, we have to commend iStorage for making it look a lot more attractive than the rather utilitarian designs of previous models.

There's a choice of colors for the front and back: Fiery Red, Phantom Black, Racing Green and Ocean Blue, which you can see here. While you’re not going to be spending this sort of money on a drive primarily for its aesthetics, it does make the drive look and feel more modern.

A USB 3.1 cable comes attached to the drive and wraps neatly along the body, keeping the connector safe when not in use. There are three LEDs just above the keypad that let you know what security state the drive is in: Standby/Locked, User/Unlocked or Admin Mode.

On the side of the body there's also a Kensington lock slot for fastening the drive so it can't be removed. When it comes to security, it’s clear that iStorage has put a lot of thought into this product.

As you’d expect from a rugged drive, the Diskashur 2 feels well-built and robust. It’s rated IP56 for water and dust resistance, and the keypad is epoxy coated for water resistance as well. The epoxy resin covers the entire disk, not only helping to protect it from accidental damage but also making it difficult to tamper with.

The Diskashur 2 is designed to offer 100% hardware encryption, so you can protect your data without needing to plug it into a PC or download drivers.

It also comes with a carry case that offers a bit more protection, and which also makes it easier to transport. It’s a nice addition.

Performance

The Diskashur 2 ships pre-formatted in NTFS, and comes with a default PIN that you’re encouraged to change straight away – this is a simple matter of holding down the Unlock and 1 buttons and entering in the admin PIN, and then your new one.

iStorage makes sure your PIN is secure by requiring a minimum of seven numbers, which can't be sequential or repeating. This is a good way to encourage owners to use secure PINs, although you'll need to be sure to remember any PIN you choose.

Once it's unlocked you can use the Diskashur 2 as a standard USB external drive. In our benchmark tests the drive achieved 128.9 MB/s read and 130 MB/s write speeds.

These aren’t the fastest speeds we’ve seen from an external hard drive, and the fact that the Diskashur2 uses a traditional hard drive, rather than a solid state drive (SSD), hampers its speeds. If you’re more concerned about data transfer rates you’ll want to get something with an SSD, such as the Adata SD700 External SSD.

However, its performance is in line with what we’d expect from a hard drive-based device, so if you don’t mind taking a slight performance hit, and are more interested in the security credentials of the Diskashur 2, then you’ll be happy enough.

In our real-world tests the Diskashur 2 copied a folder containing 440 files, with a combined size of 10GB, in a very respectable one minute and 43 seconds, at an average speed of 127 MB/s. So while this isn't the fastest external hard drive you can buy, it’s still a very good performer.

Verdict

iStorage has made another great external hard drive that offers unrivaled hardware-based security. The keypad enables you to physically lock down your data, while the small yet rugged body ensures that you’re unlikely to lose your data by damaging the device.

It is expensive compared to other external hard drives, though, and if you’re not interested in the high level of security that the Diskashur 2 offers then you will be able to find cheaper – and faster – external hard drives out there.

However, if you often carry around important and sensitive documents the Diskashur 2 is a fantastic device that's well worth the money for the peace of mind if offers.