SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD review

An update to an innovative secure storage solution

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Our Verdict

The SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB is one of the best external encrypted drives on the market backed by a quality SSD. Its unique selling point will divide opinions but we found that it worked flawlessly.

For

  • Reasonably priced
  • Unique security features
  • Faster than the HDD version

Against

  • You need a mobile device to unlock
  • Performance could be better

When we first came across SecureData’s range of secure storage devices, they stood out from the competition thanks to the use of Bluetooth connectivity and a smartphone to lock (or unlock) the data. This technique carries its own pros and cons, which we explored back in October 2018 in our review of the hard drive version of the SecureDrive.

The takeaway back then was that it was an interesting idea, but it was pricey and sluggish due to the storage component used. Let’s see how the new SSD version of the SecureDrive performs.

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD (Image Credit: TechRadar)

Design

This model is identical to the one we reviewed last year. The chassis is mostly dark blue brushed metal with bits of plastic at the top and bottom. There are red and green status lights (to indicate whether the drive is locked or unlocked), with a flat USB port located at one end which isn’t protected by a flap.

Note that the drive is not IP68 rated but should withstand shocks and drops easily given the nature of the storage component inside (namely an SSD). Maybe IP68 certification can be a feature brought in for the next iteration.

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD

 SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD (Image Credit: TechRadar) 

The drive is solidly built although the USB cable provided is shorter than expected. At 127 x 77 x 12.5mm with a weight of 204g, it is small enough to be carried around in even the tightest of spaces.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the SecureData SecureDrive BT SSD performed in our benchmark tests:

CrystalDiskMark: 285MBps (read); 295MBps (write)

Atto:  342MBps (read, 256mb);  334MBps (write, 256mb)

AS SSD: 319MBps (seq read); 315MBps (seq write)

Performance

The SSD version of the SecureData drive outclassed its HDD sibling and that is obviously no surprise. The Samsung 860 Evo SSD that sits inside is a proven workhorse having scored 4.5/5 stars in our review. What is disappointing, though, is that it doesn’t hit the sort of numbers we saw in the review of the 2TB version.

That drive hit 562.7MB/s and 533.3MB/s on sequential read and write speeds in CrystalDiskMark. The SecureData drive managed to score 285MB/s and 295MB/s respectively. The culprit for this major discrepancy is likely to be the encryption which adds a significant overhead.

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD (Image Credit: TechRadar)

Atto and AS SSD numbers were slightly better at 342/334MB/s and 319/315MBps on read/write respectively. Transferring a 10GB file took 66 seconds, which translates into a 160MBps transfer rate.

We’ve reached out to SecureData for an explanation of these performance numbers, and will amend this review if we hear back.

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD (Image Credit: TechRadar)

Usage

The drive comes with a two-year warranty, AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption, FIPS 140-2 level 3 validation with the appropriate certification, and an epoxy coating for FIPS physical security which will prevent physical tampering with the components.

Other useful security features include a read-only mode, inactivity auto-lock, step-away auto-lock, user remote wipe and password recovery. We didn’t encounter any major issues when using the SecureData 1TB SSD as we’re used to its peculiar mode of operation.

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD (Image Credit: TechRadar)

As a reminder, you need to install an app called Datalock from Clevx (iOS/Android) on your Bluetooth-enabled device, but the host OS (the device to which the drive will connect) can be literally any USB device with a female port (DVR, printers, car etc). While the host can also be the unlocking partner on iOS and Android, you can’t do that for Windows, as there’s no Windows app.

Bear in mind as well that anyone who has physical access to the drive can wipe out all the data with no chance of recovery – if they attempt too many failed logins. Of course, the same applies to any other secure drive that has a self-erase mechanism which is triggered after a set number of failed login attempts.

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD

SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB external SSD (Image Credit: TechRadar)

Final verdict

This drive comes with a two-year warranty plus a one-year license to Clevx DriveSecurity Antivirus worth $8.50. Although we’d usually try to compare the SecureData 1TB with traditional SSDs, one needs to bear in mind that it’s a unique security solution designed to secure your data first and foremost.

SecureData also offers more traditional keypad models that are autonomous and self-contained with a built-in power source, and this is where most of the competition is heading, based on our best secure drive buying guide.

The iStorage DiskAshur Pro2 is a 1TB portable encrypted secure SSD that costs $562 at Amazon, a 10% premium on the $509 SecureData SecureDrive BT 1TB, and it’s a physically far bigger drive as well, thanks to the added keypad hardware. Apricorn’s Aegis Padlock 1TB encrypted SSD, on the other hand, retails for far less than both at $434 despite featuring a similar set of specs.

Note that there is an 8TB version of the SecureDrive, as well, which is priced at $3,309, so actually offers the cheapest per TB price of the whole range.

So in conclusion, while not as fast as we’d wish, the SecureData SecureDrive BT offers a unique way to secure data at rest, which will appeal to those looking for a more elegant way to encrypt their data. It uses a Samsung SSD which makes it fast, although there is still significant headroom to increase performance as the Samsung 860 Evo can be pushed even further.

Add in IP68 in a future iteration and SecureData could be on to a near perfect secure drive. That is, if you can live with the fact that you will need an Android or iOS device to unlock it.