Best secure drives 2019: top USB drives to protect your data

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Whenever you carry important data around with you on a USB stick or external hard drive, you're running the risk of other people getting hold of it, either through physically stealing the drives, or leaving it somewhere public.

In this guide to the best secure drives of 2019, we look at the top data storage devices that will allow you carry private data around with you, safe in the knowledge that if the device itself becomes compromised, your data will remain safe.

The best secure drives will use either software or hardware encryption (or best of all, a combination of both), to stop other people accessing and viewing your data. Many of the best secure drives on this list will have ways to prevent access, such as a physical keypad, and will also come with rugged, tamper-proof, cases that can further protect your files.

1. eyeDisk, Unhackable USB Flash Drive

Is this the most secure flash drive ever?

Storage: 32GB | Interface: USB 3.0

Works flawlessly
Relatively affordable
Speedy
Flimsy construction
Gets quite warm
Not compatible with Linux

We don't often get Indiegogo projects on our list but we're making an exception for the EyeDisk, which hails itself as the first unhackable USB flash drive. The concept is pretty simple; use your iris as your password rather than cumbersome passwords, making it much more secure. It is compatible with Windows and Mac but not Linux and you will have to run an app every time you plug it in a client. There's no password to log though, just your iris to be scanned and this takes a few seconds to be registered. It's not as rugged as other secure drives on this list, but it managed some very decent numbers on CrystalDiskMark (130MBps transfer rate on read and 84MBps on write) which means that it won't keep you long. At the time of writing, you can only pre-order it via Indiegogo, the crowdfunding platform, and it is scheduled for delivery from March 2019. With a starting price of $59 plus shipping for the 32GB version and $99 for the 128GB, it is reasonably priced.

(Image: © Desire Athow)

2. Kingston Ironkey D300S

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

Storage: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB | Interface: USB 3.1

Very sturdy design
Water proof
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

3. diskAshur Pro 500GB

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

Storage: Up to 2TB | Interface: USB 3.0

High levels of security
Powerful encryption protection
Hard-wearing design,  but light and portable
Works across multiple operating systems
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: © Desire Athow)

4. Aegis Secure Key 3NX secure drive

Enhanced encrypted data at a much lower price.

Storage: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB | Interface: USB 3.0

Very affordable
Military-grade protection
Extensive warranty
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.

5. Aegis Secure Key 3Z

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

Storage: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB | Interface: USB 3.1

Super secure
Hard-wearing design
Simple set-up and use
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.

6. Apricorn Aegis Secure Key USB 3.0 480GB flash drive

An excellent alternative to other secure solutions on the market

Storage: 480GB | Interface: USB 3.0

Massive capacity
Exceptional value for money (for a secure drive)
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.

7. Kingston Ironkey D300

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

Storage: 8GB | Interface: USB 3.0

Durable
Comes with AES-256 encryption
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.