Portable USB 3 disk
diskAshur2 from iStorage is a USB 3 (and USB 2 compatible) portable drive that is small enough to fit in your pocket. It isn’t as tall as a mobile phone, but it is about as thick as three stacked one on top of the other. It feels fairly rugged and has a rubber feel front and back that looks like it could absorb a few knocks without any problems, although it does come with a soft carrying case.
There isn’t a separate power supply and the drive draws sufficient from the the USB port to operate. The USB cable is integrated into the drive case and clips in when travelling or can be pulled out to plug into the computer. The cable is short, which could be a bit irritating in some situations where there isn’t much space next to the computer, but is convenient for travelling.
Locked with a PIN
What is different about this USB drive is that on the front of it is a keypad and three LEDs. Plug the drive into a PC running Windows or Linux, or an Apple Mac and nothing happens apart from the drive showing a red padlock LED.
Use the keypad on the diskAshur2 to enter a PIN code and it unlocks the drive and then it appears in Windows Explorer (or the equivalent on Linux and Apple Mac). From then on it works just like a regular USB disk drive.
The drive can be formatted and it is supplied with NTFS by default, but it can be formatted using FAT for compatibility with Linux and Macs, or it can be Mac formatted. It is just like a regular drive.
However, when the drive is unplugged, when the lock button on the keypad is pressed or when it has been idle for some time, it automatically locks. diskAshur2 uses more than a simple lock and it has AES 256-bit hardware encryption built in. In addition to this, there are anti-tamper and anti-hacking systems and if any attempt to break into it is detected, it enters a ‘deadlock frozen state’.
This means that without the PIN, the drive contents cannot be accessed. You can’t even guess the PIN because it freezes after several wrong attempts and eventually it deletes the encryption key and locks itself. It looks like everything possible has been done to prevent unauthorised access.
Admins and users
The diskAshur2 has an admin mode that is accessed with a PIN and it can be used to change the settings. You can also set up a user PIN so that someone else can use the drive, but they can’t lock you out or change admin settings..
This is a great USB drive for keeping your files safe and secure. There are software encryption tools and encryption provided by Windows or macOS, but putting hardware encryption on the drive itself means that it works independently of software and OS.
You could put files on the drive on one computer and then give it to someone else, perhaps not even running the same OS or software, and after entering the PIN, they can access the contents.
Drive types and capacities
There are solid state drives and old style mechanical drives and the one I tested had a 1TB traditional drive that costs UK £219, but the range is from 0.5TB (£159) to 5TB (£449). SSDs range in capacity from 128GB (£139) to 1TB (£539). The price includes a couple of useful software tools - ESET security and Nero BackItUp.
I like the diskAshur2 and it worked well on my Windows PC and Apple Mac. The performance was good and file transfers were speedy. I didn’t try to crack open and hack the drive, but from the description it seems that every possible security measure has been taken. Your files are as secure as they can be.
The only drawback is the price and these drives are about three times the cost of a standard USB drive. If you are not put off by the high price or need a super secure storage device, these are great drives.
Product: diskAshur2 1TB USB 3 drive
Verdict: A very secure portable USB drive, but expensive.