on 31 May 2014
This is not a moan more a bit of information if your considering buying one, Although it is a 2GB Key, when it is set up & running the space you have is actually 1.38 GB out of 1.48GB. due to the pre loaded software.
It is a bit of a hit in terms of storage but it is still a really worthwhile product for the safe storage of your passwords.
on 24 May 2016
Mac Users be warned. You have to upgrade it to allow for latest versions of OS and - here's the drawback - you can only do it in a Windows environment. The manufacturers should realise some of their prime targets are Mac users and some will not figure out why it doesn't work as plug n play.
on 3 August 2014
Excellent and secure. I had some problem on one of my 2 windows 8.1 machines and had to run it in windows xp compatibility mode. I'm sure it's the laptop rather than this memory key. Otherwise I have found it to work on all computers with a variety of operating systems and permission levels.
At first glance, these USB drives may seem extremely-expensive. What you're paying for though is serious security.
Strictly speaking, nothing can ever be 100% secure. There's always an exploit or way of getting around things. However, that mainly applies to software-based security and that, for obvious reasons, is almost always cheaper.
Enter the IronKey.
IronKey is hardware-based encryption, meaning you'd need physical access to the drive. Even then, a brute-force (that is, running a list of all possible combinations at the system until the combination that comprises the password is found) attack is highly-unlikely to work and this is the beauty of this device: enter the password incorrectly too many times (in this case 10) and one of two things will happen; either the device self-destructs (rendering the hardware where the data is stored useless) or it's reset to factory settings, meaning all data is erased. Which of the two options happen is set by the owner at setup. Choose wisely.
If you really care about data being protected, the above feature will likely sell you on this alone, but there's more.
It's possible to have the drive lock itself if you're inactive for a set period of time (5 to 15 minutes) as well as use an onscreen keyboard instead of your own physical keyboard, if the possibility of keystroke-logging software worries you.
The features on this device are over-the-top (as is the price) for the average user. If, however, in a world of NSA-snooping you're worried about your truly-sensitive data, this should be right up your alley.
I've used much cheaper flash drives with encryption programs before, but these require you to go through an encryption process to save the files and then to reopen them, which is quite cumbersome and time-consuming. This flash drive, however, basically does it on the fly once you unlock the disk by using a password.
Once the secure area is open, you can transfer files to and from with no further encryption required, easy as pie, just like copying to any other drive or folder on your computer.
The secure area is password protected and even has a setting whereby it self destructs after 10 failed password attempts. Alternatively, you can simply reset the password, but all data on the drive will be securely erased, so no-one can get their hands on it.
The drive itself is quite sturdy and solid, not to mention a bit larger than pretty much all others, so presumably it has an element of physical protection as well.
If you need to secure your files, I can't imagine there's anything better around. I'm knocking off a star as the drive is very expensive, presumably due to the encryption and physical attributes, which means that the cost of the memory is marginal and I feel that they should have made this at least 32GB for the money,
I was slightly surprised at how big this USB drive was. It is significantly bigger and heavier than most other USB drives currently on the market, sizing in just longer than a credit card. It has a simple, strong metal construction which certainly implies that it will live up to expectations, although I haven't actually tested out the physical strength too thoroughly.
It is incredibly simple to set-up, although when syncing for the first time on Windows 7, it too some time before it was actually ready to use. Setting up the password is a simply process and allows the user to password protect content with wrong password entry resulting in either destruction of the device (I'm yet to find out whether this is just internal or a mission impossible mini explosion), or a simple wipe of the data.
I think for information that needs to remain incredibly secure this might be a worthwhile investment, but given the significant cost, and the potential to protect other memory devices, I can't really recommend it for the average user. Although it may be useful for business or national secrets.
I deal with small but sensitive pieces of information regularly and usually wouldn't take the risk of transporting it around in case I were to mislay it, or it was stolen (I don't really think anyone would intentionally steal it, but say my handbag were to be stolen and then the information would be at large and I would be in trouble!)
This provides an excellent solution, I don't need huge amounts of storage and this really doesn't offer much - 8gb nowadays in terms of USB storage is really very small, but as the documents that I am dealing with are mainly basic word documents, the size is more than sufficient and I only tend to use about 6gb at once. However if you are in need of more storage, but with the same security features, IronKey have the same model with storage of up to 64gb.
The security features include the option to have the device wipe out all the information contained on the stick or for it to self destruct (cue numerous mental images from James Bond and the Man from Uncle!) Personally, I have opted for the wipe clean option, as I am concerned that I might forget the password (for which there is no back door) and then at least I could start again, re-downloading from the main server. I might have lost one evening's work, but at least the information would not have escaped into the public domain.
In a world where data protection is so important, this is a great solution for really safe data storage or data transfer - it is pricey, but think of it as much cheaper than a personal bodyguard!
I have a special "thing" for USB sticks. My everyday carry is a 32Gb Corsair survivor which is heavily rugged but doesn't offer any form of data security. These days, we often carry large amounts of data with us and much of it is personal & valuable. How much is actually worth protecting?
If you are genuinely concerned by someone gaining access to your data then you could do worse than this Ironkey USB stick.
This stick has a sturdy black metal body but has a removable cap rather than a captive cap which I prefer. The cap is internally rubberised so it's possibly water-resistant? The addition of a metal wire hoop for attachment onto your keyring is a great idea.
Firstly, you don't get a full manual, rather a starter guide in the box. The full instructions are carried on the stick itself. It's worth noting that only 7gb is free, the remainder taken up by the installed software. When you insert the USB stick, you firstly see a DVD-Drive, on which you execute the .exe file. This runs a secure application which accesses another drive on your PC. The files are accessed via an explorer tab in the app itself.
Set-up of your password was simple but there are a whole host of options. You can set the USB to either wipe the USB stick after 10 failed logins or "self-destruct" (kaboom!). My favourite option is the ability to automatically log-out after a period of inactivity and the addition of a virtual keyboard to prevent keylogger attacks is a great idea for public PCs.
So, despite the military grade encryption, how does it perform as a USB stick? Not well. In a real-world transfer of a video file, this USB managed 9.1 to 9.4 mbps whereas other USB 2 sticks I own manage around 25mbps.
So essentially you're paying over £100 for around 7Gb of slow storage. You can buy a rugged 32gb USB 3.0 stick for around £40 but if you absolutely MUST have the addition of military grade encryption then I guess this is a good example. It loses a star for the ice-age speed.
Let's assume that by looking at this product, you are somebody who sometimes has to transfer sensitive data from one place to another, data which could cause you over £100's worth of pain if it fell into the wrong hands (politician? rock star? civil servant? or just paranoid?). Therefore you're willing to pay around ten times as much as you could get a regular 8Gb drive for. In that case, this device should tick all your boxes.
It's sturdy- it's quite a lot larger than your average USB stick nowadays and it has a rugged build feel that makes you believe it would survive a lot of dropping and trampling if necessary.
It's simpler to use than I expected. The software pops straight up on Windows without any hassle. You set the password on first use, and from that point on you need to mount the 'unlock' drive and enter the password before the proper drive itself appears. Windows reports a useable space of just over 7Gb, and transfer speed is only slightly slower than what I'd expect from a non-encrypted drive (I was getting a 5Mb/s write speed for example).
You can change the drive's settings so that if the password is entered incorrectly 10 times, the drive wipes itself back to factory settings. I switched it to that straight away, because then if I do suffer incredible amnesia and completely forget the password (there's no reminder system built in), then at least if I do get it wrong I'll be able to start from scratch with an empty drive.
If you don't actually have any data that's really that sensitive and you're just a bit of a gadget lover with money to burn, don't bother with this. After the initial novelty of "ooooh it's very secure" you won't get much techno-joy out of this. It's plain and functional, which is good because it doesn't have any over-the-top styling which might have shouted "steal me!".
I imagine that if your data was of such extreme sensitivity that a hacker would want to spend days getting it off this device, they probably could, but for anything less than Government-level paranoia (cough), this will do the job nicely. Obviously your security is only as good as the weakest point in the chain, so if you then proceed to copy all the data onto your laptop and then leave that laptop in a pub, that's your own problem...
This is a quality piece of kit - solid, waterproof beyond military standards with a range of government-standard security features, it's also easy to use with straightforward & genuinely useful software.
It's heavier than a standard, mostly hollow USB drive due to its brushed metal cover & being filled with a black epoxy-based potting compound to protect the chips from shocks & vibrations. It scratches fairly easily, though. It came with a plastic sleeve wrapped around it & I scratched the cover when I slid the scissors underneath to remove it. it also gained a few more after just a few minutes in the same hip pocket as my keys. But scratching the surface looks like the full extent of the damage you could easily do!
Another reservation I had was the removable cap. This is tighter than most & I can't see it sliding off by accident unless you have the drive for a very long time. But I must confess to having lost it the very first time I used the drive. Nevertheless, I can hardly blame IronKey for my own stupidity!
The security features detailed in the PDF manual & installation booklet are numerous & impressive. Apparently it "self-destructs" after 10 failed password attempts. Which doesn't actually mean it blows up but rather it erases every block of data & makes the device unusable. Alternatively, you can set it to reset the drive instead, which means the device will still work but you'll lose all of your data. Incidentally, there's no backdoor 'admin' passwords - the only way to access your data is via the password you set yourself. So make sure it's memorable!
Once plugged in, a small console appears in the corner of the screen. When the password has been entered you can drag & drop as normal but the console is actually very useful. For one thing, it tells you how much storage space is left (BTW I got the 8GB drive, which it says has 7.05GB actual storage space when empty). It also features a backup program for storing an encrypted version of your data on your PC. This can only be read by re-installing it onto an IronKey device.
Combining military-grade hardware & software which fulfills government security requirements, this handy little drive is overqualified when it comes to meeting the security needs of most users. It's as secure as it gets.