Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

Many people still balk at keeping sensitive data and files in the cloud. Myself included. There have been so many security breaches over the past five-plus years that I just don’t trust keeping my most crucial business and personal info out there. That’s why personal backup storage systems are so popular – people can keep all of their files on a physical drive somewhere – safely away from the internet, yet instantly accessible when needed. And business travelers also face the conundrum of wanting all of their files available on the road, yet they’re weary of losing a storage drive in transit. There are solutions. And I like the new option from Kingston Technology the best.

The company last week unveiled its IronKey Vault Privacy 80ES external solid state drive. It’s encrypted so that even if you lose it, no one is breaking into it anytime soon. That’s because it uses a 256-bit advanced encryption standard. You set the password via its friendly, intuitive color touch screen. The password can be up to 64 characters long, or you can just set it up to use a PIN. And then you can set how many password attempts can be made to unlock it before the device turns into an unhackable brick. You can also set multiple passwords, depending on your situation – handy for administrators. Plus, the device is OS independent – meaning you can use it with an iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Windows desktop, Macbook, Chromebook, or whatever machine you want. The entire device is small – what you would expect from a portable external hard drive – and weighs next to nothing. And it offers dual read-only (write protect) modes for malware protection. There’s also an adjustable auto-timeout to lock the drive, randomize its touch-screen layout, and secure-erase the drive to wipe out all passwords and the encryption key. Plus it comes with a zip-up neoprene case and a USB-A to USB-C cord, as well as a USB-C to USB-C cord.

It’s offered in three storage sizes, up to 1.92TB. I got hold of the middle model – the 960GB version – and put it to the test with several of my devices. Setting up my password was super-easy. The device won’t power up until you physically connect it to a machine. I did, and it asked me to press an icon on the screen to calibrate my finger location accuracy. From there, I established a password. And then it asked me if I wanted to put the device in read-only mode or completely unlock it. I loaded up a lot of large files, via a drag-and-drop process. It wasn’t the fastest device at this task — external hard drives rarely are. But later on when I went to move those same huge files off the Kingston to my computer drive and phone, it was nearly instantaneous. Regardless, loading files onto the Kingston was still a smooth and fairly quick overall process. I’m just used to using the brand’s lightning-fast USB external storage disks. Speaking of, Kingston is offering brand-new encrypted IronKey Vault Privacy USB sticks, as well.

Having this encryption security layer gives me extreme peace of mind. Every now and then, I find myself traveling with USB sticks loaded with data. And I honestly feel vulnerable leaving them even around my home, in case we are ever victims of a robbery. But with this new product, I will no longer have that fear.

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