A while back, I was given an Ironkey 2gb flash drive to review for GeekNews. I’ve had plenty of time now to put it through some testing, and now I’m going to lay my experiences out on the line for you.
The unit comes in a slick, stainless-steel, waterproof case that feels sturdy and with quite a heft to it compared to other flash drives I’ve used. The case is injected with an epoxy that covers the circuitry and keeps it dry and shock-resistant. Just looking at the drive itself, you can tell it’s secure, and that any tampering would cause the destruction of the drive. Having only a single seam along the back of the unit is a testament to its apparent strength and protection.
So setting up the Ironkey drive for the first time, it asked me to set up a login and password and configure the secure Web browser, taking just a few minutes. The Ironkey has an internal password generator that can create passwords for you that include normal, alphanumeric, or strong variants, depending on your desire for secure access to the unit.
Setting up your account online was the next step. After filling out the necessary information, and answering a few questions to setup the Ironkey services, I had access to an online password backup, device and software updates and use of Ironkey’s encrypted surfing service, through Firefox. Now I was ready to use the Ironkey!
So now I can plug in the drive in any computer with a USB 2.0 port, and a menu will appear on the bottom right hand portion of the screen, asking for your validation password. Once past that, you have several options available to you. Backup your files with encryption, a password manager, access to your account online, and changing settings. I knew from reading the documentation, that Firefox was included in the drive as a mobile app, so I decided to check that out first. And, true to word, Firefox settings were completely self contained, including cookies, passwords, and any temporary content generated via web surfing to several of my favorite haunts on the web. Plus, I had thought using the secure proxy via Ironkey’s encrypted web service would have slowed any surfing down, but I was pleased to be wrong. It was also handy to port over all my IE bookmarks, that serves as a secure backup just in case!
I spent some time copying files to and from the drive, and was pretty pleased with the transfer rate of 12mb (read) 10mb (write) even though the documentation proposes rates of 30mb (read) 20mb (write). Taking about 5 minutes to fill up the available 1.6gb of available space, this drive isn’t the fastest I’ve used, but I believe the speed vs. security far outweighs any inconvenience.
Well, I work at home, so security isn’t generally an issue. However, it is nice to be able to lock the drive via the Ironkey menu at anytime, and still leave the drive in the USB port while going off to take care of other things. It’s a nice touch, and relieves me from having to remove the drive and pocket it every time I have to leave my desk. It is a semi-pain to have to type in your passkey again when you want to continue using it, especially if you’re using a 15 digit secure passkey complete with control characters, like me (Did I mention that if you enter your password ten times wrong, the drive circuitry self destructs?). But, such is the life of keeping your data secure.
So let’s say tragedy hits, and you’ve either lost or destroyed your drive. Ironkey offers a secure online backup service that allows you to restore any backed up data onto another Ironkey drive with little difficulty, and you’re on your way back to business once again. How cool is that?
In all, a very handy and secure flash drive in my opinion. Its satin debonair finish and heft definitely give it a class that I find lacking in most similar units. Definitely this would be recommended to those with a wish to keep their data secure in a fast and easy to use package.
Thanks again to Katie Mason, at Ironkey for the opportunity to review this device!