There are a number of reasons that you might want to transport data on an external, portable storage device like a USB thumb drive or portable hard drive or SSD unit—you may need to share data with or deliver data to someone, you might want to transport data without having to bring your laptop along, or perhaps you have a 2-in-1 hybrid device like a Surface Pro that has a smaller storage capacity that you need to augment with external storage. Whatever the reason is, you also want that data to be secure and protected from unauthorized access—which is why you might consider a device like the iStorage diskAshur Pro 2 SSD.
The diskAshur Pro 2 unit is relatively compact—about the size of two iPhones stacked on top of each other, but a little wider. It is 4.88 inches tall, 3.3 inches wide and just over 0.75 inches thick and weighs about 6.35 ounces.
The top has a series of indicator lights above a numeric keypad, which includes a lock, unlock, and shift (up arrow) button. It also has a connected USB cable tucked neatly into its side.
The device is IP56-certified as water and dust resistant and is sealed with an epoxy resin to make it difficult to open up or access physically. There is a desk lock slot to attach it securely to your desk as well.
Aside from the device itself, iStorage also provides a hard sided, zippered case to carry it.
iStorage offers the diskAshur Pro 2 SSD in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB models.
The function of the diskAshur Pro 2 SSD is simple enough. It is designed to store and transport data…securely. Very securely.
The device is platform agnostic—enabling you to use it with Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome, and other operating systems. It connects via USB 3.1 (and is also backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1), providing data transfer speeds of 294Mbps (Read) and 319Mbps (Write).
It has a Common Criteria EAL4+ ready, on-board secure microprocessor to act as the random number generator and provide the encryption keys for securing the data. iStorage calls its encryption EDGE Technology—with EDGE being an acronym for Enhanced Dual Generating Encryption. It has a FIPS PUB 197 validated AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption engine.
You access the unit by setting up a unique 7 to 15-digit PIN. It has an unattended auto-lock feature to set it to automatically time out and lock after a specified period of time, and you can set a self-destruct PIN which will delete the encryption key and all assigned PINS and create a new encryption key to ensure nobody can access the data.
It is also designed to be tamper proof—both physically and digitally. Attempts to physically open the device and access the SSD inside will most likely result in permanent physical damage. Likewise, brute force attacks to crack the PIN will trigger a lockdown mode as well. After a preset number of failed PIN attempts, the unit will delete the encryption key and lock itself—effectively erasing all data on the device forever to protect it from unauthorized access.
According to iStorage, “In plain and simple terms, without the PIN there’s no way in!”
The device I tested out is a 1TB model. That is a pretty good amount of data to be carrying around on a portable storage device—possibly even overkill for many purposes. A 2TB or 4TB unit could be used as a very secure form of backing up data or an entire computer and then storing in a safe or fireproof box or something.
One of the first things that happened right out of the box is that the carrying case broke. The first time I tried to put the diskAshur Pro 2 SSD in the carrying case, the zipper broke. It wasn’t a big deal to me, since I didn’t really want to use the case anyway, but something to consider if that case is important to you for some reason.
Accessing the Admin mode on the device and setting a PIN was relatively simple. However, it is by no means intuitive. It is easy enough following the directions from the manual, but it isn’t the sort of thing you would just figure out by looking at the device. There are only so many keys to work with on the unit, so it relies on various combinations of keys to access or enable different functions.
Data transfer speeds are fast—as advertised. I used it to hold my entire digital music and digital movie collections, so I could carry those with me without using up the precious storage space on my Surface Pro. It’s just under 600Mb of data in all, and I was able to copy all of it over to the diskAshur Pro 2 SSD in a reasonable amount of time.
One issue I ran into is that it kept timing out too fast. With the capability enabled, it is designed to automatically lock after a pre-determined span of idle time that you can set from 5 to 99 minutes. No matter how many times I set the unattended auto-lock for a longer period of time, however, it kept locking out after just a few minutes.
I contacted iStorage about the problem, and they explained that it was a known issue specifically with Windows 10. They provided me with a Powershell script that solved the problem.
The diskAshur Pro 2 SSD is compact. It is fast. It can hold a lot of data (depending on the model you get). And, it stores that data securely—virtually guaranteeing that nobody can access the data without proper authorization. Based on all of those criteria, I recommend this device.
My one caveat is price. The diskAshur Pro 2 SSD is only available from one supplier in the United States according to the iStorage website: Dataway Security. Dataway offers the 128GB model starting at $266, all the way up to the 4TB version for a whopping $2,728. The 1TB model I tested costs $825 from Dataway.
If you want virtually impenetrable security, though, you will have to pay the premium. There are smaller and lighter SSD storage devices available. There are significantly cheaper portable SSD storage devices out there. There are even other portable SSD storage devices that offer varying levels of encryption available at a lower price than the diskAshur Pro 2 SSD. If you need to transport data securely, though—and you want true peace of mind that the data is safe—perhaps you should invest the extra money to get the diskAshur Pro 2 SSD.
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