Sunday Post

May 2010

By Steven MacDiarmid

USB THUMB DRIVES are great for carrying around reports and essays or taking your favourite movies and tunes round to a pal’s house. Unfortunately they have limited storage capacity and can only be read and written to so many times before the memory chips inside become unreliable.

So what should you do if you have large amounts of stuff needing securely moved around or backed-up and want to be certain it will still be usable in six months?

You could do worse than try the diskG* from iStorage. This black box of tricks looks like a heavy-duty chips and PIN device with its rubberised case and keypad, but it is in fact an encrypted portable USB 2.0 hard drive.

And it really is encrypted. Your PC or Mac can access the drive only after you enter a numeric passkey using the rubberised buttons. Luckily you can change the default to one of your own between six and 16 digits because forget the magic number and you can’t get at your data ever again. Ouch.

Data stored on the diskG* is encrypted using a method used by the US government so without your passkey there’s no way to decrypt your data. On the upside, however, if it was ever lost or stolen, crooks couldn’t nose at your business, either.

Built in to the diskG*’s oddly tactile shell is a foldaway USB 2.0 cable. It doesn’t require a separate power connection, but if one of your system’s USB sockets can’t provide enough juice, a cable is provided so the drive can draw power from two USB sockets instead. The same cable also extends the miserly four-inch built-in lead.

One you’ve entered you passkey, the diskG* behaves just like any other USB hard disk. It reads and writes information speedily and without fuss, which is remarkable considering all the real-time data decryption and encryption going on.

The diskG* range comes in useful capacities, starting at 250 Gb up to 640 Gb. The entry model will set you back around £116, which is not much for peace of mind.

And that’s what the diskG* is all about, really. If you don’t need quite so much storage and have nothing you want to keep private or mind losing then a USB thumb drive is an economical choice.

In the real world, however, the diskG* is little short of a godsend.

Just don’t forget the passkey.