13th August 2010
By John E Dunn | Techworld
Published: 11:34 GMT, 13 August 10
The portable hard drive with PIN keypad entry and no drivers.
Pros: PIN feature is conceptually simple and works well
Cons: Make sure the PIN is long and random enough
Available in 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption versions, the pull of the diskG* is its admirable simplicity. There are no drivers to load, simply an ATM-like PIN key interface built into the black, rubberised, shock-absorbing shell of the drive itself. The interface has 12 physical keys and one status light which changes color according to the drive mode, locked (red), unlocked (green) and admin (blue).
There is nothing more to say about it externally other than note that the built-in USB cable that wraps around the side of the unit is slightly on the short side. An extension cable is provided for such situations, which doubles to provide power if your USB port can’t supply the necessary power.
The first setup task is to enter a new PIN, which involves entering admin mode and entering a new PIN. Once the PIN has been confirmed a second time, that PIN is needed to access the contents of the drive from there on. User PINs can be from 6 to 16 digits, and in admin mode up to 10 can be set per drive (plus the admin) which means that it can be used securely across a number of users.
The diskG* comes in a variety of capacities and with cheaper 128-bit or more expensive 256-bit AES encryption; the 500GB with 128-bit encryption costs around £115 (approx $180) while the same capacity with 256-bit AES costs around £160 inc. VAT. Consumers are highly unlikely to need anything beyond the 128-bit version given that the lesser security it provides is largely theoretical.
An SSD version is also available but this cuts capacity while increasing cost. You really have to want the speed to pay for this.
PIN idea is clever and works without drivers. Modestly priced.