iStorage-UK diskAshur 2 1TB Encrypted Hard Drive Review

Securing Your External Data…

Keeping your data safe from the outside world can sometimes be of critical priority. The price of it can often make people wonder if it is worth it. Now you no longer have to have such fears, as encrypted storage is getting more and more affordable as time goes on. We are looking at another of iStorage-UK’s devices which comes in the flavor of a diskAshur 2 with a 1TB hard drive enclosed.

Having recently reviewed the 32GB datAshur Pro flash drive, it was time to review something with substantial more storage available. In light of that, we are very fortunate to have received a 1TB hard drive for those of you that have mass storage requirements.

The diskAshur 2 comes with AES-XTS 256-bit full-disk encryption, which is hardware based. iStorage have developed a Enhanced Dual Generating Encryption – EDGE – security system which you can learn about here. The encryption key is randomly generated and protected by FIPS validated wrapping algorithms.

The rapid USB 3.1 interface also allows for up to 5 Gbps transfers, though this is a hard drive and is therefore limited to around 148/140 MBps read/writes respectively. If you need the ultimate transfer rates, we’ve got something for you very soon. That’s all I am saying on the matter…

The diskAshur 2 has capacities ranging from 500GB through to 5TB giving you a large range of options. You can see more in the specs below if you are interested in their exact storage breakdowns.

How does it stop hackers or thieves?

As always, there are multiple protection protocols instated on the drive, such as its brute force defense mechanism. If you happen to insert your pin incorrectly ten times, you will be locked out of the drive and require an admin pin to unlock it. Should you happen to get it incorrect a further five times, your data will forever be lost. It does this by assuming that the drive is being attacked and therefore deleting the encryption key.

All diskAshur 2 drives, whether they’re SSD or HDD based have a self destruct feature. In order to initialize this, you first have to set it up with a pin of your choosing. This nukes the data, encryption key and pins into orbit. Once it’s done, it will create a new encryption key so that it is ready to be passed on to the next user or to be recycled if that’s where it is going.

One final noteworthy feater is the fact that it is nigh impossible to break into the drive without destroying it. iStorage have created a tamper proof design that covers the drive in order to discourage any disk brutality.

Specifications

Capacity500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB & 5TB
Data Transfer SpeedUp to: Read 148 MBps / Write 140 MBps
RPM5400
Buffer Size8MB
Power SupplyBus Powered
Dimensions (W, D, H)124 mm x 84 mm x 19 mm (500GB,1TB,2TB)| 124 mm x 84mm x 27mm (3TB,4TB,5TB)
Weight500GB/1/2TB max. 216 grams approx. | 3/4/5TB max. 325 grams approx.
ApprovalsFIPS PUB 197 Validated, FCC, CE, RoHS, WEEE, TAA Compliant
InterfaceSuper Speed USB 3.1 – up to 5Gbps. Backward compatible with USB 3.0/2.0/1.1
Operating System CompatibilityMS Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome, Thin Clients, Zero Clients, Android & Embedded Systems
Hardware Data EncryptionReal-Time Military Grade AES-XTS 256-bit Full-Disk Hardware Encryption
Warranty2 Years
iStorage Part NumberIS-DA2-256-xxxx-xx   (xxxx-xx = Capacity and Colour) B = Phantom Black:  BE = Ocean Blue:  R = Fiery Red:  GN = Racing Green:
Box ContentsPortable Hard Drive, Protective Carry Case, QSG (Quick Start Guide)

Packaging

The packaging is bright, sleek, informative and illustrative. It’s a great combination that is sure to stand out from the rest. On the front, there are its key selling points and a clear image of the product under the iStorage logo.

The features are covered in greater depth on the back of the packaging, and in no less than five different languages too.

Inside the exterior packaging is a plain white box. It’s not the most riveting thing to open, but it’s only there to serve a purpose.

The goodies are kept within this box, and that’s what we are all interested in. Within the bubble wrap sits a pouch, and within said pouch sits the drive.

A Closer Look

That fiery red sure looks pretty when it’s sitting in the black carrier pouch, doesn’t it?

There is a USB 3.1 cable that attaches directly into the drive, and cannot be removed. It sits snug in a channel during transportation, and also clips into its designated spot as seen in the image above (bottom right).

The back of the drive features a label detailing what the drive is. The fiery red color scheme is of course present on both sides of the drive.

You will receive a license for Nero BackItUp as well as a warranty card and the user manual to get you started. Also within shot is the aforementioned carrier pouch that unfortunately only comes in black. Maybe this will change one day…

Let’s get into some performance metrics. We’ll see if this mighty encryption warrior has what it takes to be in your carrier bag.

Performance

In our previous review of the datAshur Pro 32GB flash drive, we found some strange throughput results when it was initially tested. However, we are glad to report that there is no anomaly to report with the diskAshur 2 1TB hard drive. We tested two scenarios, a 1GB test file and a 32GB test file. The results speak for themselves. Numbers show that the drive is very capable given that it is only a 5400 RPM spinning platter.

To quote the specs: “Up to: Read 148 MBps / Write 140 MBps” is somewhat an underestimate of what the drive is truly capable of. The 32GB test actually makes it closer to the quoted numbers whilst still exceeding expectations. As you can see, the tests ran five times (in a row) and this is the average of those five runs – no funky trickery going on here.

Conclusion

If keeping data safe is the utmost importance, then you definitely don’t want to have to wait for an eternity for your data to back up. Thankfully, with the diskAshur 2 1TB hard drive, the read and write speeds are actually really good and above specs as well. The quoted numbers for throughput are for sequential data only, and are significantly lower when writing smaller files.

From a cost to performance or storage ratio, it is very high for the amount of storage you get. However, the cost of the encryption hardware and development isn’t going to be cheap. That’s why you will always pay more for your data security. Given that this is a 1TB drive for $250 (US), it’s not totally unreasonable, but it will be a sticking point for many that will be weighing up their options.

The design and durability of the diskAshur product line is unquestionably good. There is no way to open this drive without serious damage to the internal components. After consulting the manual, it became apparent that you are not meant to be able to get into the drive. It’s another of iStorage-UK’s safety features going one step further to protecting your data.

Award Time!

The diskAshur 2 1TB (and other storage capacities) has the speed, design, protection and encryption you’re looking for. Given that they are not the only ones on the market, I feel that they have for that reason earned themselves an award. They are definitely one I would thoroughly recommend

There are caveats, and the biggest one is going to be its price at ~$270 US; but what is on the table is a great device for those always on the go with company sensitive data. Protecting your data with XTS-AES 256-bit class security doesn’t come cheap. There are some cheaper brands/devices on the market, but your data security shouldn’t be risked for the sake of a couple of bucks. I’m a firm believer in spending once and doing the job right over buying cheap and buying twice (potentially).

It is therefore with great pleasure that I am awarding the diskAshur 2 1TB HDD from iStorage-UK with our great function award and a great style award as it looks oh so good.

HWHounds Great Function AwardHWHounds Great Style Award

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