External Meets Encryption, SSD style…
When looking into the storage world, you’ll soon realize that SSDs will eventually take over as the default storage medium; it makes complete sense that we also have external SSDs that are becoming the norm. With that in mind, iStorage-UK is bringing us a super secure, encrypted SSD (solid state drive) that is targeted at the pros on the move with sensitive data that needs to be accessed rapidly; meet the diskAshur 2…
The diskAshur 2-SSD is essentially the same drive as the HDD version that we reviewed recently, but it comes with the added benefits of faster read and write speeds, along with the added benefit of no moving parts. The downside to the aforementioned benefits is its overall price. SSDs are still relatively expensive, and when you start getting into specialized usage cases such as encrypted storage, the price goes up a little bit more.
Covering the Basics
Given that this drive is essentially the same as the HDD version, I still believe it is a good idea to go over the array of offerings on the table. It features full-disk encryption that offers real-time, military-grade protection with AES-XTS 256-bit algorithms. It’s tamper proof, water and dust resistant (IP56), suffers no speed degradation through its USB 3.1 port, and has a few other certifications under its belt too. The most prominent of the certifications is the FIPS PUB 197 encryption algorithm – in short, it covers the hardware encryption that is used to protect the data.
You do not need any specialized software in order to access the drive, nor do you need to worry about OS compatibility as it works independently on any machine with a USB port.
In the event of your drive getting stolen, it offers self-destruct and drive reset features so that the thief cannot get whatever is on your drive. Coupled with the fact that it is brute force protected, the diskAshur 2 is also nigh on impossible to get into due to the aforementioned tamper proof design.
|Capacity||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB|
|Data Transfer Speed||Up to: Read 294 MBps / Write 319 MBps|
|Power Supply||Bus Powered|
|Dimensions (W, D, H)||124 mm x 84 mm x 20 mm|
|Weight||max. 180 grams approx.|
|Approvals||FIPS PUB 197 Validated, FCC, CE, RoHS, WEEE, TAA Compliant|
|Interface||Super Speed USB 3.1 – up to 5Gbps. Backward compatible with USB 3.0/2.0/1.1|
|Operating System Compatibility||MS Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome, Thin Clients, Zero Clients, Android & Embedded Systems|
|Hardware Data Encryption||AES-XTS 256-bit Hardware Encryption|
|iStorage Part Number||IS-DA2-256-SSD-xxxx-xx (xxxx-xx = Capacity and Colour) B = Black: BE = Blue: R = Red: GN = Green|
|Box Contents||Portable Solid State Drive, Protective Carry Case & QSG (Quick Start Guide)|
Hmmm… it appears that my puppy is intrigued by this strange box that’s on the photography area. It’s more or less the same exterior packaging that you’d find on other iStorage-UK products, but for completeness sake, it comes with an image (although not strictly representative of your color!) of the drive, and a few basic specs on the front of the box.
Flipping it over reveals five language options that cover some more of the specs that were mentioned in our intro.
A rather plain white box is what you’re greeted with next. That’s a total nonissue, though. It’s just packaging the drive and its accessories in the safest manor. There’s not too much point in making it pretty as you can’t see it on the shelf anyway.
This is where the interesting stuff starts to happen…
Upon further inspection, you can expect to find a pouch with the drive enclosed, a Nero BackItUp license offer and the basics to get you started with your new diskAshur 2 SSD. You’ll also receive a warranty information card, which is all available on their website.
A Closer Look
We opted for the black model for our SSD option instead of the fiery red that the HDD came in. It looks very sleek, and honestly, I am really on the fence as to which I prefer after having opened this. You can’t go wrong with any of the four colors in all honesty. They’re all pretty!
The USB 3.0 (3.1) cable comes out of the housing and gives a decent length to plug into your PC or laptop. It’s great how it also clips back into the drive so that you have next to no chance of destroying it in your travels. This is also of course where you’ll get your keypad. Sorry for the lighting, guys… it’s nigh on impossible to get a shot without light reflection.
On the reverse of the drive you’ll find information on your product such as its size and its assembly location. In case you weren’t aware, the drive is put together in the UK.
Let’s see how it performs! I’m hoping it’ll live up to the SSD hype!
To test the performance of each external drive, we generally run it through CrystalDiskMark which tests four key areas of any drive. It tests, as you can see below; the sequential speeds of regular sequential data, sequential with a queue depth of 32 as well as 4K Q32 and sequential 4K files. All of this gives us a good indication of how it performs in the real world.
We test both in a 1GB test file and 32GB test file as it can vary our results. However, that’s usually more of a drastic and noticeable difference on hard drives rather than SSDs
As you can see, the difference is negligible at best. Most of our results are within a margin of error.
Now that we have our performance figures, we can accurately compare it against the specs that iStorage provided us with. As you can see, the sequential Q32T1 results are the closest to their quoted specs of 294/319 MBps read/writes. However, when it is just purely sequential data, our data shows that the drive is capable of a good 30 to 60 MBps more. Now, of course, most of our data is going to be in smaller files and is unlikely to be sequential, but it is nice to see that the drive can perform better than expected.
Time to wrap up this insanely secure, encrypted external solid state drive. Does it command a premium? You betcha, it does! Is it worth it? Depends. Let’s see if it’s the right choice for you, and whether or not you should part with the best part of $600.
Before we dive into trying to justify or ridicule the price, let’s remember what you get in the package. It’s a world leader in terms of encrypted external storage, and it has some of the highest certifications available to the public. As a matter of fact, the certifications are good enough for military use, which should in theory be more than plentiful for us non-military personnel. Being protected from brute force attacks is also another strong seller for the diskAshur range of HDDs and SSDs.
The performance aspect is naturally something that we would have to discuss, and that we shall! As the drive goes through a USB 3.1 connection, you can expect a the best possible performance out of this particular drive. Although the throughput isn’t strictly the fastest out there, it is a great speed to obtain out of an encrypted drive. iStorage-UK promises there’s no speed loss, which we will take at their word.
Price, style and performance…
The design is superb as it is rugged, sturdy and simplistic. The tamper-proof qualities also add to the overall validation of its pricing, too.
Aside from its price at $600, I am finding it difficult to fault. I would’ve liked to see a faster SSD within the diskAshur 2, but beggars cannot be choosers – 300 MBps is still plenty fast enough for the vast majority of us.
With all of the above in mind, is the diskAshur 2 1TB SSD worthy of your money? That’s a really tough question to answer. $600 is a big pill to swallow for a single terabyte of storage. Granted, however, that not every device comes with the enhanced security of this particular drive. If you have the cash to spend, it’s worth it. If not, you’d be better off with the HDD instead.
I do feel that the diskAshur 2 is still worthy of an award or two. It’s a great product, albeit very expensive. It offers a sleek style and is also a must-have for those that can afford it and need to secure their on the go data. If you need a more affordable option, you should definitely check out the diskAshur 2 1TB HDD instead.
You can learn more about the diskAshur 2 1TB SSD from iStorage-UK here.