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iStorage DiskAshur2 HDD (1TB)

So, you’re beholden to live in a time when terabytes of information can live on a expostulate that rides in your pocket?

Not so fast.

Sure, it can be a outrageous benefit. You can simply accumulate your movies, music, spreadsheets, and vacation slideshows for present entrance over USB. It’s also a outrageous risk vector, though: Those terabytes are during a forgiveness of a chairman holding your expostulate during a moment. Depending on what’s on it, it could be a information homogeneous of a live grenade with a pin half-out.

Thumb drives, unstable tough drives, and outmost SSDs all have a same vulnerability. All someone needs to do to take your information is squeeze a expostulate and block it into a computer. Now, many normal users will be some-more dissapoint about losing their iTunes libraries or pet photos, than disturbed about what someone competence do with them. (Unless, of course, they don’t wish crony or rivalry to see their Katy Perry MP3 collection or dorky family photos.) But for people with supportive information to store, confidence is a genuine concern—one on that a client’s finances or your career hangs in a balance. That’s where iStorage’s gear, and products like it, come in.

iStorage diskAshur2 (With Box)

The U.K. company’s DiskAshur2 is a unstable tough expostulate directed during those with serious confidence needs. The expostulate comes with a keypad built into a face; to entrance a information stored on a drive, we contingency initial enter a seven- to 15-digit passcode. (The expostulate uses an AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption engine to keep your information secure). You can change a passcode as mostly as we want, and it’s comparatively elementary to do. (Just be certain to follow a in-box instructions closely.) And with capacities from 500GB all a approach adult to 5TB, a drives should come in one distance or another usually right for you, either we usually wish a secure backup of your mechanism or we need to transcribe lots of supportive photos and videos. Maybe it’s taxation returns; maybe it’s HIPAA-protected medical records; maybe it’s crime-scene justification that simply cannot be leaked. Maybe it’s a MIDI files for a harmony you’ve been operative on for a final dual years.

Know that with this drive, we will compensate a premium—a big one—for this earthy confidence layer. But for some people, a assent of mind will be value it. Indeed, distant some-more competence hinge on that confidence than a tiny dollar cost of one of these drives. And we have to admit: Any expostulate with a “self-destruct” underline gets to direct a few additional bucks. 

Design Features

The DiskAshur2 comes in 6 capacities. We tested a 1TB version, that was offered on Newegg.com and a few other sellers for around $210 during this writing. The other capacities are 500GB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, and 5TB, with a lowest of these during around $170, and a top nearby $475. iStorage also offers SSD-based versions, called DiskAshur2 SSD. (More on those nearby a finish of this review.)

The many apparent earthy underline of a iStorage DiskAshur2 is a numeric keypad on a front…

iStorage diskAshur2 (Keypad)

It looks like a phone dialing pad. The keypad facilities a numbers 0 to 9 (with phone-style letter-cluster equivalents), a tighten and transparent button, and a change pivotal (the one with a adult arrow). The inclusion of a change pivotal is interesting, since it allows we to boost vastly the probable array of confidence PINs. (“Shift+1,” for example, is deliberate opposite from usually “1.”) In addition, since a numbered keys have a minute clusters on them (just like on an aged flip or dial phone), we can enter your passcode in a form of a word or disproportion that competence be easier to remember.

The front face also has a gloomy iStorage trademark and 3 LEDs. The lights prove when a device is sealed or unlocked, and also yield a visible assist to assistance with a changing of passwords.

The DiskAshur2 comes in a choice of 4 colors (blue, black, red, or green). A box enclosed in a box helps strengthen your investment; remember, after all, this is still a tough drive, and extreme thumps or other mishap won’t offer it well. The USB wire to bond a DiskAshur2 to your mechanism is tethered to a expostulate itself, permanently, and it tucks into a side when not in use…

iStorage DiskAshur (1TB)

While this pattern prevents we from losing a cable, this means that a wire contingency be brief to fit in a expostulate perimeter. It’s usually 4 inches long, and as a outcome we have to keep a expostulate very tighten to a USB pier to use it. That could be a problem for some desktop-computer users, depending on where those USB ports are located. In some situations, we could see how it competence be forced to hook from a front-facing USB pier on a tower, with no probable support. Not great; we competence wish to get a USB prolongation cable, in that case.

iStorage diskAshur2 (Cable)

However, if we are deliberation purchasing a DiskAshur2, most likely this will not be a understanding breaker for you, since we are some-more meddlesome in a confidence facilities that this expostulate provides. Let’s get into those.

Security Features

The genuine offered indicate of this expostulate is a set of built-in confidence features. For starters, when we block a DiskAshur2 into a computer, a red “lock” LED will shine, and a expostulate will not mountain in your OS. To make a expostulate seem to a OS (not to mention, to be means to demeanour during or change a contents), we need to punch your passcode into a keypad and strike a transparent button.

iStorage diskAshur2 (Front View)

Every expostulate comes with a default formula that we can (and should) change later. It’s supposing in a tiny instruction booklet, enclosed in a box with a drive. Only after unlocking a expostulate will it uncover adult as a expostulate letter, and can we perspective a files on it or manipulate what’s on a drive. Note that a expostulate itself is home, during slightest until we purify it, to a many some-more in-depth manual.

Once a expostulate is unlocked, it functions like any other unstable tough drive. You can duplicate files to and from a drive, undo files, and a like. However, before we go and purify off a expostulate before initial use, we strongly advise duplicating a digital instruction primer to your computer. It contains many some-more information about your DiskAshur2 expostulate than a prospectus does.

One such bit of useful information is how to change a admin cue on your drive. That’s a pivotal initial step to securing your expostulate properly. We won’t fact a whole routine here, in a seductiveness of both confidence and brevity, yet it is several stairs prolonged and involves dire a buttons on a expostulate in opposite combinations before entering your new confidence PIN. The instructions do a good pursuit of explaining a process, including revelation we what a LEDs on a expostulate physique should be doing if we are following a stairs correctly.

If, during any point, we notice that a lights are not flashing a approach they should be, we need to press a tighten symbol and start a routine over. This happened to us a few times during testing, until we got a hang of it. Here is where carrying a readout of some kind on a front face, however crude, would have been helpful. Whenever altering a cue did not work, we could never be certain if it was since we pulpy a wrong button, or if a expostulate usually did not like a new password. (For example, it will not concede certain easy-to-guess entries, such as “1234567.”) Still, we did get it to work consistently after a few tries, and after that, any new formula worked yet a hitch.

You will need your admin formula to change roughly anything on your drive, including a facilities described below. Should we desire, we can emanate a separate user PIN that can also transparent a drive, yet not concede a user to change any of a settings on your DiskAshur2.

You can also set a DiskAshur2 to tighten itself after a certain duration of inactivity, anywhere from 60 seconds to 99 minutes. (This underline can be disabled, as well.) The confidence advantages of this underline should be obvious. After all, who among us has never left a expostulate of some kind plugged in for hours and walked divided from a computer? With this feature, we can have a assent of mind that after a certain volume of inactivity, a expostulate will tighten itself, gripping intensity snoopers outside.

The final confidence underline is a one that intrigued us most: a “self-destruct” feature. You can trigger self-destruct yourself or set it to occur underneath certain conditions. We hoped it would make a expostulate disintegrate in a twist of chemical smoke, Mission:Impossible style, yet alas it’s reduction dramatic. Triggering it will simply purify all on a drive, including your passcodes, in invisible fashion. Still, make certain we implement this underline only when we unequivocally meant to reset a drive.

We would like to emanate another accessible sign that we should save a instruction primer locally on your computer, so that we can figure out how to finish resetting your expostulate after a wipe. The DiskAshur2 contingency be formatted before it can be used again, around a array of button-presses on a keypad before entering your self-destruct PIN. You’ll need to see a instructions to do it. The same wish that we had with courtesy to changing your transparent cue relates here, as well: carrying a tiny arrangement would assistance a lot, to news errors in your keying-in process. That said, a instructions are really clear, so even if we fat-finger it a few times, we will spike it eventually.

Once a formula is set, triggering a self-destruct is really easy. Simply press a transparent key, enter a self-destruct code, and press transparent again. Instant expostulate wipeout. Note that a self-destruct also can be executed by entering your cue incorrectly 15 times (to safeguard opposite brute-force attacks), or by holding down certain buttons on a expostulate for a few seconds. The array of ways we can purify this expostulate emphasizes a fact that many users don’t need this turn of confidence (at slightest not for something like storing a multimedia collection). On a other hand, people who hoop supportive information will conclude meaningful that they can scorched-earth it in a twinkling if they no longer need it—say, if rivalry agents are shutting in.

Performance Testing

We ran a few of a storage benchmarks on a iStorage DiskAshur2, yet we didn’t (and advise we don’t) obsess over a results. Although on a benchmarks the DiskAshur2 lagged behind a other unstable tough drives in a comparison set, if you’re deliberation this drive, it isn’t for a speed.

We began with Anvil’s Storage Utilities, a fake exam that combines examination and write operations to arrive during a combination score.

iStorage diskAshur2 (Anvil)

The DiskAshur2 lagged behind all a other drives in a exam set by a poignant domain here. As we said, though, a offered indicate of this expostulate is a confidence features, not a muted speed.

We use a subsequent test, Crystal DiskMark, to magnitude both pointless and consecutive read/write performance. We’ll news usually a consecutive tests here.

iStorage diskAshur2 (Crystal DiskMark)

Once again, a DiskAshur2 finished last, nonetheless this time a opening between it and a next-fastest expostulate was many smaller, some-more along a lines of 10 percent.

Finally, Futuremark’s PCMark 8, that simulates real-world applications trimming from videoconferencing to spreadsheeting, is a at-a-glance benchmark we use when contrast PCs. Its Storage subtest simulates not usually capability apps yet tasks such as loading renouned games, if we were to run them off a expostulate in question.

iStorage diskAshur2 (PCMark 8)

Here, a DiskAshur2 wasn’t distant behind some of a competition, and it even kick out a Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC (1TB), another security-minded unstable tough drive. Don’t tatter too many about these results, though; contingency are, we won’t notice many of a disproportion in information send times yet a stopwatch, anyway, and few of us would use an outmost expostulate like this as a program-file repository.


The iStorage DiskAshur2 is a specialized drive, and that’s reflected in a pricing. Its built-in confidence facilities competence interest to anyone who is endangered about information security, yet a high pricing creates this expostulate tough to advise to an normal consumer. The 1TB chronicle we tested was on sale for $230 on Newegg.com during a time we published this review, while double-capacity 2TB versions of common Seagate and WD unstable tough drives were reduction than $100 each.

This drive, rather, is designed to be a profitable item to those who work with supportive information and need to safeguard a insurance Government workers, law-enforcement personnel, diplomats, financial pros: For them, a cost of a expostulate during whatever ability will be vaporous to a turn of earthy security.

And confidence facilities a DiskAshur2 has in droves. The confidence PIN compulsory to entrance a data, a autolock feature, and a self-destruct functionality are all well-thought-out and implemented—although, again, a PIN-code readout of some kind would have been helpful. This, a poky performance, and a brief wire length were a categorical complaints about a pattern of a drive. On a upside, we did conclude a inclusion of a case, and a primer was easy to understand. 

iStorage diskAshur2 (Box)

Now, a expostulate did not perform quite good in a benchmarks, as unstable tough drives go. But while that is not a offered indicate of this drive, it could matter if you’ll be duplicating vast files on and off with good frequency. If that’s a case, demeanour toward a expostulate like iStorage’s SSD versions of a DiskAshur2 (they come in capacities from a medium 128GB to a extravagantly costly 4TB flavor), or a SSD versions of Apricorn’s Aegis Fortress or Padlock drives and Fantom Drives’ DataShield. (The final was reviewed during a sister site, PCMag.com; strike a link.) Secure outmost SSDs like these tend to have eye-bugging prices during any given capacity, yet know that an outmost SSD will also be distant reduction exposed to random drops or damage. An unpretentious self-destruct feature, after all, with any platter-based tough drive? Simply spike it onto a tough building or petrify vigourously enough.

To a eyes, then, a hard-drive-based DiskAshur2 justifies itself especially for niche cases: You need limit confidence cost regardless, yet also a big-enough ability that usually a tough expostulate can get we for a non-four-figure price. For infrequent users, a cost would need to come down a garland before we could whole-heartedly advise a DiskAshur2. The people for whom it’s a good buy will be a ones carrying around state secrets or career-crucial pieces and bytes. Your cat photos will be improved served by a cheaper expostulate with simpler, software-based cue protection.


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