Apricorn Aegis Padlock 750GB review
- Monday, March 14, 2011
Most notebooks and netbooks come with a hard drive that is simply too small. With our digital packrat mentality, let’s face it that 250 GB or 320 GB just does not cut it anymore. Clearly there is a need for storage expansion, however, there is always a danger of taking sensitive information onto a portable platform. Filling the need for such a device is the Aegis Padlock which offers increased hard drive space, and password level protection of the contents.
The drive itself is constructed from a durable plastic, and has a two tone semimetallic paint job. Integrated into the Padlock is a short USB cable. On the front of the Padlock is a numeric keypad, which has the number 0 to 9, and they are marked with letters as on a telephone. In addition, there are two keys: cancel, and unlock. There is also one LED which can display 3 colors: red, green and blue.
The Padlock is designed to work off of an Administrator Password, and User Passwords. When you first go to use the device, there is a default Administrator Password installed on it. This is then easily changed, and then the User Passwords can be setup. All of this is done via the device, and there is no software installed onto the computer, which makes this totally self contained security. Each password is from 6 to 16 digits.
The Padlock is USB powered, and is a USB 2.0 device. I used it on several different computers, including a Shuttle desktop, and an Acer CULV notebook (1830T). In all cases, the device had adequate power from the single USB port. In the possibility that the USB port is not providing enough power, the solution is to use the Y-cable, which provides the power off of 2 USB ports.
The Padlock also has an algorithm to deal with a brute force attack. For example, after 6 incorrect attempts at entering the password, the device will not accept anymore inputs, and will need to be unplugged and plugged in again to allow further inputs. But it does not stop with that. After 50 attempts that are unsuccessful, the entire drive needs to be reset further. In short, this drive is very secure, and nobody is getting into it uninvited. And if all else fails, there is a way to totally reset the drive, but the data all gets erased in the process. Yes, this thing is military grade security, and makes most removable storage look pretty unsecure.
So, if you disassemble it, and try to plug the drive directly in, that is a no go too. This is because all the data is automatically encrypted in either AES 128 or 256-bit encryption. Yes, they thought of that too. In case you were wondering, AES stands for the Advanced Encryption Standard. For the 256-bit encryption, it would require 2 to the 256th power of attacks, and apparently has not been successfully broken. Then again, while 128-bit encryption is theoretically “easier” to break, this has not been decrypted either as far as I could tell. Apparently for governmental use, SECRET info needs 128-bit, and TOP SECRET is 256-bit (cocktail party trivia.
The Aegis Padlock got run through HDTune. The average speed was 28.7 MB/s, with a maximum of 29.3 MB/s. Even with all this security, this was slightly faster than a Seagate Freeagent Pro drive. The 750 GB capacity gets formatted to 698 GB which is a serious amount of storage to just about everyone. There were no damaged sectors on the quality scan.
Overall, the Aegis Padlock is an excellent solution, offering a secure way to carry around large amounts of data. The top of the line 750 GB model goes for $199, but the 250 GB one starts at an affordable $89. In the end, that is pretty cheap for some peace of mind. It is backed by a one year warranty.