With the kind of information people carry around on their computers these days, from sensitive personal information to all kinds of financial records, as well as business documents that you probably shouldn’t have on your laptop, security has never been more important. Keeping your most important documents under lock and key has never been particularly easy or reliable on computers, especially for people who need to access the files from a number of different machines, but StarTech.com’s 2.5in Encrypted Portable hard Drive Enclosure aims to make these issues a thing of the past.
Looking like a bog standard external 2.5in hard drive from afar, this USB powered device actually has a lot more about it – it actually protects all the data stored on the drive so that it can’t be accessed by anyone who doesn’t have your password, which is entered using the 12 button interface adorning the top of the enclosure.
Truth be told, there’s not a huge amount to this device, so it’s going to live or die on the strength of its reliability and usability. We’ll start by taking a look at the former first. In the box you get the enclosure itself, a USB to proprietary input cable, a USB to power input cable (which is only necessary if your machine’s USB interface doesn’t provide the device with sufficient power through the first connection), a mini screwdriver and some screws to secure your hard drive in place and a surprisingly jargon-free manual.
Setting the device up is a piece of cake. The manual’s step by step format clearly guides you through the procedure, advising you when particular caution needs to be taken, and letting you know about anything you may have been unsure of. Unfortunately, hard drives used with the device will need to be initialised before you’re able to utilise the password protection, so those of you hoping to secure existing volumes will first need to make a complete backup of all the data on your drive, before initialising, running through the setup using the device’s built-in LCD display, and then running a quick format of the drive to make sure that everything’s running properly.
With this in mind, it very quickly becomes apparent that this isn’t something that should be used as an additional storage drive. In fact, the product documentation goes so far as to recommend against this, instead suggesting that the drive is only used as a secure backup medium, and warning that a hardware failure from the enclosure or the drive will result in your data being unrecoverable. That’s obviously the last thing you want to hear when it comes to keeping your most precious documents safe, but it’s remarkably frank and responsible from StarTech.com, which much be applauded.
If you’re happy enough to accept the risks, minor and all as they are (it’s worth noting that the enclosure is covered by a 2 year extended warranty, if that brings you any additional peace of mind), then this is actually a great little device. As we said, set up is nice and easy, and you’ll be able to add in additional information like a contact name and phone number that’ll scroll across the enclosure’s display informing people of you are and how you can be reached should you lose your device. Additional information available via the display includes drive operating temperature, which is handy to keep an eye on every now and then to give you an idea of any forthcoming issues that may be hiding around the corner.
Those of you looking at this as a way to supplement your existing storage need look elsewhere, and to be honest there are much less expensive solutions available for anyone simply looking for a drive enclosure, but if you run a business or just want to keep your own personal files stored away safely, where they can’t be seen by prying eyes, then the StarTech.com 2.5in Encrypted Portable Hard Drive Enclosure is a fine option. It’s USB 3.0 compatible, works with any 2.5in SATA II hard drive up to 9.5mm high, has been tested on drives up to 1TB in size (we used a 640GB drive), and it’s compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008, Windows 7, Mac OSX and Linux.