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MXI Outbacker MXP 40GB biometric hard drive

Serious security

Security for virtualized datacentres

MXI's approach is the more secure of the two, though it has its drawbacks. Each user's protected space is a partition in its own right, so adding more users means re-partitioning the drive. If you've left room, fine - if not, you'll have to zap whatever data existing users have placed on the drive to make room for the new user.

mxi security outbacker mxp 40gb biometric hard drive

Creating a new users is straightforward: give them a username and get them to enroll a fingerprint. You'll then need to adjust the drive partitions as necessary and, once the user has unlocked his or her space, format it. Like I say, all this 'multiple users, multiple partitions' approach may make for better security, but I prefer LaCie's 'multiple users one drive' system. It's so much easier to manage - surely a mobile drive is only likely to be used by one person in any case? I can imagine more customers wanting a mobile drive that restricts a single data-set to a small number of people, than a drive that assumes each users should only have secure access to his or her own data-set. This latter approach certainly makes sense for a fixed drive that's always connected to a network or a computer, but not a mobile unit.

Connecting the drive to a PC puts three drives in Windows' My Computer list: the public partition, the read-only partition containing the Access software, and third which is where any given user's unlocked space will appear. To unlock the drive on a Windows machine, you have to run Access Unlock - either an installed copy or the one on the drive. Unlike LaCie's software, touching the sensor or attempting to open the locked partition in the usual way doesn't invoke a 'please swipe your fingerprint' request. However, plugging the drive into my MacBook Pro - which is not supported by MXI's software - I found I was able to mount my own partition simply by swiping the sensor with a registered fingerprint.

Re-running Access Unlock simply tells you the drive is already unlocked. To lock it, you have to select the Lock option from the system tray icon's menu. Attempting to unlock a locked drive this way pops up an authentication request. You can either swipe your finger - if it's recognised the drive will automatically open the correct partition - or you can select your username and then swipe to open.

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