LaCie XtremKey all-terrain USB flash drive
Freeze it, cook it, dunk it, thump it
Review Data security can mean a lot of things, from encryption to defence against cyber attacks. There’s backing up and archiving too, but with the XtremKey, LaCie has in mind the idea that you might want to secure your data against the rough and tumble of everyday life. So if trouble follows you around, you can be assured your
torrents PowerPoint presentations will be safe.
Solid option: LaCie's XtremKey
Available in capacities from 8GB to 64GB, the XtremKey is more than just a rugged USB drive. It’s actually a capsule encased in 2mm thick zamac alloy. Designed by Constance Guisset, it not only has a minimalist industrial look to it, but can withstand the meanderings of a 10-ton truck.
Now if your list of likely misfortunes tends toward fire and flood, the XtremKey should survive these transgressions too. This screw-fit capsule is watertight to 100m and you can even cook it at gas mark 6 (200°C) if you’re keen on extremes. And in the current cold snap, the XtremKey, will chill out in temperatures dropping to -50°C. Keen to demonstrate its hardiness, LaCie has its own video of what it describes as “the world’s most adventurous flash drive”.
Now, just looking at the XtremKey I could go along with LaCie’s pronouncements, but a few environmental tests seemed in order and some performance ones too. LaCie claims that, apart from the 8GB model, this USB 2.0 drive is capable of 40MB/s read and 30MB/s write speeds.
Protect and survive
The video even shows it charting speeds approaching those levels. Yet the devil is in the detail. The test shown in the clip is done with Aja – a video performance utility configured to work on a 128MB file size. I tried it out on Aja with the same settings and also with the default CrystalDiskMark 3 configuration.
Next page: Performance tests
Will it blend?
Will it survive
Wash cycle 40 degrees plus a trip in the tumble drier, typical means of failure at home? Flames, because you don't have a washing machine symbol.
I can't say it's a bad product...
...but do you really need one?
I suppose that there are some people who can make use of a hardened USB key. Of course, then I'd have to say that there are probably better options. The LaCie of today is not what it used to be, and their product support isn't as good as it once was. As for the built in security, I wonder how well it holds up to something like TrueCrypt, which works on any old storage device, is considered a "proven" product and costs nothing?
I'm not sure you need a "hardened" key anyway. To wit:
Someone once came to me with an old (256MB, to give you an idea) PNY Attache USB memory key. You see, word got out long ago that I can fix about anything, predict the weather, or at least do a competent job of swearing at something that isn't working. Little plastic pegs held its circuit board in place, and they'd snapped off, allowing the USB connector to beat a hasty retreat every time an attempt was made to connect it. They gave it to me, in hopes that I could retrieve the data. It didn't take much, the thing was still electrically perfect. I popped its plastic case apart and connected the circuit board directly to a USB port. Bingo!
They were done with it and when I brought it back, they tossed it into the trash. I asked if I could have it, for I am a man who will not be stopped by trivial broken plastic pins.
And I have a glue gun.
So that's what I did. I put half of it together, packed it with molten glue and then put the other half on. It worked just fine. I've used it non-stop ever since...and it's been baked, frozen, dropped, thrown, zapped with static electricity on the USB connector shield, washed and dried several times and it keeps right on trucking. It goes almost everywhere I do. The contents are protected by TrueCrypt.
I make backups because I'm not stupid. It could fail at any time or get lost. But it hasn't, and I suspect that I will use it until it drops.
Freeze it, cook it, dunk it, thump it
Leave it on the train.
As you can imagine I'll bet it happened.
In fact, it happened to me.
I had a sandisk usb stick that went through the exact punishment you described and came out none worse for wear. Well not exactly the same punishment. Worse. It got pasteurised in a _hot_ wash actually, then baked in the tumble drier.
It still worked flawlessly but I duly copied the data out of it and subsequently condemned it as I figured the safest thing to do was not to trust it anymore with any important data since it had probably been in 'out-of-spec environs' for a good 2 hours or more.
(While I understand the actual silicon is fairly tolerant of what we would consider temperature extremes, I did not and still cannot make the same assumptions of the actual pcb, tracks, contacts, solder etc)