The USB stick market has matured to the point where companies now offer some interesting solutions with specific features.
One rather hot issue is that of security, especially when it comes to the data we all carry in our USB sticks. There are several software solutions based on encryption, but most of them have been found to be either incomplete or not very user friendly. Moreover, they require the use of special software, meaning it limits the data exchange between different platforms and operating systems. Corsair has a new solution for such needs, in the form of their "Flash PadLock".
- Corsair Flash Padlock
Corsair’s Flash Padlock gives users the confidence of having a hardware-secured lock to protect their data on a USB drive. Featuring auto-lock hardware security, Flash Padlock is the best way to secure your data while on the go. This prevents any unauthorized access or “Brute Force” attack to the data on Flash Padlock. Users can program in a PIN, much like they do for an ATM machine, to lock and unlock their data. An easy to use keypad in conjunction with lock/unlock indicator lights, makes the Flash Padlock highly intuitive to use. Lastly, the Flash Padlock is fully plug-and-play, and requires no software or drivers to work properly.
- Auto-Locking – Self locking after removal from computer
- Customizable PIN – Set your own PIN and make it easy to remember
- Easy to Use – Direct keypad access and indicator lights make locking/unlocking simple
- Plug and Play – Hardware based security works without installing or running software
- Platform independent – Works on Windows, MAC and Linux platforms without the use of software
Corsair provided us with the Flash Padlock 2GB version. The USB stick is well protected in a plastic shell. Users can find the Corsair Flash PadLock at the retail price of US$34.99 - $39.99 (+shipping) as found at several online stores.
Apart from the USB drive (with internal 3V lithium battery installed), also included are:
- A users manual
- a USB extension cable
- and a lanyard.
Opening the package gives us a closer look at the USB module:
On the front, there are buttons with the digits 0 to 9 and the lock/unlock functions:
The basic idea behind Corsair's Flash Padlock is to hardware lock the device with a PIN number that needs to be keyed in before gaining access. There are 10 digits available (0-9) for creating the PIN. Corsair offers you the option of storing the PIN on their web site so you can retrieve it if you forget it. As Corsair warns, if the PIN is lost, there is no way to retrieve it, so be careful...
Removing the protective cap:
The Flash PadLock ships unlocked with AutoLock disabled. In order to secure your data, there are five steps that take more or less around half a minute to complete. The buttons are big and easy to push. After the pin is entered, the Flash Padlock will auto lock. After that, you cannot access your data, and Windows won't recognize it unless you unlock it. You need to key in the PIN and unlock the Flash PadLock to gain access. As a last note, the stick supports Window's ReadyBoost. When the Corsair Flash PadLock works, it has two operating LEDs, indicating the read/write functions and the lock/unlock status.
We fired up HD Tach v18.104.22.168 and set it for the full bench test that will put the USB stick through its paces:
The full bench test, scans the entire capacity of the device, and graphs its average reading/writing performance:
The performance is very good, considering the target group of the Corsair Flash PadLock. We had 29MB/sec average reading and 11MB/sec average writing performance.
Corsair's Flash Padlock should be appealing to many users, since there are many professional as well as everyday users for whom security is a major concern. While most other solutions are software based, with shortcomings and limitations, this hardware solution from Corsair promises greater security. The retail price of the Corsair Flash Padlock is around US$35, not much higher than a standard 2GB USB stick. The read performance was very good with 30MB/sec, while writing was much slower at 11MB/sec.
If we had to complain about something, it is the dimensions of this USB stick. Compared with standard USB sticks, this is a little on the large side. This can be excused when we consider that there is extra circuitry required, but at least it will secure your data, like no-other currently sold product.