iStorage DiskAshur Pro2 Secure Portable Hard Drive REVIEW

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In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with your digital data. There are a lot of ways to keep it secure when it’s on your personal computer, but what about when you archive it off to a portable drive? Aside from encrypting your files, there isn’t much you can do unless you have a secure data storage device like the dishAshur PRO 2 SSD from iStorage.

This remarkable device is designed to keep your data ultra-secure through PIN authentication. PINs and encryption keys are always encrypted while the device is at rest and it’s water/dust resistant (IP-56 certified), but it’s by no means ‘proof’ so you won’t want to submerge it or bury it in a pile of dirt. The drive is built to be tough and is even tamper proof and tamper evident. The keypad is coated with epoxy and has a wear-resistant design. There is no special software required because the PIN pad is located right on the outside of the hard drive. The diskAshur Pro 2 uses real-time military grade AES-XTS 256-bit full-disk hardware encryption to secure its contents. It’s immune to BadUSB, has a desk lock slot included, and works on any device with a USB port (USB 3.1 integrated cable).

Some of its more advanced features include:

  • Common Criteria EAL4+ ready onboard secure microprocessor
  • FIPS PUB 197 Validated Encryption Algorithm
  • Brute Force Hack Defence Mechanism
  • No speed degradation — as fast as any non-encrypted USB 3.1 HDD
  • FIPS 140–2 Level 3, NCSC CPA (foundation level), Common Criteria & NLNCSA — Certifications all pending
  • Read-Only (Write Protect) & Read/Write modes
  • PIN authenticated — Supports Admin and User Independent PINs 7–15 digits in length
  • Self Destruct Feature
  • Drive Reset Feature for easy redeployment
  • Unattended Auto-Lock feature

The drive comes in a really nice branded box with a fairly detailed description of the product. When you open the box, you will find the drive resting inside a very nice semi-hard shell case and a quick start guide. The Quick Start Guide does just that — gets you started, but truth be told, there are a lot of different modes and functions that the diskAshur is capable of that isn’t covered in the quick start guide. Getting started is pretty easy. The hard drive is formatted as NTFS and if you have a Windows computer, you can plug it in, unlock it using the default admin code (found in the quick start guide) to start copying your files onto it. If you have a Mac though, like I do, you have to go through a reformatting step first.

Once you unlock the hard drive, it’s pretty much just a hard drive. iStorage provides the diskAshur Pro 2 in three sizes — 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. I had the 1TB version, which is ideal for ensuring that my most private materials stay secure. To test out the speed of the drive, which has an average top transfer speed of 5 Gbps with its USB 3.1 super speed connection, I transferred a file that is 16.3 GB in size. Because I have a 2016 MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar, I had to use a Thunderbolt 3 dock to connect to my USB-C ports. The USB-A ports on the dock are USB 3.0 so a solid connection was provided. I was able to transfer the file in 2 minutes and 44 seconds. To me, that was impressive because I had just transferred that same file to a USB 3.0 drive and it took nearly six and half minutes.

In addition to the file transfer test, I also ran a Blackmagic Speed Test with a stress of 5GB. The results are included in the image below.

One of the features I was most curious about with the diskAshur was the Brute Force Hack mechanism. A brute force attack is when someone tries to break a code or password by just guessing at random or trying different options that might work. The diskAshur Pro 2 allows you 15 tries before you are completely locked out and all the data is erased and lost forever. We don’t recommend you do this as a test unless you are willing to lose all the contents of the drive. According to the manual, which you can view/download on iStorage’s website: If an incorrect PIN is entered 15 (3 x 5 PIN clusters) consecutive times, then all Admin/User PINs, the encryption key, and all data will be deleted and lost forever. The diskAshur PRO2 will then need to be formatted and partitioned before it can be reused.

Technically speaking, after 5 attempts, you have to enter a special code in order to access the drive for 5 additional tries. Then after 10 total tries, you have to enter another special mode on the drive for 5 final attempts. We did do this as a test and can say that the drive did erase as it was supposed to. Once a brute force has been attempted and failed, you have to reset the admin password and then reformat the drive in order to use it again. I really love this feature because I could see a brute force hack attempt on a drive like this quite easily. All it would take is for you to leave it out in plain sight and someone to decide that they wanted to access your data.

I am a firm believer in securing your data. I love using cloud-based storage, but sometimes, having a portable drive that is 100% secure, like the diskAshur Pro 2 is a valuable commodity. If you are an office manager or even an accountant, storing client files on a drive like this is a great option. The only suggestion I have for iStorage is to include the full manual in the box. I really found myself at a loss when I was trying to set it up and learn all about it when I didn’t have the manual in front of me. I was able to find it easily online (the link is included below) and it was included as a PDF on the drive itself, but having it included in the box would be really nice.

If you are in the market for a secure storage, the diskAshur Pro 2 is a really great option for protection.

For more information, visit
diskAshur Pro 2 Manual
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Originally published at on July 25, 2017.

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