In the words of Han Solo: It might not look like much, but it's got it where it counts. The Aegis Padlock DT, a beefy USB 3.0 hard drive from Apricorn, lacks the sleekness of such portable drives as the Seagate GoFlex Turbo and Iomega eGo. Still, this $289 2TB drive promises to protect your data with 256-bit encryption, anti-tampering features and a numeric keypad. Is the extra security worth the money?
The Aegis Padlock DT certainly lives up to its name -- with its boxy frame, heavy 2.6-pound weight and large keypad, the drive looks like the security lock on a reinforced titanium door. The device measures 7.2 x 4.5 x 1.5 inches, making it almost 2 inches longer and half an inch thicker than the LaCie Rugged Mini, the largest drive we recently reviewed. Then again, Apricorn calls this a desktop drive -- and not a portable -- for a reason.
Encased in an aluminum heat-dissipating enclosure, a vent runs the length of the bottom, while the power switch, AC port, USB 3.0 port and a Kensington lock slot can be found on the side. The top features a numeric keypad and a display with icons that let the user know if the drive is locked, unlocked or in Admin Mode.
Sadly, the Padlock DT requires an external power source, unlike the ThinkPad USB 3.0 Secure Hard Drive.
Setup and Utilities
Besides setting up a personal identification number, the Aegis Padlock DT does not require any additional installation; simply plug the drive into your notebook, enter the default PIN, and start transferring files. Although the drive asks for a PIN the first time you plug it in, the default PIN (123456) is easy to remember. Apricorn suggests changing your PIN the first time you use the drive.
While the lack of an automatic backup utility is understandable on a drive such as the Aegis Padlock DT, which requires that users manually input a PIN each time they access the drive, tools for online storage (as on the LaCie Rugged Mini) or for syncing files across multiple locations (as on the Seagate GoFlex Turbo) would have been a welcome addition.
Compared to the rudimentary or nonexistent security features of other portable hard drives, Apricorn's Aegis Padlock DT blows the competition away. The drive features two levels of security: 256-bit AES encryption for data on the drive, and a numbered keypad used to access the drive itself.
A small display above the keypad features three indicator lights, letting the user know if the drive is locked, unlocked or in Admin Mode. When in Admin Mode, the user can change the PIN to any combination of his or her choosing (although it must be at least six digits long). Even after plugging the USB 3.0 cable into a notebook, data can only be accessed after entering the PIN and pressing the Unlock key at the lower right corner of the keypad.
To lock the drive, the user simply clicks the Cancel button at the lower left corner. Several incorrect attempts to input a PIN cause the drive to lock itself, rendering the data useless and requiring a total reset of the drive.
Tough epoxy coating makes it difficult to remove the drive from its casing, but the 256-bit AES encryption ensures that data will be protected even if thieves manage to extract the drive. Apricorn also includes a number of other security elements, including a brute force self-destruct feature that destroys the encryption key after a predetermined number of failed PIN entries, as well as Variable Timing Circuit technology that's designed to prevent hackers from infiltrating the keypad's electronics.
As a USB 3.0 drive, the Aegis Padlock DT offers stellar read and write speeds, even though its rotational speed is just 5,400 rpm. Indeed, this 2TB drive beat the average and the competition in almost every category.
It took only 1 minute and 9 seconds to write 5GB of mixed multimedia files to the Aegis Padlock DT, a rate of 74.2 MBps. This matches the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme as the fastest write speed for 5GB of files, and exceeds the average time by 57 seconds, or 30 MBps.
The drive performed much more slowly when reading the same folder, taking 2 minutes and 17 seconds, a rate of 37.3 MBps. This falls well short of the average read speed for the category (52.3 MBps), and almost 50 MBps below the category leader, the MiniStation Extreme.
When transferring a single 3GB file, however, the Aegis Padlock DT handily beat the competition. Writing the file to the drive took just 26 seconds, a blisteringly fast rate of 118.2 MBps. This easily surpasses the previous category leaders, the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme (99.1 MBps) and Iomega eGo (99.1 MBps) and the category average (78.8 MBps).
The Aegis Padlock DT read the same file off the drive in 29 seconds, a rate of 105.9 MBps. This beats the category average (87.8 MBps) as well as the Seagate GoFlex Turbo (93.1 MBps). Only the Iomega eGo, with its category-leading read speed of 122.9 MBps, exceeded the Aegis Padlock DT.
Apricorn offers the Aegis Padlock DT in six configurations: 1TB, 2TB and 3TB drives with 128-bit AES Encryption (priced at $229, $279 and $359, respectively), as well as 1TB, 2TB and 3TB drives with 256-bit AES Encryption ($239, $289 and $369).
Although pricey at $289, the 2TB Apricorn Aegis Padlock DT USB 3.0 secure hard drive offers great read/write speeds, robust security and plenty of storage space. Some buyers will no doubt be turned off by the drive's large size and heavy weight, but to us it's a reasonable trade-off for a tamper-proof hard drive with multiple layers of electronic and digital security.
Those looking for something more portable that can be powered via USB might prefer the Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Secure Hard Drive, but it's limited to a max of 750GB ($199). But if you need a nigh-impregnable vault in which to store all your data, the Aegis Padlock DT is the drive for you.