The last time we reviewed a secure hard drive from Apricorn, we were pleased with the Aegis Padlock 3.0's secure interface and portability. Now, the company is back with a new model that swaps out a keypad for a biometric fingerprint sensor. Simply dubbed the Aegis Bio 3.0 ($249, as low as $208 online), this portable hard drive includes 1TB of storage along with 256-bit hardware encryption and an integrated USB 3.0 cable. Still, you can get a 1TB portable drive without fingerprint security for $99. Is the premium worth the peace of mind?
Click to EnlargeThe Aegis Bio 3.0 sports a black boxy exterior with a fingerprint sensor situated in the center of its face. The silver racing stripe adds a bit of flair but some may find it a little garish. Three tiny LED lights with corresponding symbols sit just above this finger slot, and the enroll button used to register fingerprints is right below it.
You'll find an integrated USB cable running along the side of the drive, which is really convenient. Apricorn includes an extension for this cable in its packaging.
The fingerprint sensor is subtle and doesn't take away from the storage device's sleek feel, marking an improvement over Apricorn's padlock edition.
Measuring 4.7 x 3.25 x .7 inches and weighing 6.2 ounces, the Aegis Bio 3.0 is just a little bit larger than a smartphone and more portable than the padlock variant (4.7 x 3.3 x 0.75 inches, 7.3 ounces). The ThinkPad USB 3.0 is about the same size but a tad heavier than the Bio 3.0 (4.8 x 3.4 x 0.7 inches).
Setup and Utilities
Click to EnlargeSetting up the Aegis Bio 3.0 is simple--there's no software required. However, you may need to be patient when registering your fingerprint. We had to swipe our finger multiple times before the hard drive stored our fingerprint. Apricorn warns that this is normal and it can take up to six swipes for the storage unit to remember a print.
Before swiping, you'll need to hold down the enroll button for 3 seconds to activate the registration process. From there, the Aegis Bio 3.0 will give you the blue light to proceed.
The hard drive can store up to five fingerprints at a time, but you must add each print within 15 seconds if you wish to enroll them consecutively. If not, you can add them later by performing the enrollment process again.
Like its padlocked predecessor and Lenovo's ThinkPad USB 3.0, the Aegis Bio 3.0 doesn't come with any pre-installed backup utilities. We praised Seagate's GoFlex Turbo for its array of backup options, and wish Apricorn's offering came with similarly helpful utilities.
Compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux, Apricorn's Aegis Bio incorporates two crucial layers of protection. In addition to the biometric fingerprint sensor, it comes with military-grade FIPS PUB 197 validated encryption algorithm capabilities. This means that the Aegis Bio uses real-time 256-bit AES-XTS encryption to make sure data stays protected.
To unlock the hard drive, simply plug the device into your PC using the attached USB cable, swipe the enrolled finger across the sensor and wait for the middle LED light to turn green. In most cases we unlocked the drive with a single swipe, but on a couple of occasions we had to swipe a few times. You'll know that the storage device is unlocked when the red LED light turns off and the green one stabilizes. To lock the device again, press the enroll button until the red LED turns on.
There's no Admin mode on this drive, which means that you can't delete individual fingerprints from the storage unit. Instead, you'll have to perform a complete factory reset, which will erase all enrolled fingerprints along with any data stored on the drive. Wiping the Aegis Bio 3.0 also changes the encryption key used to secure the drive.
Apricorn's fingerprint-sensor storage unit performs moderately well as a USB 3.0 hard drive, offering mid-range read/write speeds when compared to competing devices.
The Aegis Bio 3.0 took 2 minutes and 6 seconds to write 5GB of mixed media files, which translates to 40.4 MBps. Apricorn's Aegis Padlock 3.0 performed similarly (42.1 MBps) but was far outshined by Lenovo's ThinkPad USB 3.0 (1:22, 62.4 MBps).
The Aegis Bio 3.0 read 5GB of multimedia files a bit faster, taking 1 minute and 47 seconds to execute the task at a rate of 47.6 MBps. Apricorn's keypad alternative (65.2 MBps) and Lenovo's ThinkPad USB 3.0 Secure Hard Drive (62.4 MBps) were both quicker reading the same file.
Apricorn offers its Aegis Bio 3.0 hard drive in three different configurations: 500GB ($199), 750GB ($219) and 1TB ($249).
Click to EnlargeApricorn's Aegis Bio 3.0 offers fingerprint security, full encryption and a full terabyte of storage space in a compact design. If you're looking for an alternative to password protection, this drive is a solid but pricey choice. After all, you're paying about a $100 premium just for the data protection. While we wish the Bio 3.0 offered faster transfer speeds, overall it's a good choice for those who want to lock down their files.