Secure Portable Drives: Protect Your Data on the Go


Everyone should be securing their data. While you may not have to worry about that movie you downloaded from iTunes, you likely have some more sensitive data you would like to protect in a digital vault. And then you still might want to toss that into a real, physical safe. The constant threat has brought secure portable hard drives to the forefront and it seems companies are coming out with more to help enterprise and everyday customers.

The Benefit of Physical Media

The Web is a dangerous place. Every time you load a webpage, send, or receive data, you are at risk. Luckily, many of your well-known companies—Apple, Google, Microsoft—have been putting safeguards on devices and apps to protect users as best they can. Still, some things are better left away from connected devices and the Internet. Also, anyone who has tried to send large files via transfer services understands that it is extremely time consuming.

Sending a couple of terabytes of raw video data is going to be much faster if you can just hand off a physical drive or card containing the files. Wired transfer speeds are still light years ahead of wireless setups. This makes portable drives ultra-useful. Foreseeable issues with mailing physical drives is that most are plug-and-play. This means if anyone gets ahold of yours, they can just plug it in and read everything on it.

Of course, many drives come with encryption options and plenty of software is available to add the proper levels of security to keep things secure. This added layer is enough to deter many people from using it—some high-end use cases, for example, the people shooting popular TV shows and movies. It makes sense in a way since this is another layer of complexity on the workflow and may require new software and training of everyone involved.

Think about it. iPhones have options for long alphanumeric passcodes, or even just longer numeric options. Yet, most people haven’t strayed from the basic four-digit code that isn’t too secure. Once Touch ID and Face ID were introduced, people were much more likely to use more secure biometric locking methods. If you make security software easier for people to use, they will be more likely to use it.

Thinking about it in that way, I want to take a look at the options we have for securely storing and transporting data.

Current Secure Portable Media Options

1. Samsung T7 Touch SSD
This drive may be the best option yet for secure, portable storage. Samsung took one of its best portable drives and made it even better. The T7 Touch is an ultra-compact SSD with read and write speeds of up to 1050 MB/s and 1000 MB/s, respectively. That is incredibly fast. The “Touch” aspect is the built-in fingerprint reader, allowing you to access your data quickly when you need it, yet keeps it safe from individuals looking to crack it. It is supported by 256-bit AES encryption and password protection.

2. SecureData SecureDrive BT
The brand is called SecureData, so that’s a good sign. Its SecureDrive BT series is a Bluetooth-enabled hardware-encrypted drive. You connect it to your computer and then use the companion DataLock app on a supported smartphone or tablet to enter the PIN and unlock the drive. It is FIPS compliant, if that is needed for your applications, and has remote management options, including the ability to erase the data remotely if it is lost or stolen. It is a safe option and is available in HDD and SSD versions in a variety of sizes up to 5TB and 8TB, respectively.

3. SecureData SecureDrive KP
Another option from SecureData, the SecureDrive KP uses a more traditional unlocking approach: a keypad. Certified secure with FIPS level 3, this drive has its own processing to perform hardware encryption without any loss of speed. It will work with practically every operating system and unlocking is performed by typing in your passcode via the keypad. It is available in HDD and SSD versions in a variety of sizes up to 5TB and 8TB, respectively.

4. Apricorn Aegis Fortress Secure Portable Drive
Keypads just make a drive look secure and deterrents can be enough to prevent malicious acts. If you want an alternative choice here, Apricorn offers the Aegis Fortress. It is FIPS 140-2 level 2 validated, meaning it meets government requirements for protecting data. It can be configured, has adjustable minimum PIN lengths, and has more administrator control. It can be set to lock after time unattended and even has a Self-Destruct PIN to destroy all data in an emergency. This one is impressive in that you can get it as an SSD up to 16TB, though the 1TB HDD is a fine option for most.

5. Rocstor Rocsecure EX31 Encrypted Drives
Last on the list is interesting. The Rocstor Rocsecure EX31 is another FIPS 140 Level 2 and NIST-certified drive, but this offers dual-factor security. It comes with physical token keys that need to be attached before the drive will even mount or display on your computer and then requires password validation. This keeps your data extra protected because it has another layer of protection. Also, the aluminum frame, shock and thermal protection, and load-bearing case will protect the drive from physical damage. Find it as an HDD or SSD up to 4TB.

Tell us your thoughts about which of these drives will best meet your needs and why in the Comments section, below.