With everything being increasingly digital, there may be times you need to transport important data but need to keep it secure. We previously reviewed the iStorage diskAshur SSD and, while it worked well enough, it can be a bit bulky as it’s a full-on external hard drive. Our iStorage datAshur Pro2 takes a look at one of the company’s more portable storage options: an encrypted USB stick.
The iStorage datAshur Pro2 has the following features and specifications:
|Features||• Admin & User PIN enrollment|
• One-time User recovery PIN
• Device reset feature
• Whitelisting on networks
• Self-destruct feature
• Polymer coated, wear-resistant, alphanumeric keypad
• Common Criteria EAL4+ ready secure microprocessor
• Hard anodized and ruggedized extruded aluminium housing
• IP68 certified when sleeve is fitted
• Immune to bad USB
• Inactivity Auto-lcok
• Customization services available
|Hardware||Hardware encrypted USB flash drive|
|Hardware Data Encryption||AES-XTS 256-bit full disk hardware encryption|
|Certification||FIPS 140-2 Level 3, NCSC CPA, NLNCSA BSPA & NATO Restricted Level|
|Interface||USB 3.2 Gen 1 SuperSpeed USB|
|Data Transfer Rates||• Read: 130.3 MB/s|
• Write: 116.5 MB/s
|Battery||3.7V Li-Polymer Rechargeable Battery|
|Operating System Compatibility||MS Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome, Android, Thin Clients, Zero Clients, Embedded Systems, Citrix, and VMware|
|Dimensions||87.4 x 19.4 x 13.4mm|
|Weight||~28 g (w/o sleeve), ~37g (with sleeve)|
What’s in the box
- iStorage DataShure Pro 2 encrypted USB stick
- Extruded aluminum sleeve
- Quick Start Guide
The iStorage datAshur Pro2 encrypted USB stick looks pretty similar to other USB sticks. It’s fairly compact, albeit a bit thicker than non-encrypted versions. The stick comes with a removable aluminum sleeve with the DATASHUR PRO2 words in white printed on it. When removed, the key (no pun intended) difference over other USB sticks is apparent — two columns of six buttons adorn the top of the USB stick.
Towards the USB-A end are three LEDs: lock, unlock, and admin mode. Underneath these are the two columns of 10 number buttons with a shift and key button at the bottom of the columns. Each number, except 0 and 1, has three or four letters under them, much like a telephone. This helps with remembering complex passwords which I’ll discuss shortly. The end opposite the USB-A plug is hollowed out so you can place the USB stick on a keyring or attach it to something else.
The datAshur Pro2 itself feels solid and has a bit of weight to it. The casing and the sleeve are both constructed from aluminum. When the sleeve is on the USB stick, it seals and is IP68 water and dustproof. The alphanumeric keypad is polymer-coated and wear-resistant.
While we didn’t take this one apart like we did the diskAshur SSD due to no visible screws or way in, iStorage says it has a similar epoxy resin layer covering the critical internal components. This layer “is virtually impossible to remove without causing permanent damage to the critical components.”
While the datAshur Pro2 comes with a Quick Start Guide, you’ll definitely need the full user manual as well. It is included on the USB stick or can be downloaded from the iStorage website.
The Quick Start Guide is enough to get you started and walk you through setting the Admin PIN. This PIN must be created before the drive can be used. Once you’ve set and unlocked the drive with the Admin PIN, you can then access the User Manual. While the PIN can be set up and entered before inserting the drive into a USB port, you may have to charge it for 30-60 minutes by inserting it into a USB Port before setting it up.
Once you’ve set the Admin PIN, you can then dive into the many configuration options available. You can set a User PIN Policy which includes setting the minimum length of characters as well as if special characters (using the SHIFT + number) must be used. You can delete, edit, or check this user policy as well. When checking it, you can verify how it’s set up based on the number of blinks from the red, green, and blue LEDs. When in Admin Mode, you can also create, modify, or delete User PINs, create or delete a one-time user recovery PIN, activate recovery mode, set or disable user and global read-only modes, set the unattended lock clock (5-99 minutes), set the PIN brute force limitations before the drive resets, and configure a self-destruct PIN.
Each of these settings is modified by pressing different combinations of keys and keeping an eye on the various LEDs. It’s not difficult and the User Manual has a nice table for each process, but it is tedious and time consuming.
Ease of Use
Once configured and set up properly, the datAshur Pro2 is super simple to use. As a user, all you need to do is hold down the shift and key buttons until the red, green, and blue LEDs start blinking. Once they are, enter the user PIN then the key button. The green and blue LEDs will start alternating and if the PIN is correct, the green LED will go solid. If not, the red LED will go solid and you’ll have to try again.
After the green LED turns solid, indicating it has been successfully unlocked, plug the drive into an open USB-A slot on your computer and you can use it as you would a regular USB stick. The stick will lock after the specified time out period or once it’s removed from the computer.
As far as performance is concerned, the iStorage datAshur Pro2 isn’t the fastest drive on the market, but it works. We were able to get pretty close to the indicated 130MB/s read and 116MB/s write speeds.
If you wish, the drive can also be configured as a bootable drive which offers even more flexibility.
As mentioned above, you can also set a Self-Destruct PIN for the datAshur Pro2. Once entered, it will render all data on the drive useless and inaccessible and you’ll have to set the drive up from scratch, including formatting it for Windows or macOS use if need be.
The iStorage datAshur Pro2 starts at US$64 for the 4GB version. If you think this is pricey, you aren’t wrong. In fact, the 128GB version we reviewed comes in at $220 — easily 10x the price of other non-encrypted storage of the same size. That being said, encrypted is the key focus here and, while limited, the datAshur comes in fairly close in price to other encrypted USB sticks that we found. Depending on the data you’re looking to transport securely, the price may not be an issue at all.
Definitely more expensive than non-encrypted storage, the iStorage datAshur Pro2 is a compact way to securely store and transport your important data.
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iStorage datAshur Pro2US$64+
- Secure, portable storage
- Virtually tamper proof
- Well constructed with aluminum housing and sleeve
- IP68 dust and waterproof
- Many configuration options available
- Can be unlocked before inserting it into a USB port
- Won't let you set weak passwords like 1234567890
- Brute Force limitations
- Self-Destruct PIN
- No software required
- Setup is straightforward but tricky, manual is a must have