Lexar Jumpdrive Secure II 2GB Mini Review
USB thumb drives have become so ubiquitous that there’s not much of substance that differentiates them, and a review of a common USB Drive is almost superfluous. Never-the-less I believe the Lexar Jumpdrive Secure II 2GBwarrants a quick review due to some of it’s unique features.
When I started looking for a secure USB drive for a trip to Eastern Europe I thought my requirements were fairly simple:
- 2GB minimum size: I needed enough storage to carry most of my important files so I could avoid having to bring a Tablet PC with me.
- Secure Encryption: I don’t have too much top secret info to protect, but I did want to make sure that if the drive was lost or stolen no one could access my personal financial information or work files.
- Cross platform PC & Mac: My work life is on PC and my personal life on Mac so I needed a drive with encryption technology that could seamlessly handle both platforms.
- No need to install drivers on host machine: I would be using a variety of PCs some public some not and wouldn’t always have admin access to install drivers.
- USB 2.0: I don’t think anyone has the patience for 1.0 speeds these days.
Unfortunately I was a bit naieve in my expectations for the technology. The Lexar turned out to be the only drive that fit the bill with all of the above features at a reasonable price point.
The Lexar takes in the view of Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge.
Fit & Form
Move along folks, not much to see here. The Lexar Jumpdrive Secure II is housed in a silver plastic casing not unlike hundreds of other USB drives. While the unit is basically esthetically pleasing, there’s nothing special about the design or the construction. The plastic casing makes the unit feel a little insubstantial and flimsy. It doesn’t feel like it would survive being stepped on. My previous drive, a Sandisk Cruzer Micro, was also cased in plastic but had a much more industrial strength feel.
The Lexar removes his cap to sun on the coblestones of Staromestky Namesti (Old Town Square).
The unit features a removable cap with a hole for a lanyard. The cap clips on solidly and feels like it won’t be accidentally dislodged and lost. On the opposite end of the drive is a small LED that illuminates blue when the drive is active. My only complaint here is that the LED can only be seen from one side. Plugged into my Powerbook, the LED faces downward and can’t be seen. Plugged into the side ports of a PC the LED faces backwards and can’t be seen. It’s a small annoyance, but one that could be easily rectified if Lexar placed the LED on the end of the USB drive.
Write the disk contents on the strip or better yet a melancholy Haiku about the existenstial pain of life.
The back of the drive sports a blank strip to ostensibly write the contents of the disk or a description, but if you’re like me, the contents of your USB drive are constantly changing and the strip is of little use. It would make a handy place to write your password…. hmmmm, be not.
The key feature of the Lexar is its encryption technology. With almost weekly news reports of lost laptops, smartphones, and hard drives containing secure or sensitive information, you would think that manufacturers would be further along with incorporating encryption and security technology in all our computing devices. (This is one area however where most of the Tablet PC manufacturers have excelled by incorporating finger print readers and encryption technology.) But to my dis when I started shopping for a Secure USB drive I found there were few choices that weren’t compromised in one way or another or far too expensive. In my view an ideal secure USB drive would offer hardware encryption, cross-platform performance, biometrics instead of passwords, and come in at around $50 for 2GB. The Lexar was the closest I could get.
The Lexar Jumpdrive Secure II comes preloaded with encryption software called Secure II. The premis and the process are simple: you create encrypted vaults on the drive to store your files. You can create multiple vaults in varying sizes or create one vault that uses most of the space on the drive (a small unencrypted portion of the drive always remains for the Secure II software). The vaults are encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption and strong password.
Creating a vault is easy and the software even offers a guage to tell you how strong/safe your password is.
The encrypted vault can then be mounted as a drive. Files can be dragged and dropped to and from the drive and are automatically encrypted. When you’re ready to pack up and hit the road, simply unmount the drive and rest assured knowing that its contents are safely encrypted.
Other USB drives offer similar encryption software, but none offer software that is cross platform. On a Tablet PC or desktop PC the Secure II software runs directly from the USB drive without the need to install any drivers or extra software. This is a blessing if your travelling and working on public computers where you not always have administrator access. On a Mac you must install a driver for the Secure II software to work, but once set up, offers an identical interface as on the PC and works seamlessly.
Since the encryption is software based, the speed at which you can transfer data to or from encrypted vaults relies largely on the power of the PC or Mac you’re using. On my anicent G4 Powerbook the process was painfully slow. On a recent model PC the performance hit was barely noticeable.
The Secure II software has a few other neat features. It allows you to create vaults anywhere such as on your hard disk or a network disk. It includes a built in file shredder that lets you securely shred files, folders, or the contents of the trash/recycle bin.
At the moment the Lexar Jumdrive Secure II is probably the best option out there if you need a secure USB drive with cross platform capabilities. I’d love to see the encryption go hardware based and not require driver installation on the Mac. Biometrics in place of the password would be nice but would probably significantly raise the price point.
- Cross Platform- Mac & PC
- Intuitive, easy encryption software
- Capacity and Price
- LED visible on only one side
- Plastic Construction
- Must install driver for Mac use
SECURE II USB FLASH DRIVE SPECS
* AES 256-bit encryption
* Available capacities 256MB / 512MB / 1GB
* Activity LED
* Hi-Speed USB
* No software installation or drivers required
* PC and Mac compatible
* Windows XP (Home or Professional), Windows 2000 Professional
* Macintosh OS X (10.2+)
* One available USB port (USB 2.0 recommended)
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