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IronKey Workspace W700 FIPS Review: Windows To Go on one tough, secure little key drive

Jon L. Jacobi | Dec. 5, 2014
A remotely manageable, FIPS 140-2 level 3 validated USB flash drive that can run Windows To Go more securely than any other currently available solution.

Provisioning--installing Windows onto the larger portion of the drive--requires IronKey's freely downloadable Admin Unlocker utility, or licensing the company's Workspace provisioning tool. which will install the operating system on up to 14 drives simultaneously. I used the Admin unlocker, which simply renders the Windows portion of the drive visible so you may install the OS. Note there's no "lock" function within the utility--the OS partition will re-lock itself the minute you remove the drive from the USB port.

IT departments rolling out fleets of W700's will appreciate its remote manageability. Using the online IronKey Remote management system ($24 per drive, per annum) you can kill the password, wipe the contents, deactivate the drive, change user and admin policies, and log its geographical location (via IP address, not GPS). Obviously, this all relies on the drive's ability to contact the server.

Curiously, though other IronKey drives may be set to perform one of the above actions if there's no contact with the server after a set period of time, that isn't the case with the Workspace series. In the case of theft, a strong password and the FIPS-compliant hardware are your defense. Imation told me if there's demand, they'll expose this feature. 

Also available from IronKey are the slightly less expensive, "only"-level-2 validated W500, and the IronKey W300, which lacks hardware encryption altogether but is a significantly cheaper option if you're content to run Windows using only BitLocker, or no security at all. There are ways to run plain Windows 8 and even Windows 7 from a basic USB stick, thought: See my review of Aomei's Partition Assistant.

There's no more secure, or more easily managed solution for running Windows To Go than Imation's IronKey W700 Workspace. It's a unique product at the moment, and it's hard to conceive of any improvement upon it.


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