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Kingston DataTraveler 2000 secure USB drive review

John E Dunn | March 1, 2016
Vendors just won't give up on encrypted USB drives.

Based on the more expensive version of the datAshur, this product is much better. Entering PINs is easy with a good travel on the keypad so we'd have no reservations about the product on this score.

Kingston DataTraveler 2000 review - setup

Accessing the drive is as simple as entering the correct 7 to 15-digit PIN before the drive is plugged into the PC. This reveals another consequence of the keypad design; the drive requires an internal rechargeable battery to power the drive during this operation. Before the Kingston can be used for the first time, this has to be charged for a one-off period of 60 minutes. After that, simply plugging the drive into the PC for a few minutes should be enough to top this up.

Security: The second major advantage of entering the PIN before the drive is plugged into the computer is that it can't be sniffed or keylogged by malware hiding on the host system. Unlike the passwords used on rival designs, the PIN never leaves the drive itself.

Changing PINs: The second task is to change the default PIN to something more secure by following a defined sequence of key presses. This can either be numbers alone or a mixture of letters and numbers (each PIN key can also be used to enter letters if it is pressed the required number of times). Obviously the more complex the passphrase, the longer it will take to unlock and the greater the chances of an error.

In use we found setting a complex password quite confusing and time-consuming because there is no feedback to let the user know that the wrong key has been pressed until it becomes obvious later that it hasn't worked. It's not insurmountable but it's hard to see users wanting to set up passwords very often, something to be aware of.

For extra security, a timeout can be set of between 1 and 99 minutes after which the drive will ask for the PIN even when plugged into the PC. Otherwise the drive will wipe itself should anyone attempt to brute force the PIN after 10 consecutive attempts.

Kingston DataTraveler 2000 - conclusion

Organisations that prefer physical storage drives will find plenty to like in this drive and its design. The keypad is usable and the security on offer. Being able to use it with any computer regardless of platform will be a big plus for some customers. Physically, the hard plastic design inside a metal case seems robust.

The downsides are expense - this isn't a cheap drive by any means. Another question is whether Kingston will move to offering products based on the IronKey technology it recently purchased or stick with this design which is basically a re-badging of technology from UK firm iStorage. Customers might also prefer to buy it from that source.


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