The external/portable hard-drive space is getting a bit crowded these days with companies vying for position with stats, specs, and competitive pricing. A wall has been hit in terms of moving the technology forward, so companies are packing in more features for the price, and the winner is consumers.
This past year has really opened my eyes to what’s out there, and I’ve connected with two amazing brands who have given us hard drives in the security space to review.
SecureData has sent us a handful of drives that have knocked it out of the park in terms of features, build quality, and security features.
We had a chance to take a deep look at the 1TB BackupDrive, a device that fills a niche within the company’s offerings. While most of the company’s drives are geared more towards locking down your data with spytech-level features, the price tags for those drives put them a little out of reach for those who are looking primarily for space.
The Backup Drive is the company’s solution to getting a more affordable drive into the hands of users without neglecting security.
The BackupDrive comes in two different types, hard disk and solid-state. The hard-disk drives come in 1, 2, and 5TB sizes while the solid-state drives come in smaller 250 and 500GB sizes along with the larger 1, 2, 4, and 8TB sizes.
Prices for the hard-disk drives are much cheaper than the solid-state drives, but there’s a reason for that — hard-disk drives are slower, more fragile to bumps and jostles, and they’re also prone to breaking down over time due to all the moving parts.
The BackupDrive, unlike the other offerings we reviewed, did not have any security features like a keypad or a Bluetooth controller that required an app to lock or unlock. Instead, the software encryption and backup features are contained on the drive as programs.
Setting up the drive on a PC is incredibly easy — you just plug it in. Your PC should instantly recognize the drive and open up a window to show the drive’s contents.
A quickstart guide will navigate you to three software packages — EncryptUSB, DriveSecurity, and USBtoCloud — that you can download and run on your computer.
Each of those software packages install a program to the hard drive, which means these programs don’t need to be installed whenever you move the drive to another computer. And you don’t have to run all three programs, you can decide which you want to keep to match your use-case scenarios.
EncryptUSB gives users the option of creating a password to lock all files on the drive. Whenever you plug in your hard drive to a new computer, you will be able to see the first window of contents of the drive, but you will not be able to access any of the files or folders until you click on the executable and input a password.
DriveSecurity is an antivirus program that keeps your files clean, and USBtoCloud automatically backs up the contents of your drive to one of the many cloud services you may already be using or an NAS device on your network.
Each of these software packages comes with a free one-year subscription.
Apples to apples
While almost every drive sent to us from SecureData has been stellar, the BackupDrive is one of those rare misses from a company trying to do everything.
The more secure drives in their lineup are top-tier products in which the hard drive is just one piece of a larger unbeatable puzzle. The SecureDrive BT for example requires an app and password to remotely unlock the drive, and the physical components of the drive are protected by literal resin. Other app features allow you to wipe the drive remotely, set up admin and user access, and change the drive from write to read-only.
Granted, the BT is a much more expensive product, the extra value is evident in the build and software that go above and beyond to protect your digital valuables.
The BackupDrive 1TB comes in at a price of $149.00. Included are the three programs that each have a license that expires after one year. The EncryptUSB and DriveSecurity licenses each cost $9.96 a year per drive, and the USBtoCloud with built-in antivirus costs $19.00 per drive every year. Added together, that’s a tiny bit under $40, which puts the drive by itself at $110.08.
Comparing just the drive to another on the market, for about $10 more, you can buy the Samsung T5 1TB SSD, which is faster, hardier, and smaller than the BackupDrive.
If we compared two hard-disk drives, the Seagate 2TB drive currently goes for $62.99 on Amazon. That’s a much more affordable drive with twice the capacity for a lot less.
The three programs can be used on any portable storage device and can be purchased separately on the SecureDrive site. Instead of purchasing the BackupDrive, you can opt to get a solid-state drive and load up the software for the price of two Starbucks drinks.
That’s what makes the Backup Drive a bit of a disappointment. Though it’s built well — its aluminum case feels solid and evokes the kind of feeling you would want from a company that prides itself on strength and security — it’s hard to justify that price when you can get something faster, smaller, and more durable for a wee bit more.
And after messing with the drive a bit, I made a critical error. It appears that while you cannot access files without the password, you can still delete things. I deleted the folder that keeps the encryption software’s details, and suddenly, I was locked out of the entire drive. Not being able to get back in, I formatted the drive and realized that I no longer had access to the quickstart guide to get me back to the programs I wanted to run on the hard drive.
I’ve seen SD cards that were harder to get into — they couldn’t even be opened without a password — and while a lost BackupDrive would only allow a thief to see the root directory and files, they could simply just wipe the drive clean and become the owners of a used but very fancy hard drive.
At that point, you might be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing your files won’t get stolen, but you might consider going the much cheaper and better route of buying a different company’s hard drive and loading up the software onto it.
SecureData BackupDrive 1TB
This review is based on a review-sample 1TB drive sent to us from the company.