iStorage datAshur SD Review USB-C Flash Drive With MicroSD Card Encrypted Reader

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

iStorage's new datAshur SD has been designed specifically to prevent malware and ransom attacks, which are the biggest threat to the cybersecurity of any organization.  In the age of cyber attacks, the best way to get yourself and your business ready to fight hackers is with a dedicated secure solution that only you control!
iStorage datAshur SD is a USB-C flash drive with a pin authenticated, hardware encrypted microSD card slot with tamper-resistance and long PIN creation up to 64 digit PINs to authenticate and use the flash drive. This makes datAshur SD harder to "crack" than previous iStorage solutions such as datAshur PRO, which can only handle a maximum 15-digit PIN authentication. 

One of the biggest disadvantages with iStorage datAshur SD, it's that it only works with iStorage branded microSD cards. On the upside, iStorage sells microSD cards with extended capacity (microSDXC) up to 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. The microSDXC format is great because it supports 4K content, unlike microSDHC cards. One distinct advantage with the iStorage microSD cards is that any data store in it is encrypted using AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption, which is currently the most secure with a 384 bits key length, which is technically impossible to crack using a brute-force attack.

iStorage datAshur SD also comes with software support via the KeyWriter cloning software which enables you to clone multiple datAshur SD flash drives with the same encrypted encryption to create backups and make file sharing safer within an organization. After cloning, one microSD card can be used with as many cloned flash drives as you want, although one flash drive will have to be the "master" one (refer to pages 9-11 of user guide).
iStorage datAshur SD cards are also available in microSDHC format (32GB) and, you can use any iStorage cards with a third party card reader but with one drawback. Youhave to format the card, which is a downside because after being formatted by a third party card reader, the iStorage card doesn't work properly with the datAshur SD flash drive.

DatAshur SD lack of third party compatibility is likely to limit some of its appeal. On the other hand, there is a benefit to using an iStorage microSD card versus using a third party microSD could potentially compromise datAshur SD. From that stand point, it makes sense that datAshur SD has been designed to work only with iStorage cards. Another advantage of using an iStorage card, it's that you won't have to worry about data loss or compatibility issues.
Construction-wise, iStorage datAshur SD is built-in to an anodized metal body that integrates a rubber alpha-numeric pad, as well as a square keyring and rubber o-ring gasket, which helps create a tight seal between the protective cap and body. The cap is also made of anodized aluminium and fits very snugly, preventing water from getting in. In fact, you can submerge datAhsur SD under 1 meter of water for about 20 minutes. The rubber pad buttons are tactile with a hard-press (subtle click) actuation. 
As well as rubber physical buttons, iStorage datAshur SD features 3 status leds to feedback various status, including lock/unlock. Dimensions are 7cm long x 2cm wide x 1cm thick. The USB-C connector is unusually long about 1cm long. Total weight is 34 grams (including the cap).
Like previous iStorage flash drives, the datAshur SD is self-powered (not bus-powered); hence it uses its own internal battery for power. The charging time of datAshur SD is 1 hour, which can power the drive for around 22 hours. In terms of read/write performance, the iStorage cards lag behind the competition, averaging 90MB/s read speeds when opening a file and 89MB/s write speeds when saving. 
These read/write speeds were good 2 years ago but not by today's standards. You can get microSD cards with read speeds over 300MB/s and write speeds over 260MB/s. On that note, DataShur SD read/write speeds are faster than the original datAshur Personal 2 flash drive but the read speed is slower than the datAshur Pro version.

Potential deal breakers
  • Only works with iStorage branded microSD cards
  • iStorage card is not included (sold separately)
  • Unusually long USB-C connector
  • No rubber cover to protect microSD card slot (useful to prevent pocket lint)
  • Sticks out awkwardly from a USB-A port
  • Powered by internal battery - an issue if you forget charging
  • No quick charge support
  • Slow read/write speeds 
  • Learning curve

Selling points
  • Supports 4k content
  • Removable memory 
  • Can share files safely with colleagues within same organization
  • Self-powered 
  • Trusted brand
  • Supports ExFAT/FAT32 file formats
  • Made for USB-C laptops
  • Compatible with Android and iOS
  • 256 AES-XTS encryption FIPS (384 bits key)
  • FIPS 197 certification
  • Polymer coated keypad Wear resistant keypad
  • Anchor point for lanyard/keyring
  • IP68 dust/water proof 
  • REACH RoHS compliant
  • FIPS 140-3 Level 3 compliant 
  • Supports encrypted data storage up to 1TB
  • 3 year guarantee
  • Pin authentication
  • Hardware encryption
  • USB-C connectivity
  • Lifetime technical support 
  • Cross-platform compatibility with VMware, CITRIX, Android, iOS, MacOS & Windows

Accessories include USB-c to USB-A adapter and a quick start guide. A more detailed user guide of datAshur SD can also be found on the iStorage website. Datashur SD is sold individually and as a dual pack which you can buy directly from iStorage or amazon. Every twin pack of the datAshur SD is supplied with free keyWriter license (non-expireable) which can be transferred from person to person. 

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