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iStorage datAshur PRO2 Review: A Tough Little Data Vault

The iStorage datAshur PRO2 is the mini version of the DiskAshur PRO2 that came out five months ago. The tiny storage device has almost everything: impassable security, rugged build, good look, fast performance, and a ton of storage space.

It’s not perfect, though. Users have to deal with long PIN combinations to unlock the drive or manage its security. Also, while the datAshur PRO2 sure can keep your information safe from unauthorized access, it doesn’t have a way to prevent the case somebody wants to destroy data it stores deliberately.

In all, if you’re looking for a breach-proof ultra-portable storage device to carry lots of data on the go, the Datashur Pro2 is an easy recommendation. It has enough to justify its expensive cost that ranges from $40 to $450 for 4GB to 512GB in capacities.

The iStorage datAshur PRO2 is a mini storage vault. Note the embedded keypad.
The iStorage datAshur PRO2 is a mini storage vault. Note the embedded keypad.

iStorage datAshur PRO2

8.4

Performance

9.0/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Top-notch security against data breach
  • Rugged, weather-proof, compact design
  • Fast performance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No safeguard against deliberate data deletion
  • Loose sleeve

iStorage datAshur PRO2: A Thumb drive like no other

The datAshur PRO2 is, first and foremost is a thumb drive. As such, it’s quite typical, just slightly larger than a traditional drive of the same type. On one end, it has a regular USB connector that fits directly into a standard USB port. (It works with a USB-C port, too, if you have an adapter). On the other, there’s an opening for you to hook it to a keyfob. But the similarity ends there.

iStorage datAshur PRO2: Hardware specifications

Full nameiStorage datAshur PRO2 
Secure Encrypted Flash Drive 
Capacities4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB,
64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Part numberIS-FL-DP2-256-XXX 
(XXX = capacity in GB)
SecurityAES-XTS 256-bit 
full disk hardware encryption
InterfaceUSB 3.2 Gen 1 
(formerly USB 3.0)
Data  transfer ratesRead: 130.3  MB/s 
Write: 116.5 MB/s
Battery3.7V Li-Polymer 
Rechargeable Battery
Weight1.3 oz (37 grams) 
.98 oz (28 grams)  — without sleeve  
Dimensions (H x W x D)3.44 x .7 x .53 in 
(87.40 x 19.40 x 13.40 mm)
CompatibilityWindows, macOS, Linux, Chrome, 
Android, Thin Clients, Zero Clients, 
Embedded Systems, Citrix 
and VMware
CertificationFIPS 140-2 Level 3, 
NCSC CPA, NLNCSA BSPA  
& NATO Restricted Level (Pending)  
Warranty3 years warranty 
with free lifetime technical  support  
iStorage datAshur PRO2’s hardware specifications.

Rugged design with a built-in battery, keypad

The iStorage datAshur PRO2 is no ordinary thumb drive.
The iStorage datAshur PRO2 is no ordinary thumb drive.

Just by the look, you know the datAshur PRO2 is no ordinary. The drive is sturdy and coated with a layer of polymer to keep it safe from dust — it’s is wear-resistant. And that’s important because there’s is an alphanumeric keypad that runs alongside its top.

The keypad includes numbers from 0 to 9, three status lights, a Shift, and a Lock key. Using these, you can manage the drive’s security independently, without a computer. In other words, once unlocked, the dataAshur PRO2 works just like any other regular thumb drive. You don’t need software or a special partition to open it. So, yes, you’ll use this keypad quite regularly.

For its security feature to work, the dataAshur PRO2 has a built-in rechargeable battery. When the battery is out of juice, you’ll need to plug the drive into a host before you can unlock it. And when you do, the battery charges. According to iStorage, you can charge it from empty to full in about 30 minutes. Generally, if you use the drive once in a while, the battery will never run out.

By the way, the datAshur PRO2 comes with a sleeve that covers its connector and keypad. In my trial, this jacket didn’t fit in tightly. So, if you indeed hook the drive on a keychain, chances are the sleeve will fall off eventually.

Top-notch security feature

iStorage says the datAshur PRO2 features an on-device crypto-chip with 100% real-time military-grade AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption that uses the FIPS 197 validated encryption algorithm. It also incorporates a Common Criteria EAL4+ ready secure microprocessor.

What’s more, the drive is tamper-proof, with a layer of tough epoxy resin covering all of its components. As a result, there’s no way to open it up without causing damage to critical parts, which will destroy the data it stores.

In other words, there’s no way to crack it. If you forget your PIN, you will lose access to the data for good. And you can’t keep guessing the PIN either since the drive comes with brute force protection.

You can work with the iStorage datAshur PRO2's keypad when the drive is plugged in.
You can work with the iStorage datAshur PRO2’s keypad when the drive is plugged in.

Data breach-proof: Yes

The datAshur PRO2 has two PIN types, user and admin; each must include 7 to 15 digits. You need a user PIN to unlock the drive. The admin PIN can also be used to change user PINs and other settings, including creating a self-destruct PIN. As the name suggests, the self-destruct PIN will quickly erase all data.

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If a user PIN is entered incorrectly ten consecutive times, it will be deleted. Now you will need to use the admin PIN to recreate it. If the admin PIN is entered incorrectly ten times, all PINs will be erased, and the encryption key will be lost forever. The drive is now reset, with all data permanently gone.

Data integrity assurance: No

Suppose you worry that you might reset the drive accidentally, don’t. It’s almost impossible to enter a wrong PIN pattern once, let alone ten consecutive times. That’s because you have to press a particular key combo (i.e., Shift + Lock), then a PIN, then the Lock key to unlock the drive. If you mess up the order, the process is canceled, and the entry is not counted.

But you can intentionally enter the wrong PIN or perform a reset. And this brings up my major issue with the datAshur PRO2. While you can make sure your data on the drive is safe from the prying eye, there’s no way you can guard the information against deliberate deletion.

Anyone who reads the drive’s manual can reset it. That said, don’t use the daAshur PRO2 to store the last copy of an important document.

It’s a hard problem

Like the diskAshur PRO2, the datAshur PRO2 faces a big challenge: It’s hard to keep data breach-proof and safe (from being erased) at the same time. So, it focuses on the former at the expense of the latter. But I believe iStorage could do more.

For example, the company should make it much harder to reset the drive — currently, the steps are too simple. It also should allow for shorter PINs (as short as four digits) and only turn on brute force protection for those.

There should be an option to turn off the brute force protection for PINs that are seven digits or longer since the PIN is already tough to guess.

datAshur PRO2: Smooth operator

I tested the datAshur PRO2 for about a week, and it performed well in all aspects. First of all, its security works well, precisely as iStorage describes. Here’s my experience.

Excellent security mechanism

Once unlocked, you have 30 seconds to insert the drive into a computer. If you wait longer, the drive will lock itself. You can unlock the drive before plugging it in or do that after you have connected it to a computer. By the way, the drive’s keypad has an excellent tactile response, which helps a lot when entering a long PIN.

Once unlocked and plugged in, the datAshur PRO2 will remain unlocked as long as the computer is working. The drive will lock itself if the computer turns off, restarts, or goes into sleep mode or if you unplug it.

Out of the box, the drive is formatted in exFAT to work with both Windows and Mac interchangeably. You can format it into whichever file system you want. The formatting will not affect its security.

Overall, after a few days, I became quite comfortable with the datAshur PRO2, and it also grew on me. The mix of small design, security, and ample storage space is quite lovely. And the drive’s speedy performance doesn’t hurt, either.

iStorage datAshur PRO2 Performance

Fast copy speeds

Indeed, the datAshur PRO2 is one of the speediest thumb drives I’ve used, if not the fastest. I tested it the way I do other portable drives, and, via a USB 3.2 Gen 1, it averaged some 110 MB/s for writing and some 130 MB/s for reading. These were very impressive for a thumb drive.

iStorage datAshur PRO2 Hand
The iStorage datAshur PRO2 is super compact.

The drive also worked with a USB 2.0 port in my testing. In this case, it averaged about 38 MB/s. Like all thumb drives, it had no problem drawing power from a USB port. It also remained cool to the hand, even in an extended operation.

Conclusion

I like the datAshur PRO2 much better than the diskAshur PRO2, thanks to its super-compact design. Despite a few shortcomings, this is an ideal portable storage device for those wanting to ensure their information is safe against data breaches.

Due to its high cost, though, the datAshur PRO2 is not for everyone. But if you need this type of security, the drive is the best among its type. Get one, and you’ll also get complete peace of mind when carrying your critical information around.

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