March 26th, 2019 by Adam Armstrong
iStorage diskAshur2 SSD Review
The iStorage diskAshur2 is a portable SSD for those that need the highest security and performance. The drive uses a PIN authentication pad to unlock for use; users can select a 7-15 digit PIN. The drive also leverages real-time AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption for an extra layer of security. The drive comes in capacities as high as 4TB and multiple colors to fit a particular user's needs and style.
Some data that needs to be transferred is so critical that users can’t take a chance on it falling into the wrong hands. iStorage’s answer to this is its diskAshur2 portable drive. They keypad is coated in wear resistant epoxy to prevent the most used keys from showing wear. In fact, all components are coated in an epoxy resin, meaning obvious damage could be seen if someone attempted to access or modify the drive through the coating. The drive also offers a self destruct feature that is PIN implemented to instantly delete all data on the device including the encryption key and all PINs. There is a drive reset feature that is similar, both features generate new encryption keys.
The diskAshur2 comes with dedicated hardware based secure microprocessor (Common Criteria EAL4+ ready), which employs built-in physical protection mechanisms designed to defend against external tamper, bypass attacks and more. The drive leverages Enhanced Dual Generating Encryption (EDGE) technology with built-in FIPS PUB 197 validated AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption engine. Encryption happens in real-time meaning that data is safe even if the SSD is removed from the enclosure. The device automatically locks after a pre-determined amount of time or if five consecutive incorrect PIN attempts are entered.
The iStorage diskAshur2 comes with a 3-year warranty and can be picked up for around $155 USD for the 512GB and up to about $2,200 USD for the 4TB. Our iStorage diskAshur2 SSD was 1TB and red, which coincidentally matches the interior trim of the VW GTI.
iStorage diskAshur2 SSD Specifications
|Capaity||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB|
|Data Transfer Speed||Up to: Read 294 MB/s / Write 319 MB/s|
|Power Supply||Bus Powered|
|OS Compatibility||MS Windows
|Dimension (WxDxH)||124 mm x 84 mm x 20 mm|
|Weight||max. 180 grams|
|Hardware Data Encryption||Real-Time Military Grade AES-XTS 256-bit Full-Disk|
Design and Build
The top of face of the iStorage diskAshur2 has the keypad with lock and unlock buttons as well as LED indicators above the keypad. Along the top is company branding.
The USB 3.1 cord is attached to the side of the device and tucks away for easy storage. The one knock against the cable is that being fixed to the case, doesn't offer a native method to connect to USB-C only notebooks such as the Apple Macbook. A dongle solves this problem though. The bottom of the device has information such as whether or not it is an SSD or HDD, capacity, and various approvals.
To test the performance of the iStorage diskAshur2 we used the BlackMagic disk speed test on a current generation MacBook Air as well as leveraging a Lenovo ThinkStation 920 for Windows testing.
For BlackMagic the drive was able to hit 312.9MB/s read and 285.3MB/s write, over its read claim and near its write claim.
For IOMeter the iStorage diskAshur2 SSD was able to hit 261.1MB/s read and 265.1MB/s write in our 2MB sequential. For 2MB random we saw 250.9MB/s read and 246.9MB/s write. Switching over to random 4K throughput, the drive hit 6,019 IOPS read and 6,641 IOPS write. Overall the numbers are impressive given the real-time encryption at play.
If one has crucial files that need to be transferred and kept safe, the iStorage diskAshur2 SSD looks to be a pretty safe bet. The drive comes with PIN activation through a keypad as well as real-time AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption. There are several cool spy-like functions to further protect data such as a self-destruct PIN to erase both the data and the encryption key. The device is covered in an epoxy resin to protect it as well as let users know if anyone has tampered with it. Leveraging a built-in USB 3.1 cord, the drive can be bus powered and transfer data up to 294MB/s read and 315MB/s write. The drive comes in capacities up to 4TB.
Looking at performance, the iStorage diskAshur2 SSD lived up to its claims. In BlackMagic it was able to hit 312.9MB/s read and 285.3MB/s write. For IOMeter it hit 2MB scores of 261.1MB/s read and 265.1MB/s write in sequential and 250.9MB/s read and 246.9MB/s write in random. For 4K throughput the drive had scores of 6,019 IOPS read and 6,641 IOPS write.
For high-security storage, the iStorage diskAshur2 SSD checks off all the boxes while also providing the performance it promises.