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Review: PNY IronKey 4GB Flash Drive

Luigi of I4U had some time yesterday to review the PNY IronKey USB 4GB UFD. In short it’s a great security device but you give up performance for such security. The PNY IronKey uses AES encryption which is always on and keys generated by the on-board cryptochip uses FIPS 140-2 true compliant random number generation. Since the IronKey uses the cryptochip the keys used to generate access never leave the UFD (and onto computer).

pny ironkey

The PNY IronKey has an on board stealth browser via Firefox and is entirely incased with a water tight sealant which sits underneath the rugged, outside enclosure. Setup:
Setting up the PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive is easy and when you first plug the drive into your USB port an on screen menu pops up to prompt you to initialize the drive. This includes accepting a couple user agreements and choosing your password for the drive. The PNY IronKey then generates the AES keys needed for encryption your data. The drive also gives you the chance to back your password up online so you can retrieve it and gain access to your data if you forget it. The drive needs no drivers and after setting up the password you are ready to use the always encrypted drive for data storage.
Benchmarking: The USB benchmark tests I4U performed concluded the device speed is about half of what is claimed by the manufacturer. Using a 2MB file transfer for both read and write Luigi found: 2MB Files Test
Read Performance : 519 operation(s)/min (17715 kB/sec, 118x) Write Performance : 47 operation(s)/min (1604 kB/sec, 10x) Delete Performance : 525 ops/minute File Fragments : 1.0 Combined Index : 120 ops/minute
Doing a real-world read / write from a 562MB data set total transfer time for writing was a decent 1 minute 55 seconds and a read back of just 31 seconds. Conclusion:
If you need to carry data securely you are going to have to give up performance to the encryption of the data as it is moved to the flash drive. Even then the numbers I measured in this review are about half of the claimed speeds.
Read the full review from I4U or if you are convinced already, the USB IronKey is available for under $80.

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