Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G2 USB Drive Review
Reviewed by: BluePanda
Reviewed on: September 5, 2012
Price: $12.99 - $49.99
Everyone has owned or at least used a flash drive at some point. Whether you call it a thumb drive, jump drive, or disk on key it has the same basic function: storing files to access them from another place. There is no need for an internet connection to get your files, and if you are in school or have a job you’ve been reaping the benefits for a while. However, sometimes you might have some files you don’t want everyone to see. Whether it’s the Christmas gift list you are hiding from the wife or your My Little Pony videos you secretly watch at night, there’s a new generation product released just for you. The Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G2 allows you and you only (provided you don't share your password) to gain access to the drive. So if you are worried your buddy at work is trying to steal your design, lock it up tightly on the Locker+ G2, and you can be sure you have the only copy of that design to present to your boss.
The Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G2 was released just a few weeks ago on July 10th. Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc. announced the DataTraveler Locker+ G2 as a second generation to its already well-known DataTraveler Locker+ drives for consumers. The newer generation is cheaper and works on either Mac OS X or Windows systems by securing your data with hardware-based encryption. It doesn’t seem too difficult; you get to choose your own password the first time you access the drive, something you’ll be able to remember rather than some random pre-generated code. The drive is designed so that you will not have to install any software or drivers to use it. When you need to access your files at a friend’s house you don’t have to clutter up their install with your flash drive software. The Kingston DataLocker+ G2 is available in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB ranging from $12.99 to $49.99 based on size. The 16GB we are looking at today currently sells for $24.99. Let’s go take a look at how this drive looks and exactly how well it works.
The Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G2 comes in the usual USB drive packing – a piece of cardboard/paper giving details about the drive with the unit itself vacuum sealed on top, and all this contained within a hangable package. There is generally not much to a USB stick, and a lot of times people will buy whatever one happens to be hanging near them – especially now that it’s the back-to-school time of year. However, if you do check the specs like I do this one has them listed on the package: 10 MB/s read and 5 MB/s write. This drive also has the advantage of password-protecting your information. Be careful though; just because it’s encrypted and password protected doesn’t mean you will not lose the drive itself. Try not to count on this being your only storage method of such secure documents.
Out of the package it’s pretty much your typical flash drive. However, it does have some weight to it – the case is actually metal rather than just having the appearance of metal like a lot of drives. It’s substantial enough that you’ll at least know it is in your pocket while not adding too much weight to your keys (if that’s where you keep it). It does have a cap though, so if you are like me you might be used to not having the cap much beyond opening up the package. I always seem to leave the cap when I go to print at the library or print shop…
The flash drive is printed with the registered DataTraveler Locker+ G2 and drive size (in this case 16GB). There’s a little indentation that looks like some sort of reset button, but it’s actually the activity light. When plugged in and being accessed, the light emanates a nice blue color, a personal favorite, and lets you know it’s at least doing something. The end of it has an oblong hole all the way through the case allowing for you to add it to your keys, a lanyard, or a piece of string. On the outside, it’s basically the same as any other flash drive. The innards on this one are what make it different.
When you plug it in for the first time, the Locker+ G2 seems like an ordinary drive. However if you open explorer you’ll see a CD-drive and an actual storage drive. In Windows it shows the drive as 15GB of storage, which is to be expected. The CD-drive portion (acting as read-only) has some useful files on it. There is an instruction guide to setting up the password protection, the executable to set up the password, some screenshots, and a user manual. It’s ultimately pretty straightforward, but it does require your patience. With all the encryption to protect your files, this drive isn’t quite what you would call “fast”. It isn’t super slow (you’ll see once we get to the results), but it does take about 65-70 seconds to start up the executable. So if you are as impatient as me opening the file, just sit back and wait. (I later found out that this 70 second problem is actually a USB 3.0 problem – run it with USB 2.0 and it only takes 10 seconds or so to appear.)
After you have your password and user credentials stored, you can start using the protected drive. You can plug it into any computer just like any other drive since there is no installation of drivers/software necessary. In Windows, the AutoRun will pop up, and you should just let it run. A prompt will appear and request a password to access the drive. If you fail to enter your password correctly it will not allow you to get to your data. Fail ten times entering your password and the drive has a “self-destruct” feature and will require the drive to be formatted for the next use; so don’t be randomly guessing what password you used. If you are the owner of the drive and do forget it, you are still out of luck. The same forced format will occur if you need to reset your password. Know the password and do not forget it if you ever want to see your data again. At least you get to set up a password hint.
While in use there will be an icon in the lower right corner in the windows tray. The DT+ G2 icon is clickable to give you more options. From the pop-up menu you can access settings, format the drive, browse, get online support, read the about file, or shut down the drive. The settings menu allows you to change your password/password hint, view/change/add your contact information, and select your current language for the device. For security, to update any of these items you will be prompted for your password. The format option lets you securely format the data partition of the drive; note that the read-only portion that shows up as a CD-rom will not be removed. The browse option lets you look at the contents of the drive while logged in to the drive. Online support obviously needs an internet connection, but once clicked it will automatically navigate you to the support page at Kingston.com where you can get more help. The about feature gives you information about the drive itself such as firmware version and application information. The shutdown is probably one of the more useful parts of the menu as it allows you to properly close and remove the drive.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s a flash drive in all meanings of the word with just a slight modification on how you get to, or don’t get to your data. Although I demonstrated how to set up this device in Windows, there is a similar procedure for the Mac environment as well. For more details, check out the support page at: www.kingston.com/support. I was curious how the drive would respond if it was accessed by a Linux machine. I wondered if Linux not being supported was the quick and dirty way to accessing the data without the password (ultimately defeating the purpose of the drive), so I used Fedora 14 to take a look. It turns out you can see the drive but it’s unusable, meaning you can not access any saved files. It shows the device is available, but it’s an “unknown” drive and doesn’t result in the ability to steal any files.
2.28 x 0.73 x 0.38 inches
32 – 140 F
-4 – 185 F
- Hardware encryption: the best in personal security to keep your data safe.
- Superior password protection: user sets a password to prevent unauthorized access .
- Versatile: works interchangeably between Mac OS X and Windows systems.
- Secure: drive locks down and reformats after 10 invalid login attempts.
- Easy to use: no application installation required.
- Stylish: durable metal casing with built-in key loop.
- Customizable: Co-Logo program available.
- Supports: Windows® 7, Vista®, XP & Mac OS X.
- Guaranteed: five-year warranty with free technical support.
- Capacities: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB.
- Compatibility: designed to USB 2.0 specifications.
- No admin rights required.
Minimum System Requirements:
- USB 2.0 compliant and 3.0 compatible
- Two (2) free consecutive drive letters required for use
All information courtesy of http://www.kingston.com/us/usb/personal_business#dtlpg2
To test Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G2 USB drive, I will run a series of benchmarks to provide as accurate a representation of its performance as possible. Flash Memory Toolkit and SiSoft Sandra will both be used to measure access times and to benchmark read and write speeds in various circumstances. Remember that FMT and Sandra are synthetic benchmarks. To gauge real-world performance, I will also use a set of compressed files of various sizes to measure write speeds under typical usage. These compressed files correspond to those that are used in our product reviews that use the WinRAR benchmark. Let's begin!
- Processor: Core i7 2600K @ 4.4 GHz 100 x 44
- CPU Cooling: Corsair H100
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z68AP-D3
- Memory: Mushkin 991996 Redline PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 16 GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970 Black Edition
- PSU: Antec TruePower New TP-750
- Hard Drives: Corsair Force GT 240 GB SSD
- Case: Corsair 650D
- Optical Drive: N/A
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit SP1
- Card Reader: Transcend USB 3.0 Super Speed Multi-Card Reader (TS-RDF8)
Flash Memory Toolkit 2.0
The first benchmark will use the low level benchmark from Flash Memory Toolkit 2.0. Higher read/write speeds and lower access times are better.
The results are not bad at all. The drive is not as horridly slow as I had imagined. It beats out the speeds it reports capable so I'm satisfied. It's not amazing, but you have to remember the fact that there is encryption involved making your files safer.
The next benchmark will be FMT's 'File Benchmark' that will write files of varying small sizes to the drive to more accurately gauge real world performance. Higher read and write speeds are better.
For the write speeds it does a good job beating out the three and five year old drives. However, when it came to reading data the encryption held it back. It took quite a substantial dive for the read speeds.
SiSoft's Sandra 2012 features a specific benchmark for thumb drives and other externally-based flash media. Similar to Flash Memory Toolkit's testing method, Sandra 2012 writes files of varying sizes to the drive multiple times to measure performance. A sub-benchmark is also conducted that focuses more on sector use. Higher read and write speeds are better.
Removable Storage Benchmark:
No clear leader stands out in this test. It's up and down the charts for each drive at varied file size. They all appear to be "fast enough" across the board.
Testing: Custom Files
Nothing reveals true performance more than actually using the hardware as it was meant to be used. That's why this last benchmark is very simple and something anyone can do. Files of varying sizes, small and large, are transferred to the memory cards and the time taken is recorded. Time measurements are taken using a stopwatch. The stopwatch is started as soon as the Windows file transfer window appears and stopped after it closes. After an individual file is tested, it is then deleted before the next file, and the preceding steps are taken again until testing is complete. Average transfer speeds are then calculated by dividing the real file size by the recorded transfer time. Lower transfer times and higher speeds are better.
Custom File Transfers:
The Kingston encrypted drive performs rather well by winning in both tests. Even though it is only rated to write at 5 MB/s, the drive pulled over 13 MB/s in both the 500 MB and 1000 MB file write tests. Impressive to say the least for a drive with full hardware encryption!
Overall this drive was something different. I cannot say I’d have a real use for a locking drive with encryption in normal day to day use, but the concept is noteworthy. If you are trying to move some important documents between one location and another, this could be something worthwhile. I see it fitting the commercial use, but there are still better developments for them. As a consumer-level product this drive fits the bill fine, but I’m not so sure the marketability is there. Apparently Kingston and its researchers have found otherwise. To me it’s just a larger-than-average thumb drive that is quite a bit slower for moving larger files. I wouldn’t call this drive a fail, because it does do what it is supposed to do. It locks others out of your data and protects it by all means – even if it must destroy that data. However, the drive is a pain to use. Every time you use the drive you need to put in your password. On top of this annoyance, if you aren’t careful or have a type happy keyboard your data will go to format heaven. I’d rather have an annoying process that takes longer for every wrong password or a different process to get the data back, but I guess that would defeat the purpose. If it’s stolen they don’t get your data, but it also costs a lot more than if they stole a regular thumb drive. It’s really up to you how securely your files need to be kept. It’s definitely not a drive meant for everyday use. Nothing is for “everyone”, but this drive is far from being universally accepted. It’s definitely designed for the few of you out there who need secure data storage.
- Allows you to secretly store files
- Constructed with a metal case
- Size options with reasonable prices
- If it’s stolen they still can not access your data
- Not USB 3.0 friendly
- Sorry Linux users…not for you
- If it’s stolen they can create a new password and have a new flash drive