Corsair is quite a familiar name around these parts. We've reviewed three of their four power supplies, and I've had the pleasure of personally using their SDRAM product for years. Of course, Corsair's primary product line is their memory, and that includes flash memory. Today, I'm having my way with a product that's certainly not unusual for Corsair, but may be considered unusual for jonnyGURU.com; a flash memory product called the "Flash Padlock."
You may have noticed that every once in a while we break away from the usual PSU review with something a little different. Decisions are made to review these "other" items based on the items uniqueness. So what makes Corsair's newest flash memory effort "unique?" The fact that one can "lock" their data on the Flash Padlock makes it unique, but not just that... the locking of the data is not done with software encryption like other "secure" flash media devices.
The Corsair Flash Padlock actually uses a self-contained, hardware authentication to access data. A pin is entered onto an integrated touchpad that either "locks" or "releases" the data, and because the lock is hardware based, it is not restricted by different platforms, drivers, etc.
The first thing we need to tackle is the nearly impenetrable plastic packaging encasing the Corsair Flash Padlock. This is where I get to put a small plug in for the Black & Decker Cordless Power Scissors. I got a pair of these for Father's Day this year. At first I thought it was a joke gift, but they've been great. I can't wait until Christmas because I will get to be the hero that's capable of opening all of the toys quickly and cleanly.
Once inside the packaging, I can pull all of the neat little cards out and get a good look at what Corsair is trying to sell here...
So above is a nice little diagram of the Flash Padlock. It looks very much like a simple thumb drive. Simple in that the USB plug doesn't retract or fold. There is a cap that can get potentially get lost.
Along the top of the flash drive, we see the touch pad which includes locked and unlocked indicators, the numeric touchpad for entering a security code, a "key button" that is used to lock and unlock the drive and a "access indicator" that flashes as data is written and read to and from the drive.
Above is a photo of the actual Flash Padlock outside of the package. You'll note that the locked, unlocked and access indicators aren't actually red, green and blue. They are white. The do light up red, green and blue though.
Above is a picture of the front of the card inside the packaging. As you can see, Corsair has four shout outs here. These are explained in more detail below....
First, there's the "Customizable PIN." That means you can use your own PIN to lock the drive. PIN's can be any number you choose up to ten digits.
Next is "Auto-Locking." The flash drive will automatically lock itself 15 seconds after it's been unplugged from the computer's USB port.
"Easy to Use." We'll see about that! :)
"Plug-n-Play." Because the PIN programming is built into the hardware, the Flash Padlock does not require drivers or any special software to function. This makes it more universal than some similar units.
Finally, we have a "family photo" of everything included in the package. From left to right, we have a nylon lanyard, the actual Flash Padlock product and a 24" long USB extension cable.
So let's go through using this device step by step. The first thing I want to do is set up my combination. I do this by pressing down the key button. As I do this, the green "unlocked" icon flashes. Once both the red "locked" and green "unlocked" icons stay solid (which takes about three seconds) I have fifteen seconds to type in a new combination. If I don't enter a new password in fifteen seconds, the lights go out and I have to start this process over again.
After I punch in my new combination, I press the key button a second time. At this moment, the red "locked" and green "unlocked" icons start flashing. I now have another fifteen seconds to confirm my combination by punching it in a second time. Again, if I do not complete this process in fifteen seconds, the lights all go out and I must start this process over from the beginning.
After I've confirmed the new combination, I press the key button for a third time and watch the green "unlocked" icon flash. At this moment, the Flash Padlock is actually unlocked. After fifteen seconds, the Flash Padlock will be locked and will require the PIN combination to unlock.
So let's plug the locked Flash Padlock in and see what happens....
As soon as the drive is plugged in, the red "locked" LED is lit. Furthermore, the drive does not show up as a drive letter.
The instruction sheet states that you can unlock the Flash Padlock while it's plugged into the PC. Despite pressing the key button a number of times while the unit was plugged in, I could not get any LED other than the red "unlocked" icon to light up. The instructions state that I should be able to unlock the Flash Padlock while it's plugged into my PC and my contact at Corsair tried several units and confirmed that they worked for him. Either I have a unit that's defective in this particular manner (that would be very odd) or there's some sort of device conflict with my laptop.
So I unplugged the Flash Padlock from the USB port and the red light started to flash. This means that the drive is "locking." I need to wait until it stops flashing and goes out before I can punch in my combination. It doesn't say this in the instructions. I found this out through trying to punch in my combination while the light flashed.
Once the LED goes out, I press the key button and the red "locked" LED begins to flash. I punch in my combination and then, when I'm done, the green "unlocked" LED begins to flash. The green LED will now flash for fifteen seconds. This is the amount of time I have to plug the drive into the USB port before it locks itself back up. As soon as the unit is plugged into the computer's USB port, the green light turns solid and the computer recognizes the device as a removable drive.
I can now copy files over to the Flash Padlock. This is when the blue LED under the Corsair logo flashes.
Once I'm done with the Flash Padlock, I can unplug it from the USB port of the computer and the green "unlocked" LED begins to flash. After fifteen seconds, the light goes out and the drive is once again locked.
If I want to change the combination, all I have to do is unlock the drive. Once the drive is unlocked and while the green "unlocked" icon is flashing, I simply need to repeat the process used to set up the combination initially to change it.
Overall, I'm very pleased with the Flash Padlock. If you need portability and security, this thing nails it. The hardware security is really key here. Say you work for a major manufacturer and have top secret, NDA documents that you need to take to your next presentation. If the data falls into the wrong hands, you're screwed. But you also don't want to have to deal with installing drivers and proprietary software when you get to the conference room where you need to make your presentation. The answer? The Flash Padlock. Yes, it's a niche market, but it's a niche that Corsair has filled perfectly. Is the flash memory fast? No. In fact, it's not even Ready Boost ready, but it's not made for that. It's made to keep your data secure, yet easily accessible.
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