iStorage diskAshur PRO2 USB 3.1 Ultra Secure HDD Review

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iStorage diskAshur Pro2 feature

Play3r is no stranger to the diskAshur series of ultra-secure hard drives from iStorage, with Gavin having taken a look at the 1TB diskAshur2 back in August of 2017. When iStorage reached out with the news that their diskAshur PRO2 had recently won more awards, including the Cyber Defense Magazine 2019 for ‘Best Encryption Product’, we were keen to take a look.

Here we have the 2TB HDD version of the diskAshur PRO2.

iStorage diskAshur Pro2 box

iStorage diskAshur PRO2 Specifications & Features

Capacity 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB & 5TB
Data Transfer Speed Up to: Read 148 MBps / Write 140 MBps
Power Supply USB Bus Powered
Dimensions (W, D, H) 124 mm x 84 mm x 20 mm (500GB,1/2TB) | 124mm x 84mm x 28mm (3/4/5TB)
Weight 500GB/1/2TB max. 225 grams approx. | 3/4/5TB max. 331 grams approx
Approvals FIPS PUB 197 Validated, FCC, CE, RoHS, WEEE, TAA Compliant
Accreditations FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3 (US)NCSC CPA (UK)NLNCSA BSPA (NL) & NATO Restricted level  – certified
Interface Super Speed USB 3.1 – up to 5Gbps. Backward compatible with USB 3.0/2.0/1.1
Operating System Compatibility MS Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, Chrome, Thin Clients, Zero Clients and embedded systems
Hardware Data Encryption Real-Time Military Grade AES-XTS 256-bit Full-Disk Hardware Encryption
Warranty 2 Years
iStorage Part Number IS-DAP2-256-XXXX-C-G  (XXXX = Capacity)
Box Contents Portable Hard Drive, Protective Carry Case and Quick Start Guide
  • Common Criteria EAL4+ ready on-board secure microprocessor
  • Real-time military grade AES-XTS 256-bit Full-Disk Hardware Encryption
  • FIPS PUB 197 Validated Encryption Algorithm
  • Encryption keys are always encrypted while at rest
  • Brute Force Hack Defence Mechanism
  • Tamper Proof and Tamper Evident Design
  • Immune to BadUSB
  • Water & Dust Resistant – IP 56 certified
  • Epoxy coated wear resistant keypad
  • No speed degradation – as fast as any non-encrypted USB 3.1 HDD
  • Desk Lock Slot
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3 (US), NCSC CPA (UK), NLNCSA BSPA (NL) & NATO Restricted level Certified.
  • No software or drivers required – 100% Hardware Encryption
  • Read-Only (Write Protect) & Read/Write modes
  • PIN authenticated – Supports Admin and User Independent PINs 7-15 digits in length
  • Self-Destruct Feature
  • Drive Reset Feature for easy redeployment
  • Super Speed USB 3.1 with integrated cable
  • Unattended Auto-Lock feature
  • No admin rights needed
  • OS & Platform Independent – Works on any device with a USB port
  • All components covered with a layer of super tough epoxy resin

iStorage diskAshur PRO2 Closer Look

For those already familiar with encrypted hard drives from iStorage, the diskAshur PRO2 will look very familiar. A solid outer body, with a softer rubber banding running all around the outer edge. Packaged with the unit itself is a soft foam lined carry case, with a zip fastener and carry handle.

iStorage diskAshur Pro2 contents

From the size of the unit, it’s clear that this HDD version must be using a 2.5” mechanical drive inside. To the front side you have the numerical keypad, with epoxy coated keys able to withstand long term use without any damage.

iStorage diskAshur Pro2 keypad

Just above the keypad are three LEDs, indicating the status of the unit, whether it be secured, unlocked or in admin mode. These same LEDs also provide feedback when performing any admin tasks in that particular mode.

The unit has a self-contained USB 3.1 lead, which sits snugly into the right-hand side of the body, which releases from a little retainer clip when you need to plug it in. The cable itself is just 12cm long, but that should be enough to connect it to a laptop. If you are connecting to a desktop, you may require an extension lead.

iStorage diskAshur Pro2 unit

To the left hand side we have a Kensington lock slot, should you wish to secure it…and these drives aren’t cheap, so although you can be confident your data will be safe, you still wouldn’t want to lose your investment in the unit itself.

iStorage diskAshur Pro2 base

iStorage diskAshur PRO2 Usage & Performance

In addition to the software defences included within the drive, the keypad is a standalone gateway to the drive, requiring no software whatsoever. Out of the box, you access the drive using the default Admin password of 11223344. Clearly you will want to change that as soon as possible, especially given that I’ve just told everyone what it is!

Along with the admin passcode, you can also add up to four user profiles, handy if you plan to provide one of these units to employees but want to retain the admin code yourself.

The coolest feature is no doubt the “self-destruct”, which initiates a complete wipe of the contents and all passcodes stored on the drive with the use of a pre-programmed PIN. It doesn’t internally combust with smoke billowing from it Mission Impossible style, but a great feature none-the-less.

With the model on show here today being one the HDD varieties, the read-write performance was never going to blisteringly fast, but we still ran it through CrystalDiskMark version 6 anyway.

iStorage diskAshur Pro2 results

Since we last tested the performance of the diskAshur2 in 2017, CrystalDiskMark has undergone a few tweaks, which means that one of the four tests from version 5 of the software is now obsolete.

With a rated read speed of 148MB/s and a write speed of 140MB/s, the actual of performance in our real-world test was really quite close to those figures, and was well in excess of the speeds we saw from the diskAshur2 a couple of years back. It would be interesting to see how the SSD counterpart of the diskAshur PRO2 fares.

iStorage diskAshur Pro2 CDM

iStorage diskAshur PRO2 Review: The Verdict

There is no getting away from the fact that the diskAshur PRO2 is expensive. The 2TB version we have here has an RRP of £329, but can be bought at the time of writing at the slightly lower price of £300 at Amazon UK.

If we put the price aside for a moment, this thing is a premium product. Build quality is rock solid, and it couldn’t be easier to use. Given that a huge amount of security failures are down to human error, that’s a really big selling point here.

Performance is as good as you can expect from a mechanical hard drive, but if you want faster speeds, then the 2TB SSD version will set you back an eye popping £1,049!

What’s hot:

  • Rock solid design
  • Cutting edge security hardware and integrated software
  • Real world test speeds close to claims

What’s not:

  • Very expensive

It really comes down to whether a user, company or organisation are willing to pay the premium price, for this premium product. There is no better product on the market, no product that has won as many awards, and no companies that have won the accolades that iStorage have.

Is the security that the diskAshur PRO2 worth the price? Just ask those companies that have had catastrophic data leaks and have lost millions because of it.

Our Platinum award is given to the products that are the best of the best, irrespective of cost…and that’s what I’m giving the iStorage diskAshur PRO2.

iStorage diskAshur PRO2 platinum award

Thanks to iStorage for sending a sample of the diskAshur PRO2 in for review.

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