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Kingston DataTraveler 6000 USB Review

By on November 1, 2011
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256-bit AES hardware encryption at your fingertips.

Good: Hardware level 256-bit encryption; Simple setup; Allows 10 attempts to log in; Securely wipes after 10th failed attempt; Faster speeds on USB 3.0 ports
Bad: Slow transfer speeds
Price: AED 250 (2GB)
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Now every time I plugged in our 2GB DataTraveler 6000 test unit, I only saw a small 68MB drive being recognized by Win 7, even in Disk Manager. It was only after I put in the correct password by launching the DT6000 application that the rest of the 1.76GB partition showed up. A small System Tray icon launches that will also allow you to change the information on the flash drive, format it, or remove it. You cannot remove either partition directly from Windows; it always gives an error if you try.

Now, given that this is a USB 2.0 drive and is based on dual-channel MLC NAND, I wasn’t expecting anything amazing speed wise. Indeed, the DataTraveler 6000 has a rated speed of 11Mbps read and 5Mbps write, which may seem pre-historical slow to many, but with such intense data encryption on a hardware level also comes slower transfer speeds. So when I transferred a collection of MP3s and high-res Jpegs, and even a moderate 913MB video file, the data transfer rate consistently remained around 4.55 to 4.95Mbps. Incidentally when I plugged in the DataTraveler into a USB 3.0 port, the same tests yielded better transfer rates, between 6.75 to 7.25Mbps.

I tried a simple trick, of formatting the DataTraveler 6000. While I could format the encrypted partition directly from Windows, the login partition containing the login software was write protected, so I couldn’t erase it. There goes that smartass theory out of the window.

And now for the ultimate test, I entered the wrong password 10 times; in the last 3 times it warned me of the number of tries left before the drive will be locked. After the 10th attempt, this is what I got.

So yeah, that worked out nicely. After this warning I was asked to input a new password and the dialog box got busy as it formatted the flash drive in the background.

So if you’re really worried about your data being stolen, or your company requires you to have FIPS 140-2 Level 3 hardware encrypted drives, I can scarcely think of a better alternative. Now I can’t say how secure the DataTraveler 6000 is compared to a simple USB with TrueCrypt on it; I simply don’t have the technical know-how to try to break a 256-bit AES encryption. As such, if you don’t want the hassle of TrueCrypt or using any other encryption software, it doesn’t get any simpler and effective to protect your data than the DataTraveler 6000 flash drives.

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About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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