Best secure drives 2021: top USB drives to protect your data

The best secure drives make sure that the important files you put in them are kept safe. Using either software or hardware encryption (or best of all, a combination of both), these drives not only give you that storage space you need, but also stop other people accessing and viewing your data. 

The best external hard drives and USB flash drives may be great tools for quickly and easily adding more storage to your device, carrying around documents, and making backups. Sadly, most of them have very few – if any – security measures, which may be fine for day-to-day stuff. 

If you’re using them to store confidential information about yourself or your customers, however, it won’t take much for someone to access their data once someone gets a hold of them. For such data, you’ll need one of the best secure drives, which offer much more robust security.

The best secure drives you’ll find on this page are essential devices for anyone who’s looking for external storage that will keep confidential and important files completely secure. Take a look at our picks.

(Image credit: Desire Athow)

1. Kingston Ironkey D300S

Premium security that comes at a (very) steep price.

Specifications

Storage: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB

Interface: USB 3.1

Reasons to buy

Very sturdy design Water proof

Reasons to avoid

Shockingly expensive

The D300S was announced by Kingston and is an updated version of the D300, launched in 2016, with the suffix S standing for Serialised. It appears to be a standard USB drive, but with a more robust design. However, it’s the price that really stands out. There is a reason why the D300S carries such a premium according to Kingston. The drive uses custom hardware for encryption (FIPS 140-2 Level 3 256-bit) and decryption which eliminates vulnerabilities associated with any process done on the host system. That chip and the rest of the hardware is sealed in a tamper evident epoxy material that hardened when it dried. It’s also waterproof up to 120cm, and can survive knocks and drops as well

2. diskAshur Pro 500GB

An PIN-protected way to make sure your data stays secure.

Specifications

Storage: Up to 2TB

Interface: USB 3.0

Reasons to buy

High levels of security Powerful encryption protection Hard-wearing design,  but light and portable Works across multiple operating systems

Reasons to avoid

High price tagSome availability issues

diskAshur’s products are some of the best secure drives on the market, and the diskAshur Pro is the company’s best external hard drive yet. The key selling point of the diskAshur Pro is its physical keypad that will only grant access to the data stored within upon entering a PIN number. Asides from the physical security (which extends to IP56 water and dust resistance and even a self-destruct feature), the diskAshur Pro also comes with some enviable encryption, sporting XTS-AES 256-bit real-time full disk hardware encryption and EDGE technology to offer even more levels of safety.

(Image credit: Desire Athow)

3. Aegis Secure Key 3NX secure drive

Enhanced encrypted data at a much lower price.

Specifications

Storage: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB

Interface: USB 3.0

Reasons to buy

Very affordable Military-grade protection Extensive warranty

Reasons to avoid

Small size could make it easy to misplace

If you need to have small amounts of sensitive data being carried around, then the 3NX could well be a life saver. It brings advanced data protection features to a mainstream market thanks to its attractive low price ($59 for the 2GB/4GB model) and $189 for the 128GB one. What you do get is some military grade, enterprise-level features like FIPS 140-2 level 3, real time hardware-based encryption, a platform-agnostic setup and a rugged extruded aluminum enclosure. The data is encrypted using an onboard 10-digit keypad and is powered by an onboard battery.

4. Aegis Secure Key 3Z

A super-tough USB storage option for everything you hold dear.

Specifications

Storage: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB

Interface: USB 3.1

Reasons to buy

Super secure Hard-wearing design Simple set-up and use

Reasons to avoid

High price tag

The ultra-rugged Aegis Secure Key 3Z is designed to keep the data safe for people who regularly work outdoors or on the road, with a rubber exterior, which is IP58 protective against dust and water, safeguards a rugged aluminium build inside and out, meaning that there is no easy way to break into this device. Meanwhile, it also features a physical keypad for keeping your data safe and secure. It’s pricey, but well worth the investment.

5. Apricorn Aegis Secure Key USB 3.0 480GB flash drive

An excellent alternative to other secure solutions on the market

Specifications

Storage: 480GB

Interface: USB 3.0

Reasons to buy

Massive capacity Exceptional value for money (for a secure drive)

Reasons to avoid

Initial installation can be cumbersomeBig so be careful with USB ports

The Apricorn Aegis Secure Key comes with a full 10-key alphanumeric keypad with two function keys plus three status lights. It then slots into a hardened epoxy-potted rugged aluminum enclosure which makes it dust and waterproof; the device is also certified IP-58 and at 46g and 93mm long. It also features built-in hardware encryption (256-bit AES) which means that it is totally independent from the host client and OS-agnostic. No keyloggers and no BadUSB vulnerability. The Aegis Secure Key has received a FIPS 140-2 level 3 accreditation from NIST, the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology, which oversees US government IT and computer security, which means this is one of the most secure drives you can buy.

6. Kingston Ironkey D300

The best secure drive for those looking for affordable peace of mind

Specifications

Storage: 8GB

Interface: USB 3.0

Reasons to buy

Durable Comes with AES-256 encryption

Reasons to avoid

Expensive on a per GB basisCan’t be used out of the box

The Kingston Ironkey D300 (IKD300/8GB) comes with software security that can make it a bit complicated and confusing to begin with (it will initially show up on your PC as a CD drive with 14.4MB capacity), but once you’ve configured it, which includes setting a password, you’ll have a very secure drive. With its cap on, it is waterproof (up to 4ft) and dustproof and at 51g, feels solid. More importantly though, the more compelling protection happens inside the device itself. It is a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified device with 256-bit AES hardware encryption. There is a hardware cryptographic module inside the device itself which means that the encryption and decryption is done on the drive rather than on the host PC, with digitally signed firmware which makes the D300 immune to the notorious BadUSB exploit.

January 30, 2021
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