Dear FileSlinger™ clients, colleagues, and friends:
It’s time to make backups again, and time for me to return to the subject of backup hardware. I’ve talked about external hard drives more than once before as the easiest way to keep your entire computer backed up. I’ve also talked about the value of having at least some of your backups stored a nice safe distance from the computer you’re backing up.
I haven’t talked about what might happen if someone picked the XHD up and walked out of the office with it.
It’s possible to encrypt just about any file, and you can even password-protect a whole drive. I just tested a trial version of Magic Lab Software’s StorageCrypt 2.0 and in less than 5 minutes was able to make my drive totally invisible—the only way to get at the files on it was to enter the correct password in StorageCrypt.
There are lots of encryption programs out there, as a quick search on ‘drive encryption’ will reveal. It’s a good idea to keep at least some of your data (like passwords) in an encrypted file, even if you only use the basic password protection that comes with your operating system.
But for those who want to combine security with simplicity, MicroSolutions has invented the LockBox, an external hard drive with one-button security. It comes with fingerprint-recognition software which controls access to the drive. Install the software, connect the drive, and put your finger on the scanner.
Reviewers rate the LockBox high for ease of use and because of its Really Cool Gadget appeal. They also like the fact that you can create up to 8 separate partitions so different people can have secure storage on the same drive. It has a proprietary USB 2.0 connection, so it’s fast (as long as you have USB 2.0 on your machine). The LockBox comes in 80, 120, and 200 GB capacities, starting at $200—the fingerprint technology makes it pricer per gigabyte than an ordinary external hard drive.
I don’t know how the LockBox would interact with drive mirroring software, because none of the reviews mentions it, but since the fingerprint recognition technology requires Windows to operate, I don’t think this would be a good drive to depend on to rescue your machine from a total collapse.
If you hate trying to create and remember passwords, share an office, or just have sensitive information you want to keep away from prying eyes, the LockBox could be a good option.
Before you rush out and buy one, though, remember that your fingerprints deserve as much privacy as your data. Be careful where you leave them.
By next week, the site transfer should be finished. Even if it isn’t, I’ll be back to remind you to make backups—and to talk, at last, about backup software for the Mac.
Until next week,