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Published on October 26th, 2013 | by Greg

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Apricorn Aegis Bio 3.0 USB Hard Drive: Storage At Your Fingers

Fingerprint scanners have come racing back into vogue. For a period of time at the end of the 20th century, it seemed like they were going to be everywhere- security at a swipe. But voiceprint security, retinal scanning, and even more obscure methods seemed to grow in popularity before largely fading, with pop culture references like “My voice is my passport” still decades later being largely ignored for the good old PIN or password for most people and places.

But between the technology in the new iPhone 5S, and the requirement for US Customs to have fingerprints on record, it’s easy to see that they are here to stay. Chalk another win for the humble fingerprint with the Aegis Bio 3.0, a new secure external hard drive from Apricorn. Available in several models from 500GB on up, ours was the largest current 1.5TB model. As you might expect from the name, the drive is USB 3.0 compatible, which means far faster transfer speeds than older USB 2.0 models, about 50 MB/s in our sustained read test and a bit slower during write tests.

We’ve previously tested Apricorn’s secure gear- their Padlock drive featured a nifty built-in number pad for personal PIN security. The two look and feel similar in a few ways, both good and bad. For instance, the security is transparent and data is completely encrypted, all handled in the hardware, which means that the drive can work across any OS easily. Neither requires any external power, allowing them to be totally portable. And they both include a nice integrated cable, which attaches nicely to the case for storage- it’s short, but an extension is included, which is even nicer. One small downside is the lack of any utilities; many external hard disks come with a few tools for simple backup of your computer or disk management but that’s not the case here. Most people won’t miss them, especially considering the folks likely to use a drive like this, but especially for a fingerprint reader there might have been some useful utilities that could have made use of the tech.

The drive isn’t small, but doesn’t feel too bulky either- about the size of one of the new large mega-smartphones. In terms of use, it’s truly plug-and-play, tested across multiple OSes, desktops and laptops. Initial setup can take a few minutes, and registering an fingerprint can take several tries. Those who have gotten used to the sensor on the 5S might find this one a bit annoying to use. In fact, some members of staff had trouble getting it to work at all- it appears to work better on slightly damp hands than bone-dry ones, so washing then drying fingers seemed to help. Others, though, had no issues. Apricorn lists Aegis Bio 3.0 as including “military-grade FIPS PUB 197 validated encryption algorithm capabilities” and “real-time 256-bit AES-XTS encryption”- meaning someone who takes the drives and tries to simply get at the disk inside of the case won’t be able to just bypass the sensor or easily access data inside. And you can have up to five users registered, allowing you to share the drive.

Of course, it might have been nice to include an SSD (solid state drive), but it likely would have added to the cost, which already isn’t cheap. It’s competitive though, since there simply aren’t that many options like it on the market. Available online and in stores now, the model as tested runs around $329, but smaller capacities can be found for around $190.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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