I bought one of these Maxtor BlackArmor external hard drives last summer as I was working away from home and wanted a more portable external drive that did not require mains power to function. This drive is the perfect size to carry round tucked into a laptop bag or small rucksack pocket, being only 3"x5"x0.5" in size and weighing approximately 200g. The drive comes with a short (approx 18") USB cable (the drive uses a USB 2.0 interface). I mainly use this drive on my Windows Vista Laptop, but have had no problems using it on other windows machines. Advertised at 320GB, after formatting the available space is closer to 298GB.
The first time you use the hard drive, it will load a read-only partition with the setup software. the software will initialise the hard drive and you will then be asked to set the decryption password (which must be between 6 and 32 characters), which you be asked for in future when you plug the drive into your computer. In addition to this password, you can set the reminder hint. I cannot stress enough how important it is to remember the password (or set a hint that makes sense to you without being obvious), as there is no way to reset the password should you forget it, and without the password, your data is inaccessible. The entire initialisation process takes no more than a minute to complete, and then the drive can be used on any machine with no software installation required.
When the drive is plugged in to a computer (after it has been initialised), it first acts a virtual CD drive, running the BlackArmor Manager program. This program gives you the option of testing that the drive is functioning correctly (which does not require a password and does not affect the data on the drive), changing the password, changing or removing the password hint or unlocking the drive. Selecting the option to unlock the drive will prompt for the decryption password, and if correctly entered will stop the virtual CD drive and allow access to the main hard drive.
I bought this drive from Ebuyer.com for around £60, but since Seagate and Maxtor merged, it has become difficult to track down this specific model, however Seagate have released a new version BlackArmor range, including a 500GB version of this drive.
I have had no problems with this drive and carry it around with me most of the time, particularly when I'm at university or on the train. If you want a portable, fully encrypted and reliable hard drive, you can't go wrong with a BlackArmor drive.
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