With revenue in the multi-billion dollars, Kingston is the largest DRAM and flash memory product vendor in the world. While their strongest suit is in memory modules and USB/flash card storage, they are also a major player in the SSD market, which, besides internal storage, includes portable SSDs, too.
Today we are taking a look at the Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 External SSD in the 1 TB variant. Kingston’s newest external drive offers a very specialized capability. All data is encrypted at all times and you can only unlock it by entering the correct passcode on the SSD’s integrated touch-screen. This makes the drive a great choice for systems where you can’t be 100% sure if they are compromised, i.e. a keylogger is installed that would snatch up your password while typing. Before unlocking, the VP80ES will ask if you want to connect in read-only mode, so you can read data, but it can’t be written to. Internally, the IKVP80 uses an ARM microcontroller running custom software that encrypts all data that passes through it using FIPS 197 certified XTS-AES 256-bit encryption. Most of you have probably heard of AES encryption, with the “256” number denoting the key length, i.e. how secure it is. “XTS” is a special encryption mode that was invented for block-based storage devices (like SSDs and HDDs). Kingston specifies up to 250 MB/s for the transfer rates of the IronKey 80, which isn’t a lot. It seems the bottleneck is the encryption engine, not the underlying storage, more on that later in our testing. The connection to the host machine is made over a USB-C USB 3.2 Gen 1 connection, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 C-to-A adapter cable is included in the box. Due to its hardware-only design, the IronKey Vault Privacy 80 is compatible not only with Windows, but with all operating systems that support USB mass storage, which includes macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Raspberry Pi.
Kingston offers the IronKey Vault Privacy 80 in capacities of 480 GB ($285), 960 GB ($350) and 1920 GB ($500), all these models come with a three-year warranty.