Setting up the drive for use
Because I used a MacBook Pro to test this drive, the autorun feature did not automatically boot up the drive's setup window when I plugged the drive into the USB port. As the drive's manual instructed, I simply opened the drive's file system and selected the start.exe folder, and off I went. (Note: The setup window is also where you configure your administrator account and password for corporate control of multiple F200 flash drives).
The first thing the setup procedure asks for is your language (English is the default). It then asks you to personalize the drive. You can choose "standard" or "custom." By choosing "standard," you get only the biometric (fingerprint) security option, with no need for two-factor (password) authentication.
Like most good USB sticks with encryption, the Defender allows 10 password attempts before the drive permanently locks and requires a user to reformat it, wiping all data stored on it.
The default setting is for the entire drive to become one private partition, but you can also create multiple partitions. The ability to create multiple partitions on a flash drive is relatively new but by no means unique.
On the performance side, the F200 fell short. Using Simpli Software's HD Tach benchmarking software, the drive revealed an average sequential read speed of 18.6MB/sec., a burst speed of 19.8MB/sec., a random access time of 0.8 milliseconds and a CPU utilization rate of 9%.
I then tested it with the ATTO Disk Benchmark software. This freeware provides you with both read and write speeds. The drive's read speed again peaked at 18.4MB/sec. Its write speed peaked at 8.1MB/sec.
I compared it against the IronKey Secure Flash Drive, which Computerworld reviewed a couple of years ago. The IronKey is also FIPS Level 3-validated, and has anti-malware and remote administrative control features.
HD Tach showed that the IronKey had a burst speed of 31MB/sec., an average read rate of 29.6MB/sec. and a 6-millisecond random access rate. In other words, the IronKey is almost twice as fast as the F200. (The IronKey's CPU utilization rate was also, at 22%, vastly higher than any other drive we tested.)
When it comes to pricing, Imation's Defender F200 seems high, but you have to remember that you're paying for an extremely secure device.
The drive comes in capacities ranging from 1GB for a suggested retail price of $99 to 32GB for $349. As of this writing, it was only available to resellers, but it should be on the general market soon.
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