diskAshur M2, hands on: A sturdy and secure SSD, with a frustrating user interface

The portable, safe and rugged diskAshur M2 comes in capacities ranging from 120GB to 2TB.


The portable, safe and rugged diskAshur M2 comes in capacities ranging from 120GB to 2TB.

Impression: iStorage

Supplied in a durable carrying situation, the diskAshur M2 from iStorage is thinner and sleeker than preceding types and has its individual sliding sleeve to shield the keypad from obtaining knocked although it truly is in a bag or pocket, as well as to retain dust out of the USB three.two Micro-B SuperSpeed knowledge and electrical power port on just one end. 

You will find even a rubber gasket that can make the total thing watertight when the sleeve is equipped (IP68, up to thirty minutes in one.5m of drinking water) iStorage also promises it truly is shock and crushproof (up to two.seven ton) and we saw no faults soon after dropping it off a several desks and tables in the business. 

Flash storage isn’t likely to go through the form of head crashes a challenging push could, but additional importantly you will not want it to be uncomplicated to crack open if an attacker would like to try out the form of hardware assault that requires disassembling the system (despite the fact that there are developed-in protections in opposition to the standard bodily and checking attacks, and the parts are encased in resin). 


The diskAshur M2 is supplied with limited USB-A and USB-C cables for system relationship.

Impression: iStorage

The sizing of a little bar of chocolate or a function cell phone, the M2 feels heavy for its sizing but is nicely well balanced you can stand it on just one end if it truly is not plugged in. But the USB-A and USB-C cables supplied are alternatively limited, so it truly is probably likely to end up flat on the desk up coming to your system the place you can sort in the PIN when you want it. That system can be pretty a lot nearly anything with a USB port, which include Android, Chrome, slim shoppers and embedded units, as well as Windows, macOS and Linux, mainly because the hardware encryption indicates you will not want to put in any software program. You can even use the M2 as a boot push. 

Former versions of the diskAshur had a developed-in cable, and the datAshur USB stick wanted an adapter for mobile or USB-C products. Switching that for separate cables can make the M2 additional versatile, but given that USB Micro-B SuperSpeed connectors aren’t particularly typical you can want to have the appropriate cable with you — generating the carrying situation additional of a requirement than a nicety. 

When it truly is unplugged, all the knowledge is automatically encrypted utilizing AES-XTS 256-little bit hardware encryption (make certain any knowledge transfers are completed to start with). The user PIN to unlock the push to use it like a ordinary SSD can be seven to 15 digits prolonged the method blocks uncomplicated repeats and sequential PINs and getting letters on the amount keypad indicates you can use a passphrase that is easier to remember than a string of numbers (we might counsel staying away from the conveniently guessed ideas in the guide however). Even so, you can find a polymer coating so the keys will not wear down and give attackers a hint. 

You will find a large assortment of admin capabilities, from implementing the size of user PINs (and irrespective of whether to involve distinctive characters that use the Change vital) to environment how prolonged the push stays unlocked when it truly is not in energetic use (the default timeout is limited more than enough to annoy most consumers). 

Both of those admins and consumers can flip the push into read through-only method — and if that is established by an admin, consumers are unable to improve it, so you can use this for distributing material without worrying that it will be unintentionally deleted, contaminated by malware or otherwise tampered with. 

If the user PIN is typed in wrong ten situations in a row, it truly is automatically deleted, so you can established just one-time user recovery PINs to enable people today regain obtain to their knowledge. All the preceding diskAshur capabilities are nonetheless there, like the selection of a system reset or a self-destruct PIN that deletes the knowledge, encryption vital and PINs so you can re-difficulty a previously utilized push to one more staff and make certain knowledge deletion. 

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But configuring people, or even generating user PINs, nonetheless requires a fiddly sequence of urgent a variety of combinations of change and lock keys on the system with a variety of digits and observing the three-colour LEDs blink or transform good in patterns that several people today are likely to hassle memorising. Even unlocking the push as a user indicates urgent two keys, typing in the PIN, urgent one more vital and then observing the inexperienced and blue LEDs flash for a several seconds. 

Even with the limits of a numeric keyboard, we go on to locate this unnecessarily advanced and it truly is the most annoying part of iStorage’s otherwise beneficial items. 


Top: reasonable overall performance when copying a 12GB variety of documents. Higher than: much better results when handling big sequential documents.

Photos: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

With a USB three.two Gen one relationship, the M2 can theoretically supply 370MB/s read through and compose speeds, despite the fact that the encryption can sluggish that down. Copying a 12GB variety of documents confirmed alternatively variable overall performance that didn’t get close to the theoretical utmost, but sent identical compose speeds to a USB three. flash push (for comparison we utilized a Kingston DataTraveler Best three. Technology two). CrystalDiskMark showed closer to the theoretical pace with big sequential documents. 

But in use, disk overall performance isn’t likely to sluggish you down — despite the fact that the push settings could. The limited timeout limit meant that equally the benchmarks and the big file copy at first unsuccessful and expected a Windows push fix, with the push light-weight action remaining on even soon after the push had disappeared from Windows Explorer. We found our examination unit would lock soon after a several minutes even soon after we prolonged the timeout to the utmost ninety nine minutes, which was similarly annoying. 

You happen to be also having to pay for the protection, with charges setting up at £155 for the 120GB edition we seemed at the £515 2TB design. 


Impression: iStorage

The diskAshur M2 offers a welcome mix of capabilities from iStorage’s preceding SSD and USB stick types: the just one-time PIN from previously diskAshur types and the protective include from datAshur. It’s also lesser, neater and additional rugged than previously offerings. But the interface proceeds to be opaque and at times disheartening, so make in time for instruction and user guidance.

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