Inspecting and Using the Flash Padlock
As you know by now, the Flash Padlock isn't your ordinary flash drive, and to that effect, it certainly doesn't look like any other flash drive we've seen. For starters, it has a combination keypad across the top. It also features an unlocked icon that has a green LED behind it and a locked icon that has a red LED behind it.
Even when not plugged in, the Flash Padlock's status indicators will flash to indicate the state (locked or unlocked) of the drive. You may wonder how this is possible. Well, the Flash Padlock is powered by a 3V lithium battery.
Another aspect that makes the Flash Padlock not your ordinary flash drive is its size. In this case, we're talking about physical size not storage capacity. By today's flash standards, the Flash Padlock is a giant. As you can see in the two pictures above, the Flash Padlock is quite a bit larger than the Kingston DataTraveler that we recently featured in our flash drive round-up article. Considering its size, you may have thought it had at least eight or 16 gigabytes of storage, but at the time of this writing, the Flash Padlock was only available in 1GB and 2GB flavors. Its size is definitely what we like the least about this drive, but it was necessary to accomodate the buttons and additional electronics.
The step-by-step instructions in the manual do a very good job of clearly explaining how to use the Flash Padlock, including how to set up a PIN, unlock the drive, and set up a new PIN. During our experience of actually using the Flash Padlock so far, we have experienced no problems with the drive whatsoever. It has performed as advertised and described.
Before setting a PIN, we plugged in the drive to see what would happen. Because it was unlocked and had no PIN set, it behaved just like any other USB flash drive. There's not much point in having this drive and not using the security, right? After following the instructions to establish our PIN, the drive was locked. At this point, we went ahead and plugged in the drive in its locked state just to see what it would do and to make sure the data on it wasn't accessible. We were pleased to see that the PC didn't even know a USB drive had been plugged in after we inserted the Flash Padlock into a USB port on our test system. The drive was completely inaccessible, and its red locked LED indicator shined brightly.
Next, we unplugged the locked Padlock from our PC and proceeded to unlock it, which is as simple as pushing the key button, punching in the PIN, and pushing the key button again. The drive is then unlocked, and you have approximately 15 seconds to plug the drive into a USB port. If you do not plug it in within 15 seconds, it will automatically lock itself. So, we unlocked the drive and plugged it in. The behavior is just like any other flash drive you are accustomed to at this point. You use the drive and then safely remove it when you are done. After removing the Flash Padlock, its auto-locking feature will secure the drive in about 15 seconds.
Overall, we are quite pleased with how Corsair implemented the Flash Padlock's security. It's a simple and slick hardware-based solution for protecting your data. Additionally, the security is quite flexible, considering that your PIN can be one to 10 digits. Even though there are only five buttons to enter your PIN, the Flash Padlock still allows for millions of possible PINs, which greatly discourages someone from trying to guess your PIN.