Dec 02 2008
At the end of October I was invited to a dinner put on by Seagate in San Francisco at Shanghai 1930 (highly recommend, BTW), along with a few other bloggers and a number of press folks. I got to talk to a number of the Seagate executives and ended up sitting next to Luther Martin, the Chief Architect at Voltage Security. The conversation was very fluid, ranging from politics to various security topics to the then upcoming holiday season. There was nothing revolutionary in the conversation, though one of the execs in charge of consumer electronics said he felt very good about the future, since storage and backup in the home have barely scratched the surface of the market. Finally on the way out, they handed each of us a Maxtor BlackArmor 320Gb external hard drive.
The Maxtor drive is very nice, sleek and small. It comes with a fairly short USB cable, pretty standard for these drives, and has a bright blue LED on the front to indicate activity. And when I say bright, I mean it; the drive light’s up my office late at night and I really wish it had a way to dim or turn off the light, but that’s a minor quible. When I plugged in the drive and started the software installation, it asked for the Security ID code from the back of the drive and a password, then acted just like any other drive on my computer. Except none of my other drives are encrypted using AES-128 and require their own password before they’ll allow access.
I’ve been running an older Maxtor Shared Storage drive on my network for several years now and love it. It sits on the shelf and every night my files and my wife’s files get backed up over the network and I feel a bit more secure. About every 3-4 months I take the whole backup and copy it to a second external drive hooked to the MSS drive via UPS, and once a year I copy those backups to a second external drive. I’ve had drives fail on me before and I’m not willing to take a chance that my data would be lost in case of a drive failure. Yes, I’m paranoid, but I’m a security professional and I’m supposed to be paranoid. The MSS runs a small program called Maxtor Quick Start that ran at startup and backed up everything, or at least it did until I installed the latest version of Maxtor’s software, Maxtor Manager.
I like the new Maxtor Manager, it works seamlessly, it backs up everything I want it to at Midnight every day, and my test restores have worked well so far. The one issue I have with it is that it disabled Maxtor Quick Start from starting automatically upon bootup and doesn’t recognize my Maxtor Shared Storage Drive. I can still start Quick Start manually and do backups to the networked drive by hand, but it doesn’t give me quite the same feeling of security I had before. It is slightly redundant, I admit, since the BlackArmor drive is backing up the same drives nightly, but I’ve already stated that I’m a paranoid who only feels safe when I’ve got multiple copies of my data on backup.
Other than the minor issues around my network and the bright blue LED, I love the Maxtor Black Armor drive. I’m seriously considering purchasing one for a family member who’s in need of an external drive, especially since they aren’t any more expensive than your average external drive ($108 on Amazon for a 320Gb version). The added security of having the encryption on the drive might not matter to many home users, but for folks like me who regularly work on sensitive documents, it’s a huge blessing and let’s me sleep a little better at night. My issues with the software won’t affect most users and the backup software is easy enough to use that my luddite of a brother could install it and run it without any help from me. Which is good, since I don’t do tech support, even for family.