AS gaming enthusiasts, we all know the importance of keeping files backed up – whether it’s saved games, video content being made for a stream, or just important personal paperwork.
But what do you do when you make sure that not only is your data backed up, but also that no-one can touch your shit even if they have the SSD? You want an extra-secure one, and that’s where the Kingston Ironkey Vault Privacy 80 External SSD comes in.
SSDs with security measures aren’t new – I’ve been using a Samsung T7 with fingerprint recognition for a couple of years now – but the Vault Privacy 80 takes things further by having a range of security features designed to ensure that (as its name suggests) your data is secure.
The obvious feature is the recessed colour LCD display (around 60mm x 45mm), on the front of the unit, where you can enter an alphanumeric passcode (between 6 and 64 symbols) – and the letters/numbers location on the screen are randomised each time, so someone trying to dust the screen for fingerprints isn’t going to be able to narrow the pattern down that way.
The touchscreen can be used with your finger but for best effect a stylus is recommended – I also found a retracted biro worked nicely too. You really don’t want to fat-finger the password too often, for reasons that will become apparent shortly.
The unit connects via USB-C (you get two cables in the box; USB-A to USB-C and USB-C to USB-C, plus a neoprene storage case for the SSD) and there’s no software or anything to install – it’s literal plug-and-play on pretty much every PC-based OS including Windows, MacOS, Chrome, and Linux.
When you first fire up the VP80 (which measures 122.5mm x 84.2mm x 18.5mm), you set an admin password, and have the option to set a user password too – you can only have one user in addition to the admin, however.
This isn’t much use for a single user, but might be helpful in an environment where someone is providing the VP80 to someone else for use – if that person forgets their password, the admin person can use theirs to get back in.
Data is encrypted using a FIPS compliant 256-bit XTS-AES system and there’s also a brute-force prevention mechanic in the drive, in that after a certain number of triesd (between 10 and 30, depending on the admin settings), the drive wipes itself.
This is not helpful (quite the opposite) if you’ve got a curious young family member trying to messing with your save game files or see NDA content ahead of the embargo and who is trying to guess or brute force your password, but is very helpful if you’re a character in a James Bond novel and need to keep plans for ultra-secret laser cannon satellites away from SPECTRE.
There’s also a special “read-only” mode, designed for for accessing unknown systems or protecting against malware attacks too.
One thing to note is that this is not a fast SSD – read times were measured via CrystalDiskMark8 as being 272.53MB/s with write times of 253.9MB/s. In practical terms this isn’t exactly lightning speed, but this is intended to be a storage device rather than a “put your games on it and need to access them constantly” device.
Something I can see this being useful for is a content creator with nosy family/flatmates wanting to be absolutely 100% sure something they’ve created stays secure until it’s ready to be uploaded when the embargo lifts. They can record their streams/content, lock it away on the drive, and know that no-one is getting into it without the password, even if it means effectively nuking the drive to prevent that.
If you’ve got data (gaming or otherwise) that you really want to make sure doesn’t get seen by non-approved eyes, the Kingston Ironkey Vault Privacy 80 External SSD offers excellent security at the trade-off of some ease of use; the unit needs a few seconds to boot up each time it’s plugged in and the password thing slows down access further. It’s certainly well beyond most “average consumer” level security, however.
All this comes at a price, however – and unfortunately, that price is extremely steep from a general consumer perspective.
The 960GB review unit only appears to be available to general consumers (at least from ‘established’ outlets, rather than private sale) via Amazon.com.au, and was AUD$564 at time of writing – only a few dollars cheaper than the SanDisk 1050MB/s 4TB Extreme Portable SSD (AUD$578.77 at time of writing).
If you’ve got files – gaming, work, or personal – that you really want to keep secure, then the Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 External SSD will certainly do that, and do it well – but you will have to ask if keeping your on-device data private requires this level of security and financial outlay, and if the security/privacy aspect is worth sacrificing multiple terabytes of storage space for.