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SRG Sites > NewTechReview > Reviews > Apricorn MicroKey

Apricorn MicroKey

Manufacturer: Apricorn, Inc.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided NewTechReview with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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Transferring files from one PC to another can be accomplished using a variety of mediums. These include floppy disk, super floppy disc, zip disk, jazz drive, CD-R, DVD-R, and more. But with the latest technology, computer companies have found a way to create miniature hard drives. These mini hard drives use the same technology found in the main hard drives of all PCs, but they come in the form of a very small and simple to use device that provides a fast, reliable, and convenient way of storing and transferring files. One such device is the MicroKey from Apricorn.

As it states in the documentation: ďThe MicroKey is a tiny USB 2.0 disk drive, housed inside a protective aluminum shell. It was engineered to be simple, small and fast, and its unique design sets a new standard for mobile storage. The MicroKey stores its data on tiny 1Ē Hard Drive, with up to 8GB of data storage. It connects to any computer using a standard USB 2.0 port. This combination offers extra storage capacity and ultra fast downloads in a small, simple device.Ē When they say up to 8GB, they mean the device comes in 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB sizes. The larger the capacity, the higher the cost, but even the 8GB model is only $149 (retail). I tested the 4GB model.

As per the instructions, under Windows XP all I had to do was plug the MicroKey into one of my available USB ports. I did run into a bit of a space problem where the MicroKey couldnít quite fit into one of my ports because I had another cable plugged into a port right next to it. Luckily, Apricorn remedies this problem by including a USB connection cable for the Apricorn in the package, just in case. After I plugged in the MicroKey, Windows XP automatically detected it, recognized it as a mass storage drive, and displayed its contents in an Explorer window. It was one of the easiest installations Iíve ever gone through on a PC. To add files to the MicroKey, I either copy and pasted them or simply dragged them into the MicroKey window. To delete files from the MicroKey, I just selected the files, right-clicked and chose Delete. Itís just like working with any other drive on your system. You can even reformat the drive, if youíd like. The drive comes formatted in FAT32. This means that files will remain compatible with older operating systems like Windows 98 (although the drive will only work with Win2000 and WinXP). FAT32 is limited to a 4GB individual file size though, so when working with the larger capacity drives, you may want to reformat using NTFS.

The MicroKey package also includes Cryptainer LE and Second Copy 2000 software. Cryptainer LE allows you to create a virtual drive up to 2 GB in size. You can drag and drop files to this drive and have them encrypted with 448 bit Blowfish or AES encryption, which will keep your files safe from prying eyes. You can also send encrypted files via e-mail attachments. Second Copy 2000 is sort of like a backup application, but instead of simply backing up your files, it allows you to synchronize the data between your main hard drive and MicroKey drive. This can be used when you want to backup all your individual folders and files to the MicroKey and be sure both sets of data are the same after you make any changes.

What makes the MicroKey stand out from the rest of the mini hard drive products on the market is that itís made to be extremely rugged. Its casing is made from a durable, crush resistant, aluminum alloy that makes damaging the MicroKey much less likely even when dropped. In addition, the MicroKey features extensive shock mounting that insulates the hard drive from vibration and jolting. Apricorn has even been kind enough to include a hard shell case to carry the MicroKey, which can also be clipped to a belt. But the drive itself can easily be carried in your pocket, if youíd like. Itís smaller than a deck of playing cards and weighs only 2.5 ounces.

There are only three minor problems with the drive: because of the extra rugged shell, even though the weight is only 2.5 ounces, itís still too much to plug in the drive itself and let it hang from a USB port. It puts too much pressure on the USB connection and the drive wonít work in this position. Like I mentioned earlier, Apricorn includes a USB extension cable, which remedies this problem. Secondly, a USB connection cover is not included. So if you carry around the drive in your pocket (and donít use the included case), the USB connector is left exposed and unprotected. Finally, even though the MicroKey can be used with a Mac, it doesnít include any software for the Mac.

The few negatives aside, the ruggedness, ease of use, compact size, and excellent performance of the MicroKey make it a definite winner. You can store your files knowing that they will be safe and secure, transfer your files quickly (using USB 2 although USB 1 is also supported), and transport your files by literally putting them in your pocket or clipping them to your belt.
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