If I had written this review a week earlier, I would have warned you that all its advanced features will only work on Windows XP or Vista, and so - as is unfortunately often the case - Mac or Linux users are left without military-grade self-destructing super memory drives. But that has changed since, and all IronKey products now support Linux distributions above Linux kernel 2.6.
However, since there are issues using Password Manager and the Secure Sessions Service with Firefox 3, it is recommended that you stick with the latest version of two (which you can update without adversely affecting the IronKey) until a solution has been found.
When you first plug the device in (and allow IronKey.exe to run under Vista), you are greeted with a custom window where you can name your drive and choose a password for it. The software is quite attractive, and is visually styled to match the brushed metal look of the stick itself. Having entered your password (and chosen to back it up online - or not), it takes about two minutes for IronKey to set up the various aspects of your key, including the encryption.
Then you can choose to activate the IronKey or leave it untill a later date. The activation process is quite lengthy and complicated, because of several layers of security that need to be enabled and personalised. Once that's done, it will take another two minutes to update the firmware and applications, and then you're good to go (this is by no means because the device itself is slow, as it copied a 715MB media file in one minute and five seconds).
Quite apart from knowing all your ‘sensitive' data is as secure as it's going to get, it's really handy to be able to surf on almost any decent computer anywhere with your own secure browser, including a personalised history, bookmark index, download cache etc. Now when you go to the library you won't have to use the outdated browser that keeps giving you error messages, and you won't have to make sure you've left no traces of personal information on that hotel's computer. This alone would make the IronKey worth its purchasing price for many people. Speaking of price, around £50 for the 1GB version is not cheap for its capacity, but if you need the IronKey's features, it's peanuts for what you're getting. Now if only the IronKey gave me somewhere to put its cap…
If you want a relatively cheap and portable way to make your sensitive data as secure as possible and surf the web privately and securely from almost any computer, the rugged, waterproof and fast IronKey flash drive is currently your best option.
Many thanks to distributor Simms International for providing our review sample.