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Lenovo ThinkPad Portable Secure Hard Drive - Lenovo ThinkPad Portable Secure Hard Drive

By Riyad Emeran



  • Recommended by TR
Lenovo ThinkPad Portable Secure Hard Drive


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The ThinkPad SHD can have up to ten user access codes assigned to it, along with a single admin code. A user code will give you access to the data on the drive, while the admin code will let you create and delete user codes. The drive comes out of the box with the default code of 1-2-3-4-5-6, which should obviously be changed as soon as possible. Just make sure that you use something memorable, like I thought I had done, only to find that I'd thrown a random digit into the middle of my desired code. You're probably thinking that you should have to verify the code you choose to avoid this kind of thing, and you'd be right. Unfortunately, in my case it appears that I verified the wrong number correctly, if you know what I mean. Maybe I should be working for MI6!

When you plug the drive into a PC it will go into Standby mode, which means that it's powered up, but locked down. Standby mode is indicated by a solid red indicator light. Type in your passcode and, assuming the code is valid, the light will flash red a few times before turning green. Once the green light is activated, your computer will recognise the drive and you'll be able to access its contents. The state of the ThinkPad SHD is completely independent of the computer itself, therefore if you restart your computer with the drive unlocked it will remain unlocked. Once the drive loses power it will lock itself and return to Standby mode once it receives power again.

The ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive is designed to complement a ThinkPad notebook. It has the same tactile black finish, which means that it's less likely to slip out of your hand than a glossy finished portable drive. It also make it less prone to scratches, but even so Lenovo bundles a snug fitting fabric slip case.

Unlike most portable drives, this one doesn't sport a mini-USB port for connection. Instead the ThinkPad SHD has an integrated USB cable, that clips unobtrusively into the chassis. This means that you don't have to remember to carry a cable with you, making it all the more pocketable. If you require a longer cable to reach a particularly remote USB port, that's no problem either - there's a USB extension cable bundled with the drive. And, if you find that a single USB port doesn't provide enough juice to power the drive, you also get another USB cable that plugs into a DC input. The slip case even has a little pocket at the back to hold the extra cables, if you need to carry them with you.


March 2, 2009, 2:42 pm

Looks like a quality piece of kit but I can't help thinking the profit margin might be less if I was able to supply my own hard disk.

Would be nice to know what alternatives there are in this area. I noticed that Icy Box make an AES 128bit encrypted 2.5" SATA enclosure that uses an RFID fob as the key (model IB-220RFID-WH) but can't find any detailed reviews.


March 2, 2009, 8:26 pm

"unless you happen to work for MI6, and then you'll keep your data unencrypted on your notebook and probably leave it on a train."

So TR have deciphered the Quantum Of Solace what else do they know? Spooky.

Brian ONeill

March 2, 2009, 8:51 pm

Is there no easy way to put a password on an external hard drive? Or is there any software you can recommend? I do not need military grade encrypting, just basic security incase i ever lose it. I remember checking this a while ago and i did not just many options, so would be keen to hear any suggestions.


March 2, 2009, 10:14 pm

@Brian ONeill - Military grade encryption needs to be minimum 256-bit AES I think :) As for passwording external drives, it's definitely possible. SwissBit always used to have a SecureLock app on its memory keys that allowed you to password areas, as did Kingston on some devices. I've not come across any third party apps though, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.


March 3, 2009, 3:05 am

True crypt is a great free alternative that i would recommend anyone worried about security should check out. Rob


March 7, 2009, 1:54 pm

I bought this to back up files from my main system (iMac) and use on my XP netbook when travelling abroad. However, the drive will not allow me to write files from the Mac, although I can read files when connected to the Mac. It reads and writes when connected to an XP. This has defeated the purpose I purchased it for.I cannot see anywhere reference to a Windows only environment for full useability. Any ideas?


March 11, 2009, 4:54 pm

Following my grouch above regarding Mac read-only problem, I found one article that suggests a solution - reformatting the unit as FAT32 and reloading the security software - something I'm not sure I want to risk without a little more detail (e.g. I cannot even "see" the security software files on the disk, let alone copy them).


The unit works so nicely in a Windows only environment, and for some being read-only by a Mac is sufficient. But for a Mac user, this falls short


March 16, 2009, 12:35 am

Given that I am not a hard core geek, it took me 3.5 hrs to set three passwords - it is a very cumbersome process. Then, a reference is made to some backup software, but I found none and couldn't tell what to do. I called IBM/Lenovo technical support and they refused to talk with me because, although this is a new device and I had the serial number, part number etc, and the warranty says free phone support for X # of dys, IBM/Lenovo did not have a product registered by me. IBM/Lenovo (two calls totally 1.5 hrx) also said one cannot register the product online nor over the telephone. I resent having my time wasted so I packed up the device and am waiting to get rma authorization. These drives should be plug and play.


March 20, 2009, 4:43 pm


Obviously I'm no fan of this drive because it will not work in a Mac environment, but i found on an XP it was easy to use and did what it says it will. It took me minutes to set up user passwords (not an intuitive process so you have to follow the manual carefully), so I cannot agree with kaj about this.

John Stevens

August 3, 2010, 4:18 am

I purchased a similar product from Istorage, its called the Diskgenie - a great little prooduct with more secure 256 bit hardware encryption (Lenovo has 128 bit). It looks better than the Lenovo as well and works like a dream. I got through to Istorage tech support in less than a minute and they confirmed that the Diskgenie will work with both PCs and MACs if formatted as FAT32. You guys should take a look at their product www.istorage-uk.com

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