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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


Our Score:


I expected performance to be down on normal portable drives, since the data is having to be encrypted and decrypted when written and read, but the ThinkPad SHD still showed a good turn of speed. Writing a 1GB single file to the drive returned 16MB/s, while reading back the same file resulted in a transfer rate of 17MB/s. Firing up the read test in HDTune returned almost identical figures. This means that the ThinkPad SHD isn't the fastest portable hard disk out there, but it also means that the encrypted nature of the drive hasn't noticeably slowed it down either.

Unsurprisingly, the ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive doesn't come cheap, with this 160GB version carrying a price tag of £108. To put that into context, something like a 320GB Western Digital Passport portable hard drive can be had for less than £70 online. So, you clearly won't be buying the ThinkPad SHD for its cost per gigabyte. That said, if keeping your data secure is paramount, this Lenovo drive makes a very good case for itself.


Like any niche product, you either need the security features of the Lenovo ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive or you don't. The ThinkPad SHD offers simple, but extremely effective security in a portable storage device, and if you need to keep your data protected at all times it's a dream come true. It may be more expensive than other portable drives, but none of them can protect your files from prying eyes.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 8
  • Features 10


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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