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Maxtor BlackArmor 160GB Encrypted Portable Drive
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: Maxtor
Source: Maxtor
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Maxtor BlackArmor 160GB Encrypted Portable Drive
August 13, 2008

For years Maxtor has been one of the most recognizable names in data storage, but since they were acquired by Seagate a few years ago the focus of their products has shifted. The brand name can still be found on a variety of interesting products, but where they once offered a mix of internal and external hard drives, the line up is now dominated by special function external hard drives.

The promotional image above provides an overview of the product to be reviewed, the BlackArmor 160GB encrypted portable drive. This compact external hard drive is available with a capacity of 160GB and 320GB, and while the outside looks pretty nice, it is definitely what is inside that makes the BlackArmor special.

Before taking a look at the BlackArmor 160GB drive provided for review, let's look at some published data on it taken from the Maxtor website.

Features & Benefits:

» Hardware-Based Full-Disc Encryption: Prohibits access without a password, no exceptions-not even a professional data recovery service can access the data without the password.

» KeyErase™: Permanent removal of encryption key allows secure redeployment of the drive.

» USB Powered: Powers your drive and ensures fast data transfer-no clunky power adapter to carry.

» 5400RPM, 8MB Cache Buffer: For fast drive performance and fast access to your files.

» Backup Software: Maxtor Manager software lets you easily set your automated backup schedule, sync to multiple computers, and restore files.


» Capacity (Model #): 160GB (STM901603BAA1E1-RK)
» RPM: 5400
» Cache Buffer: 8MB
» Interface: USB 2.0
» Bus Transfer Rate: USB 2.0 480MB/sec
» Dimensions: 5.17" H x 3.32" W x 0.67" L [131.2 mm x 84.2 mm x 16.9 mm]
» Weight: 7.20 oz [204.12 g]
» Warranty: 5 years
» Compatibility: PC
» PC Requirements:
   » Pentium III, 500 MHz equivalent processor or higher
   » Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business or XP Home, Professional, MCE
   » 256MB RAM or more as required by operating system
   » Internet connection for software updates
   » 1 available USB port

While this is basically a USB external hard drive that could work with any operating system, if you want to take advantage of all of the extra features you will need to have a system matching the PC requirements listed above. The software is for Windows based computers only, but at least they have all of the latest versions covered.

Maxtor describes their BlackArmor product as an "always encrypted, government grade, secure portable storage solution designed for carrying your sensitive business and personal data with you." This isn't your run-of-the-mill software encryption that can be added to any drive, but true hardware encryption certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to be government-grade AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption.

While I won't claim to have the knowledge and skills to put this drive to the ultimate test from a security stand point, this review will provide an overview of the security, as well analyzing its basic features and performance.

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