Apricorn USB 3.0 Aegis Padlock DT drive: Up to 12TB of hardware-based encrypted storage

Securing sensitive data stored on external hard drives is usually a minefield, especially if you are looking for cross-platform compatibility. The Apricorn USB 3.0 Aegis Padlock DT drive is the solution to this problem.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Video: NAS: Should you build or buy?

External hard drives are a great backup and portability solution, but if they are used to store sensitive data then they can also be a security minefield.

Enter the Apricorn USB 3.0 Aegis Padlock DT drive.

There is no shortage of encryption solutions available for external hard drives. Problem is, most are software-based solutions, and such solutions are far from ideal. Not only do you need the software installed on all the devices you want to hook up the external drive to, but you better hope that there's a version available for the platform you're using. You're probably going to be in luck if you're running the latest version of Windows or Mac, but if you're running an older version, or something more exotic like Linux or Android (or maybe you're working on an embedded system), then a software-based solution is likely to steer you into the tarpits.

Apricorn USB 3.0 Aegis Padlock DT drive

This is where a platform-agnostic hardware-based solution really shines. You don't have to worry about whether the device you're connecting to has the right software installed, or worry whether there's even a compatible version available. As long as the device has a USB port, you should be in luck and be able to use the Aegis Padlock DT drive.

Physically, the Aegis Padlock DT drive looks like a regular external desktop hard drive, except it features a keypad and status display LED panel. The drive's aluminum shell is rugged and tough enough to put up with knocks and scrapes, and the keypad features polymer-coated keys for added wear-resistance.

The Aegis Padlock DT drive isn't something that you're going to slip into a pocket (OK, maybe a large pocket in cargo pants -- the drive really isn't much bigger than a standard 3.5-inch hard drive), and the power supply adds to the "yet another thing you need to remember" factor, but overall it's a small price to pay.

Using the Aegis Padlock DT drive is about as easy as it gets -- plug it in, switch it on, enter the correct PIN code (up to 16 digits), and you're into the data. The drive features built-in brute-force decrypt defense, can be set to read-only mode, and has unattended auto-lock in case you walk away from it and become distracted.

Also: How to completely erase any device

For that added level of security, there's also the ability to set a self-destruct PIN to quickly wipe the drive of its contents yet make it seem like it is fully working.

Encrypting the data is handled by a 100 percent 256-bit AES XTS hardware solution, and the internal components are protected with a layer of epoxy resin to prevent physical tampering.

The drive's firmware is also locked to prevent tampering with it, which Apricorn claims makes it resistant to attacks such as BadUSB.

I've been using an Aegis Padlock DT pretty much daily for the past few weeks, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's a quality bit of kit that brings with it an immense amount of piece of mind and stress reduction. It's easy to set up, and once you've got it working the way you want, you can pretty much forget about everything and use it like a regular external hard drive (just don't forget your PIN code!).

The drive comes in capacities ranging from 1TB to 12TB, and there is also a FIPS 140-2 level 2 NIST certified version (this comes in 2TB to 12TB capacities). Prices start at $199 for the 1TB Aegis Padlock DT drive, and $269 for the 2TB Aegis Padlock DT FIPS drive.

High-performance storage: From flash drives to server hard drives (April 2018 edition)

See also:

Editorial standards