IronKey D300: Ultra durable USB flash drive with built-in encryption

When it comes to portable and durable data security, IronKey is a trusted name, and if you want a USB flash drive that will securely and safely store your data, the D300 is worth taking a look at. (First published July 2018, updated Feb 2020)
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

If you've like me you probably have handfuls of USB flash drives on your desk at any one time. But how many of those flash drives have built-in data encryption? How many can carry on working after exposure to water and dust? Or after being dropped from a height on concrete? Or driven over?

The IronKey D300 can.

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Regular readers will know of my proclivity for being hard on the devices I own. Everything takes on a "well worn" look way ahead of its time, and my most delicate and precious possessions - iPhone, Apple Watch, and so on - have to live inside armored cases to have a fighting chance of making it to old age.

It's also fair to say that I've broken a lot of USB flash drives in my time. Some saw their demise after being crushed, others got exposed to water or dirt, while others just broke while in use (I had one break as I tried to take it out of the packaging it was encased in).

It's highly unlikely that I'm going to accidentally break the IronKey D300. Sure, I could break it deliberately (by taking a hammer to the USB connector, or hitting it with a welding torch), and I'm sure that there are accidents I could suffer involving fire or explosions or deep water that would kill an IronKey D300, but I wouldn't care because those accidents would have bought my life to an end far sooner.

The IronKey D300 is an overwhelmingly impressive device. Built for ruggedness and security, the electronics are housed in a durable zinc casing and the electronics are encased in tamper-evident epoxy resin for added durability as well as physical security.

I've put the IronKey D300 through a lot over the past few weeks and nothing seems to affect it. I've left it in water for a few days, frozen it solid, thawed it out and boiled it, thrown it about, jumped on it, and generally been unkind to it, and it still looks and works like new.

Kingston - which acquired the IronKey brand from Imation back in February of 2016 - rates the IronKey D300 as dustproof and waterproof to 4 feet/1.2 meters (conforming to IEC 60529 IPX8), and gives it an operating temperature range of 32°F to 140°F (0°C to 60°C) and storage temperature range of -4°F to 185°F (-20°C to 85°C).

OK, so it's durable, but what about the encryption?

The IronKey D300 is FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified, and in February 2020 it received NATO Restricted Level certification, and features 256-bit AES hardware encryption in XTS mode. 

It also features high-end security features such as making use of digitally signed firmware that makes it immune to attacks such as BadUSB, and it enforces complex password rules with minimum characteristics, and the flash drive locks down and reformats after ten invalid attempts to protect against brute force attacks.

Furthermore, all data encryption and decryption is done on the drive, with no trace left on the host system.

On the compatibility front the standard version of the IronKey D300 works with Windows 10, 8.1, and 8, Mac OS X/macOS 10.12.x to 10.15.x, and Linux v.2.6x+ (note the managed versions are not compatible with Linux).

In use the IronKey D300 is pretty straightforward. 

The first time you use it you have to set up a passphrase and an optional hint. From then on you enter the passphrase when you want to use the drive, and away you go (forget it and you have ten tries to nail it, after which your data is gone).

Performance wise the drive is good. Not the speediest USB flash drive I've used, but a quick benchmark of the 32GB model I had for review saw it handle read speeds up to 279 MB/s and write speeds hitting 94 MB/s. Absolutely no complaints there. In general usage with the types of files that people are likely to store on encrypted USB flash drive in a business setting, the IronKey D300 has more than enough horsepower to keep up.

IronKey D300 benchmark results

IronKey D300 benchmark results

Overall, the IronKey D300 is an excellent encrypted USB flash drive. Sure, it's big and chunky, but it's well made, both inside and out. The advanced encryption is what business users demand nowadays, and performance is more than enough for what it will be expected to do.

Excellent product that comes highly recommended.

The IronKey D300 comes in capacities ranging from 4GB to 128GB, and in both standard and managed versions.

For more information and purchase details, visit the Kingston website.

IronKey D300 hardware-encrypted USB flash drive

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