The Apricorn Aegis Padlock Pro is an encrypted portable hard drive offering the speed benefits of eSATA.

We've looked at encrypted portable drives before. First there was the numberpad-lockable iStorage diskGenie with a 2.5in disk inside. Then, the same idea again but with a shockproof SSD in place.

The principle reason people go solid state is speed. However both those first iterations of diskGenie were slowed down by the USB 2.0 interface. Not so the Apricorn Aegis Padlock Pro.

Apricorn is the US originator of these keypad drives, rebadged by iStorage for the UK market. In the case of the high-gloss Pro here, an additional eSATA port has been added as alternative to mini-USB 2.0.

Since eSATA is essentially the same fast pipe used by internal disks, modified for outboard use, we should see the same speed as a native drive.

And so it was that this sample, fitted with a Toshiba 250GB notebook drive, showed peak transfer speeds in the ATTO benchmark of 87MBps, a much nippier result than the circa-15MBps write speeds of USB versions.

Using HD Tune Pro, we saw read/write speeds drop to a minimum of 45MBps, typical for notebook disks, making for an average performance around 70MBps across the entire volume.

That's still well ahead of USB 2, of course, but if you really need Spooks-style speeds while covertly cloning an agent's laptop drive, look out for the SSD version. Now that should really fly over faster eSATA link.

The main downsides to eSATA is that it's not ubiquitous and is not so reliably hot-swappable - some setups require a Windows reboot whenever plugged in.

OUR VERDICT

These numberpad lockable drives provide great security for your data, work on any platform, and now come with option of a connection quick enough to make data transfers as fast as the disk can run.