Kingston's new DataTraveler Locker+ 16GB USB thumb drive offers the useful capability of allowing a user to set up an encrypted partition to safeguard some of that data - while allowing the remaining drive space to be open and accessible by anyone. This should be useful if you're often lending your USB drive to friends as a simple way to transfer files or temporarily save some data.

Microsoft Windows still has a problem with partitioning USB sticks. For the average user it's simply not possible. For the more technically adept, you can trick a Windows system into creating partitions on a USB stick by flipping the Removable Media Bit, making it appear as a permanent or fixed drive. But then it's possible that your drive is rendered unusable.

The Kingston's DataTraveler Locker+, on the other hand, offers a reliable way to quickly set up a partition in Windows on a USB stick.

Kingston makes two versions of its encryptable DataTraveler, dubbed the Locker and the Locker+. The Locker+ automatically encrypts everything stored on the drive using 256-bit hardware-based AES-256 encryption. The Locker, meanwhile, allows a user to partition space and encrypt just one of the two partitions. The DataTraveler Locker+ comes in capacities of up to 32GB, while a standard Locker version comes with capacities of up to 16GB.

Like most other USB sticks with encryption features, set up of the Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ drive is relatively simple. You type in a password and reminder; your name and company; and then select OK. That's it. Everything you save to the drive is now automatically encrypted.

Kingston's DataTraveler Locker (sans +) setup isn't much more difficult. Once plugging it into your USB port, it will show up as a drive and you double click on DTencryptor. Setting up the partition is intuitive and fast. Pop-up boxes guide you along asking to first pick a language, then to pick whether or not you want a ‘privary zone', as it calls the encrypted partition. The software on the Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ asks you to choose a password for the encrypted partition and then allows you to choose the size of the partition with an easy-to-use sliding scale.

The sliding scaler on our 16GB sample of the Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ allowed us to partition up to 13.7GB of secure space. A software glitch on both evaluation drives Kingston sent us had the partitioning tool listeing drive capacity in megabytes, not gigabytes. It incorrectly identified 16GB of available capacity as just 16MB.

One of the features we liked is the drives' ability to protect themselves against brute-force attacks, that is, from someone repeatedly attempting to guess the password. The DataTraveler Locker+ drive locks down and reformats after 10 incorrect password attempts, deleting all your data and protecting it from prying eyes. We've seen this on secure drives before, but they often tend to be the more expensive models.

Another attribute is the Kingston DataTraveler Locker+'s cover. Instead of a cap that can be lost, the drive swings out on a hinge - a relatively common form factor today, but still one of the best designs out there. We're a big fan of non-removable caps for obvious reasons.

We tested the Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ drive's read and write speeds with Simpli Software's HD Tach 3.0 benchmarking softare. The drive showed an average read speed of 28.3MB/s and a random access time of 1.7 milliseconds, but CPU utilization was disappointingly high at 24%. When you're running more than one application on your computer, that can potentially impact performance.

For our next performance test, we copied a 2GB size folder - containing 544 files comprising photos, video and text documents - to the encrypted partition. This which took 5 minutes, 37 seconds. That equates to a write speed a little below 6MB/s, which is rather low.

A 4GB model of the Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ retails for around £16, an 8GB £25, a 16GB £50, and a 32GB DataTraveler Locker+ retails for around £120.

For comparison, you can purchase a 32GB SanDisk Extreme Contour USB Flash Drive with 256-bit AES encryption for £95, or a 16GB model of the same for around £65.

The Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ is compatable with Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, Linux kernel 2.6.x onwards, and Mac OS X 10.4-10.6.


While this drive is a little more affordable than others with similar encryption features, its mainl stand-out feature is its partitioning capability.