As we noted in our full August 2009 review of the Hard Drive Secure, the security design uses an unusual  token approach, which involves ‘unlocking’ the drive by holding an credit card-sized encrypted RFID card near the front of the drive. Accessing the drive is impossible without this card.

As far as we can tell (and Freecom avoids explaining how the system works), the drive has only a small encrypted partition accessed by the card, access to which unlocks access to the data partition. The advantages are that no on-the-fly encryption is needed and there is no passphrase to remember and change from time to time, the disadvantage is that anyone with the card has access to its contents. The card is key.

Lose the card, you can get more from Freecom at some expense but there is a backup ‘master’ card in case.

A quirk of the review model we looked at was the slowness with which it recognised the RFID card on some occasions though against this has to be factored that encrypted drives require a password login splash screen.

The Freecom is also a 3.5 inch unit – this is not really a mobile drive - that comes in capacities of up to 2TB which at around £190 (approx $300) makes it rather expensive.

A bonus of this drive was its performance, which is partly down to higher rotational speed of the drive itself but could also have something to do with its design. The fact that files aren't constantly being encrypted and decrypted on the fly shows up when sending larger numbers of files to and from the drive.


More of a desktop drive but easy to share among users (just hand over the card, temporarily)