iStorage DiskAshur DT2 Review

The iStorage DiskAshur DT2, a hyper-secure desktop-style hard drive (starts at $194 for 1TB; $949 for 14TB as tested), is a formidable solution for enterprises, universities, and organizations requiring to keep critical data safe. This PIN-authenticated external drive is easy to access for authorized users yet impregnable to attempts by outsiders to get in, thanks to a slew of security features and an impressive list of certifications.

iStorage DiskAshur DT2 Review

iStorage DiskAshur DT2

The iStorage DiskAshur DT2, a desktop hard drive with massive capacity (up to 18TB), a plethora of security measures with numerous government certifications, and a relatively low cost per gigabyte, is a vault for sensitive data.
PROS
  • Massive capacity
  • For a security-focused drive, the cost per gigabyte is low
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3, NCSC CPA, NLNCSA BSPA, and NATO Restricted certifications for AES-XTS 256-bit full-disk hardware encryption
  • Unlocking is simple for authorized users
CONS
  • There isn’t a protective case or any toughness characteristics
  • For regular storage activities, PCMark 10 yielded a low result

ISTORAGE DISKASHUR DT2 SPECS

Drive TypeExternal Portable
System-Side InterfaceUSB 3.2
USB Powered?No
Capacity14 TB
Spin Rate7200 rpm
Cables IncludedUSB-B to USB-A
Backup Software Included?No
Warranty (Parts/Labor)3 year(s)

Protect your sensitive data by encrypting it.

With dimensions of 1.7 by 4.4 by 7.3 inches (HWD) and a weight of 2.7 pounds, the gray, black, and silver DT2 is a big beast. An alphanumeric keypad with additional keys for lock, shift, and unlock is located on the top. Inside, it has a 3.5-inch desktop-style drive mechanism.

The power switch, a jack for the 12-volt AC adapter, a USB 3.0 Type-B port (a USB-B to USB-A cable is included), and a slot for a security lock are all on one end. The last point is important because, while malicious actors may not be able to access your drive’s contents, you don’t want them to walk away with it. If they tried to break into the DT2’s housing, they wouldn’t get very far—all of the drive’s components are encased in a coating of super-tough epoxy resin that’s nearly difficult to remove without permanently damaging the drive’s innards.

The DT2 is a platter-based desk-bound hard drive available in sizes up to 18TB, unlike the Editors’ Choice award-winning iStorage DiskAshur M2, which is a small, portable solid-state drive aimed primarily at security-conscious consumers. It’s intended for a company or government agency that has to protect a large amount of data at a high enough level of security to pass demanding government certifications. The M2 is FIPS 140-3 Level 3 compliant, whereas the DT2 is FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3 compliant and adds NCSC CPA (UK), NLNCSA BSPA (Netherlands), and NATO Restricted certifications.

diskAshur DT2

The DT2 does, however, have many of the same security measures as the M2. The default Admin PIN on this exFAT-formatted device should be changed during setup. Adding PINs (which can range from seven to fifteen numbers) for new users is simple. If a user forgets his or her PIN, the administrator can unlock the disk with the Admin PIN and then allow the user to create a new user PIN. The disk will automatically lock itself after 15 unsuccessful tries to input a code, with the encryption key removed and the data lost.

A Common Criteria EAL5+ (hardware-certified) secure microprocessor is incorporated inside the drive, which improves security by using genuine random number generation and built-in cryptography. Wrapping algorithms that have been certified by FIPS and Common Criteria protect the data encryption key.

The AES-XTS 256-bit full-disk encryption on the drive is purely hardware-based, thus it works on any platform or device. The DiskAshur DT2 is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, thin clients, zero clients, embedded systems, Citrix, VMWare, and pretty much any other system with a USB connection. To use the drive, simply plug it into a computer and enter the PIN to gain access to the data. All data is encrypted again when the disk is ejected from the host computer, utilizing the military-grade AES-XTS standard.

As stated in the table below, the DT2 is available in 11 different capacities. (Despite the fact that iStorage has been selling the DT2 since 2018, it wasn’t until late 2020 that the business increased the capacity beyond 12TB.) The prices shown below are those of Amazon, which iStorage considers to be the list pricing for American customers (despite somewhat higher costs on a U.S. info page of the U.K.-based company’s site). They were correct at the time of writing, albeit Amazon prices for several models had altered slightly during my testing.

DiskAshur DT2 Configurations from Storage

CapacityMSRPCost per GigabyteMax. Throughput (Read/Write)
1TB$19419 cents277MBps / 271MBps
2TB$197.9910 cents277MBps / 271MBps
3TB$2829 cents277MBps / 271MBps
4TB$3198 cents277MBps / 271MBps
6TB$5098 cents277MBps / 271MBps
8TB$5447 cents277MBps / 271MBps
10TB$6897 cents277MBps / 271MBps
12TB$7496 cents277MBps / 271MBps
14TB$9497 cents277MBps / 271MBps
16TB$895.996 cents277MBps / 271MBps
18TB$1,1106 cents277MBps / 271MBps

The DT2 is more expensive than non-lockbox desktop hard drives; for example, the 16TB Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub costs $399.99, or 2.5 cents per gigabyte, which is less than half the cost of the 16TB DiskAshur disk. In comparison to other ultra-secure platter drives, though, it’s actually rather reasonable. The DataLocker DL4 FE is available in both SSD and hard drive configurations—we tried the former—but the spinning drive has a storage capacity of only 2TB. The 2TB DL4 FE hard drive currently costs more than twice as much as the 2TB DT2.

You’d expect the DT2 to be less expensive than solid-state drives of comparable capacity because it’s a hard drive, and you’d be correct. While the 16TB DT2 costs $895.99 (or 6 cents per GB), the 15.3TB DL4 FE SSD costs $5,500 (or 36 cents per gigabyte) from the few e-tailers that sell it. The iStorage DiskAshur M2 solid-state drive has a capacity of 2TB and costs $416, or 21 cents per gigabyte.

The DiskAshur DT2 was put to the test, and it turned out to be a decent speed for a Platter Drive.

The DT2 is one of the quickest external hard drives we’ve examined in recent years, with a 3.5-inch drive mechanism and a rated speed of up to 7,200rpm (iStorage states the speed can fluctuate between 5,400rpm and 7,200rpm). It helps that it’s a desktop drive rather than a portable one with a small mechanism.

According to the Crystal DiskMark 6.0 test, its sequential read and write speeds are 260MBps and 256MBps, respectively. It performed similarly in the Mac-based BlackMagic Disk Speed test, with read and write speeds of 249MBps. We compared the DT2 to a collection of other secure external drives, both platter-based and SSDs, in the table below.

Wear resistant keypad

In Crystal DiskMark and BlackMagic, the DT2’s speeds were not far behind the lockbox SSDs from Apricorn, iStorage, DataLocker, and SecureData that we tested. The Samsung and SanDisk Extreme drives in the table are basic SSDs with some security features, such as a fingerprint scanner on the Samsung T7 Touch.

The PCMark 10 storage test evaluates a hard drive’s performance in a number of tasks, including opening programs ranging from games to Adobe creative software to Windows 10. In our test group, the DT2 earned the lowest PCMark 10 score. In its defense, its main purpose is to store and safeguard massive amounts of data; no one should buy it to play games on. (You could put a big gaming library on the DT2 with room to spare, but you could do the same for less than half the price on the 16TB FireCuda Gaming Hub.)

Our final benchmark is a folder copying test, which involves copying a 1.2GB folder to the hard drive using a Mac laptop. The DT2 took 7 seconds to complete the task, a second slower than two of the lockbox SSDs.

Compare with similar items

iStorage DiskAshur DT2iStorage diskAshur DT2 2TBApricorn 2TB Aegis Fortress L3WD_BLACK 5TB P10 Game Drive
Compatible DevicesDesktopDesktopDesktopGaming Console, Laptop, Desktop
Connectivity TechnologyUSBUSBUSBUSB
Digital Storage Capacity1 TB2 TB2 TB5 TB
Hard Disk DescriptionDesktopMechanical Hard DiskPortableExternal Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
Hard Disk Size1.0 TB2 TB2000 GB5 TB
Hardware InterfaceUSB 3.0, USBUSB, USB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Item Dimensions4.41 x 1.71 x 7.3 inches7.28 x 4.33 x 1.57 inches4.75 x 3 x 0.6 inches4.65 x 3.46 x 0.82 inches
Item Weight2.70 lbs2.73 lbs0.51 lbs
Memory Storage Capacity1 TB2 TB2 GB5000 GB
Model Year201820172018
Size1TB2TB2TB5TB

Storage that is both large and secure

With our test device storing 14TB and the largest model holding 18TB, the iStorage DiskAshur DT2 is certainly the highest-capacity ultra-secure hard drive we’ve evaluated. It is cost-effective, especially at bigger capacities and when compared to SSDs that are comparably secure.

The DT2’s ultra-high capacity and low cost per gigabyte set it apart from other drives with significant security measures we’ve seen. Many external drives are thin and portable, but this one isn’t. It is not USB-powered and must be plugged into the accompanying AC adapter as a desktop hard disk. It lacks the durability of drives like iStorage’s DiskAshur M2, which has an IP68 ingress protection rating, because it will be used in an office or server room. It is, however, simple to unlock and access for authorized users, and it comes with a bevy of security protections and certifications to ensure that bad folks are kept out. Editors’ Choice for a security-focused external hard drive goes to the DiskAshur DT2.

iStorage DiskAshur DT2 Review

iStorage DiskAshur DT2

The iStorage DiskAshur DT2, a desktop hard drive with massive capacity (up to 18TB), a plethora of security measures with numerous government certifications, and a relatively low cost per gigabyte, is a vault for sensitive data.


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