Provides: Secure USB file storage and transfer
Minimum Requirements: Mac OS X v10.4.11 or v10.5 and above, PowerPC or Intel based Mac, USB port
Price: Around $29.99
Availability: Out now
At a recent meeting with my colleagues, some of the guys were showing off USB drives that were barely larger than an iPhone SIM card. These things were tiny, almost not even there, and they still held 8GB worth of content. My colleagues were impressed, I was not. How small does a USB drive really have to be? Can something that size be safe from breaking? From being lost? From being eaten by my cat. Not likely, so give me the Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go USB Drive for Mac OS X any day.
It’s important to highlight the “for Mac OS X” part, because this USB drive actually does contain features only for Mac users. Specifically, software included with the drive allows you to set up a security zone. This is a separate area, hidden away from view when you plug in the drive. To access it, you have to first set up your private zone. You can individually determine the format of the public and private zones, then assign how much of the 8GBs you want to give to each.
Once your drive is formatted, you have immediate access to the public zone. You don’t see both drives when you plug in the Store ‘n’ Go, you only see public. This prevents from you accidentally dumping files into the wrong zone, and it also completely hides the private zone from view; people you hand the drive to won’t even know it’s there.
Instead, to access the private zone, you have to launch V-Safe software that you install on your Mac. The installer for the software is always accessible on the flash drive, of course, so you can install it on another computer if you need access to your private files.
Upon launching the software, you click the drive icon to log into your private zone, then enter the password you assigned at set-up. V-Safe then unmounts the public zone and makes the private zone available to you. When done, you can log out of the private zone to go back to public, or you can simply eject the drive. When you plug it back in, public will return by default.
It’s also worth nothing that public zone data can be accessed on any Windows 2000, XP, or Vista equipped PC when using the FAT format option.
So, that’s all pretty good, but the construction of the drive itself deserves some accolades, too. It’s about the size of a pack of chewing gum with a piece or two missing. It’s designed to match the aluminum styling of the MacBook and iMac, and is beveled near the USB dongle. Unfortunately, it’s too wide to fit in a MacBook USB port of if there’s anything else plugged in near it, so keep that in mind when travelling. The top contains a clip that can be affixed to a lanyard or keychain, but it’s oddly wide and work with the clip in my laptop bag.
Compensating for these shortcomings is a retractable USB dongle. There are no caps to lose here, but the dongle isn’t left unprotected, either. When you’re not using the drive, simply slide the dongle back inside the case, and there you go.
The combination of the software and the hardware makes the Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go the most useful and reliable USB flash drive I’ve used. It may not be as fancy as some, and it’s certainly not the smallest, but with everything you get for under $30 (including 8GB of storage, in case I haven’t made that clear), it could be the best value.
And I’ll never need to worry about the cat mistaking it for a bug.