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Cool Yule Tools 2012

STORE: Data storage holiday gift ideas

Drives, both big and small, to store your stuff

By , Network World
November 19, 2012 08:09 AM ET

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Seagate Backup Plus

The GoFlex nature of connectors, where users can switch from a USB port to something that's faster (in this case, a FireWire 800 adapter or Thunderbolt adapter), still exists, as long as you're willing to purchase those adapters separately. If you're fine with USB 2.0, then just plug it in to your Mac, and the drive will automatically mount to your system. Because this is a Mac product, the system will ask if you want to use the drive for Time Machine backup purposes. You don't have to do this, but it's nice that it can.

The "Plus" side of Backup Plus is a feature that allows you to save Facebook photos to the drive. You can download what you've already put up on the social networking site to the drive, and the software (downloaded separately from Seagate) will also automatically download any new photos that you upload. It's a cool feature that can help protect digital photos that end up being uploaded from a smartphone to Facebook, for example, without going through a PC.

Other than that it's a pretty basic portable hard drive. The 1TB of capacity should be more than enough for most people (unless you have a budding videophile on your holiday list). Backup and storage isn't usually the sexiest holiday gift, but just like we all used to receive socks and underwear in our stockings, think of this as the "socks and underwear" of technology gadgets.

- Keith Shaw

Addonics CA256USB CipherUSB


Being mobile often means sacrificing security for the benefits of convenience and ease of use, but there's no reason these need to be in conflict. We see this in the Addonics CA256USB CipherUSB - a dongle pass-through that essentially encrypts the contents of any USB device plugged into it.

Addonics CipherUSB

How does it work? Simple. Plug a USB storage device (memory key, hard drive) into the CipherUSB, and then plug all of this into your PC (Mac software is also available). The first time you do this you'll be asked to create a security key; after that, the process is transparent. The OS will see the drive as unencrypted, but all data traffic to and from the USB storage device is encrypted in real time by the CipherUSB.

Thus, anyone getting a hold of your storage device will find it useless (encryption is 256-bit AES) unless they have a CipherUSB and your security key. Yes, this is two-factor authentication and encryption, and at a bargain-basement price!

You can even cascade CipherUSBs for even more security if you'd like (you'd have to be pretty paranoid to do that, but, hey, it's possible). One quick note - this is very important - you really need to store the CipherUSB device separate from your target drive, as there's no real-time authentication here. Someone finding both together will be able to read your data, so you've been warned.

But, then, what do you want for $30? Indeed, this product is one of the biggest bargains out there, and a great gift for your friends in the intelligence community - or anyone looking for a little security for data on the go. Highly recommended!

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