I know. To a lot of people, a USB flash drive is just a flash drive and they’re all fundamentally the same thing. They’re those little “thumb drives” that you use to stash a few files you’d like to toss over to a friend or colleague. Maybe you use them with a media player in the living room. And while we could talk at length about speed and reliability, none of that really matters when your most private and confidential of information gets snatched up by a bad guy. And in those instances, you’ll want a secure flash drive like the new Kingston DataTraveler 4000 G2.

Advanced Hardware Encryption for Secure Data


One of the most common usage cases for something like this would be in an office or corporate environment where secret and confidential data is being saved, transferred or transported. It’s one thing when you want to hand off some pictures from the company holiday party; it’s another thing altogether when you’ve got secret blueprints, schematics and internal documents on there.

The Kingston DataTraveler 4000 G2 features high-end FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated security with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) protection in XTS mode. This is hardware-based protection on multiple levels. There’s a tamper-evident seal, for example, so you can clearly see if there were attempts at physical access. It’s easy to use, because there’s no software to install on your computer. And the protection comes by way of a secure, complex password. After 10 unsuccessful “intrusion attempts,” the drive automatically locks down and formats itself.

While you likely won’t want to be too rough with this USB 3.0 flash drive, it’s reassuring to know that the DataTraveler 4000 G2 is also ruggedized in a titanium-coated stainless steel casing and it is waterproof (IPX8) up to four feet.

Passwords and Data Access Setup

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So, how does all of this security and encryption work in the real world?

When you plug the DataTraveler 4000 G2 into an available USB port on your computer, it doesn’t show up like a regular flash drive. Instead, it looks more like you put in a CD or DVD-ROM. Opening this reveals a folder where you can find the DT4000G2_Launcher application. The first time you open this, you’ll be put through the simple four-step wizard to setup the drive. You choose your language, provide your name, and set your password.

One thing that is important to note here is that the Kingston software forces you to choose a “secure” password. It must be between 8 and 16 characters in length, and it must contain at least three of the following elements: upper case letters, lower case letters, digits and special characters. These kinds of restrictions are both good and bad for a range of reasons we won’t discuss here.

When you’ve finished going through the wizard, the drive appears as normal. Take it out and put it back in, and you’ll need to open the software again, this time entering your password. It is also here that you have the option of a read-only mode to prevent the secret installation of malware or the unauthorized alteration of files.

This is all indeed very easy to use; it just adds an extra step before you can actually do anything with this flash drive. It also means that you likely won’t be able to use it as a plug-and-play USB storage device on a media player or smart TV. Of course, that is not the target usage case for the DataTraveler 4000 G2 in the first place, but it is worth noting.

But Is It Still Fast?

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With a titanium-coating housing, the DataTraveler 4000 G2 feels like a high quality drive in the hands. With the tried and true heritage of the Kingston brand, we can also be assured of its reliability. But what about speed?

On the package, Kingston claims that the DataTraveler 4000 G2 (here in its 16GB form) is capable of speeds up to 165MB/s read and 22MB/s write when connected via USB 3.0. Using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3, we found the actual performance to be closer to 130MB/s read and 23MB/s write. That’s reasonably close, though the read speed didn’t quite live up to the claim.

MEGATechie 256 Bits of Safety or MEGATechie Travelling Vulnerability?


If you’re the kind of person who simply wants cheap, practically disposable flash drives, the Kingston DataTraveler 4000 G2 is not for you. Instead, it is decidedly targeted toward people who want to have higher levels of security to keep their data safe and private. No, you don’t get the automatic cloud backup feature of the DataTraveler Locker+ G3, but you do get great FIPS 140-2 level 3 validation, straightforward software and 256-bit AES hardware encryption. And it’s pretty elegant in its simplicity too.

The Kingston DataTraveler 4000 G2 with XTS security and FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certification is available now in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities with your choice of standard or management-ready models. Prices range from around $34 to over $200.

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