back to article LaCie XtremKey all-terrain USB flash drive

Data security can mean a lot of things, from encryption to defence against cyber attacks. There’s backing up and archiving too, but with the XtremKey, LaCie has in mind the idea that you might want to secure your data against the rough and tumble of everyday life. So if trouble follows you around, you can be assured your …

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Joke

But....

Will it blend?

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FAIL

Zamak?

When I were young Zamak (known as Mazak in the UK) was usually referred to as shit-metal. The sort of metal that was easy to cast into odd shapes like the rear light clusters on 50s cars. Not the sort of metal that you would use where any sort of strength was required.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Zamak/Mazac

"can withstand the meanderings of a 10-ton truck"

Yeah, right. Aka 'monkey metal'.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

All well and good.. But...

Can it survie the dreaded "being whacked by a knee, whilst sticking out of a front USB when the operator spins round in hos swivel chair"??

As happened to a good work mate of mine last week...

He'd made the fatal mistake of selecting MOVE, not copy. Moved his docs to his USB drive, span round in his chair, hit the protruding USB key and damaged it beyond repair.

Fractured the PCB and made it impossible to repair.

Lost the lot as the useless IT staff didnt seem to understand that using the PC diminishes the chances of recovery from the HD exponentially.

My little sandisk cruzer is 8gb, solid metal and cost 12 quid!!!!!

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@cornz 1

"Fractured the PCB and made it impossible to repair." Fractured PCBs are not impossible to repair.

If the info was so vital he had a couple of choices. Most extreme choice, buy another identical usb drive, de solder the memory chips from both drives and mount the old memory chip in the new drive.

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Silver badge

Uhm... it's electronics

Semiconductor electronics easily can sustain temperatures from -50 to 200 degrees celsius. That's not actually anything special.

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WTF?

I second this.

Also, why would it need to be waterproof to 100m? Does anyone really have the need for portable Firefox half way down the leg of an oil platform?

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Flame

Will it survive

Wash cycle 40 degrees plus a trip in the tumble drier, typical means of failure at home? Flames, because you don't have a washing machine symbol.

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Stop

As you can imagine I'll bet it happened.

In fact, it happened to me.

I had a sandisk usb stick that went through the exact punishment you described and came out none worse for wear. Well not exactly the same punishment. Worse. It got pasteurised in a _hot_ wash actually, then baked in the tumble drier.

It still worked flawlessly but I duly copied the data out of it and subsequently condemned it as I figured the safest thing to do was not to trust it anymore with any important data since it had probably been in 'out-of-spec environs' for a good 2 hours or more.

(While I understand the actual silicon is fairly tolerant of what we would consider temperature extremes, I did not and still cannot make the same assumptions of the actual pcb, tracks, contacts, solder etc)

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I should hope so.

My normal USB sticks which I use every day have both been through the wash twice, though not the drier, and I've not had any problems with them (yet, I bet this is tempting fate).

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Silver badge
Pint

Nice but...

I'm sure in more extreme areas of this wonderful planet that would be a plus, and obviously the average office geek showing off his sad toy to his geek mates.

The rest of us? Small capacity USB toys like this, hmmm don't know. I usually carry around 2 or 3 16GB sticks, in relative terms they are "two a penny". When they break or the capacity is not enough, I simply order some bigger ones. I know this is not very green, but I am sitting above a computer room that is spewing enough "carbon" by the hour to happily wipe out enough arctic ice to fill several swimming pools! I hardly think replacing my USB keys every 18 months is that bigger a deal.

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Alert

not safe from dodgy ports though.

most usb thumb drives are destroyed by dodgy usb ports how about some kind of power protection, I normally use a usb transflash adapter with a card these days, if the adapter dies the card survives.

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Headmaster

Hard on the outside but

soft on the inside? What are the figures for MTBF for this or any other USB keys? And what are the main modes of failure? What about

- the strength of the connection between the USB jack and circuit board?

- quality of the soldering joints?

Not point protecting it against heat, cold and water if the USB jack is wobbly.

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FAIL

Freeze it, cook it, dunk it, thump it

Leave it on the train.

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Happy

I can't say it's a bad product...

...but do you really need one?

I suppose that there are some people who can make use of a hardened USB key. Of course, then I'd have to say that there are probably better options. The LaCie of today is not what it used to be, and their product support isn't as good as it once was. As for the built in security, I wonder how well it holds up to something like TrueCrypt, which works on any old storage device, is considered a "proven" product and costs nothing?

I'm not sure you need a "hardened" key anyway. To wit:

Someone once came to me with an old (256MB, to give you an idea) PNY Attache USB memory key. You see, word got out long ago that I can fix about anything, predict the weather, or at least do a competent job of swearing at something that isn't working. Little plastic pegs held its circuit board in place, and they'd snapped off, allowing the USB connector to beat a hasty retreat every time an attempt was made to connect it. They gave it to me, in hopes that I could retrieve the data. It didn't take much, the thing was still electrically perfect. I popped its plastic case apart and connected the circuit board directly to a USB port. Bingo!

They were done with it and when I brought it back, they tossed it into the trash. I asked if I could have it, for I am a man who will not be stopped by trivial broken plastic pins.

And I have a glue gun.

So that's what I did. I put half of it together, packed it with molten glue and then put the other half on. It worked just fine. I've used it non-stop ever since...and it's been baked, frozen, dropped, thrown, zapped with static electricity on the USB connector shield, washed and dried several times and it keeps right on trucking. It goes almost everywhere I do. The contents are protected by TrueCrypt.

I make backups because I'm not stupid. It could fail at any time or get lost. But it hasn't, and I suspect that I will use it until it drops.

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Anonymous Coward

It's so tough. Can you show me...

...where the write protect switch is?

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Even better...

...can you show me where the hell the write-protect switches have been on every USB thumb drive I've bought in the last five frigging years? I realize that not everybody has the same needs I do -- that is, for a drive I can load with malware-removal tools and then prevent from catching the electronic clap every time I stick it in a dodgy socket -- but it sure would be nice if *somebody* out there had put a little thought into it.

Hell, I'd be happy just to add a write-protect switch of my own, but just you try getting datasheets out of Sandisk so you can find out which pin on their custom IC handles write enable --

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Corsair Survivor

Almost identical (arguably better) design for a fraction of the price. Used mine for years. Fairly quick, too.

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