If you are someone who dreams of freedom and security, the LaCie Safe Mobile Hard Drive could be your technological saviour. It grants both wishes perfectly with an embedded fingerprint scanner that keeps unauthorised users away from up to 80GB of your sensitive data. It's also fast, small and lightweight, and it won't break the bank.
Measuring 80 by 25 by 138mm (WHD) and weighing 230g, the LaCie Safe Mobile Hard Drive is bigger than portable hard drives such as the Transcend StoreJet or the Apricorn EZ Bus Mini, but while it may not fit in your shirt pocket, it will certainly fit in the back pocket of your jeans (we don't recommend sitting on a hard drive, though) or into a small bag. Unfortunately, there's no carrying case to protect it from the sundry items rattling around in your bag.
The drive connects to a PC or a Mac via the included USB cable and draws its power from the host system. If you're hooking it up to a notebook, you can divert extra power by adding the USB power-share cable (also included), but be aware that this will tax your notebook's battery life somewhat (as well as occupy two USB ports on your system). Both the 40GB and 80GB models house a 5,400rpm hard disk drive with an 8MB cache. The LaCie Safe Mobile Hard Drive is encased in sleek, gunmetal grey plastic with a dark grey simulated fingerprint grain. The fingerprint scanner is a 6mm piece of glass set in a finger-guiding groove on the top of the case. LEDs on either end of the groove glow red or green to indicate whether the drive has been unlocked.
The LaCie Safe Mobile Hard Drive's preloaded user interface makes installing it on a Windows XP/2000 PC incredibly quick and easy. All you do is plug in the USB cable, wait a few seconds, open My Computer, and click the LaCie Safe icon that appears. This launches the First-time User wizard, which instructs you to identify a user, set a permission level (administrator, read/write or read only), and scan two identifying fingertips for each of the five maximum allowable users. The next time you plug the drive in, no matter which PC, you just click on the drive in My Computer, swipe your finger along the scanner groove, and the drive unlocks. Unfortunately, setting the drive up on the Mac requires a few extra steps to install the user interface, followed by a restart. Another negative to the LaCie Safe Mobile Hard Drive is that it doesn't come with any backup software. You'll either have to purchase your own, such as Dantz Retrospect, or be satisfied with manual backup.
The LaCie Safe did well on our throughput tests. We tested it in FAT32 file format, though it can be easily reformatted to NTFS. It took an average of 35 seconds to transfer a 400MB folder of mixed files to the drive and about 30 seconds to transfer the same folder back to our PC.
Edited by Felisa Yang
Additional editing by Kate Macefield