capsule review

iTwin Pairs Two PCs Together

At a Glance
  • iTwin

    PCWorld Rating

    USB-stick shaped device offers a super handy way to securely share files using hardware encryption, and with little fuss.

The iTwin is a unique networking and peer-to-peer file-sharing gadget from the company of the same name. Out of the box, it looks like nothing so much as a USB flash drive with a connector on each end. It's not. Upon closer scrutiny, you'll find that the iTwin ($99, price as of 2/7/2011) separates into two units. The two halves, each one plugged into a different PC, form a network connection that allows you to securely share files using hardware-based 256-bit AES encryption.

There's no actual storage on the iTwin modules, except for the CD-emulating boot partition that's used to install the iTwin client software. Alas, you must install the software to each PC on which you wish to use the iTwin, so it's best used only on your own machines--say, your home PC and your laptop. It would be nice if the software were portable, but perhaps that's in the future.

Setting up the iTwin is a breeze. The first time you plug it into a USB port, both halves must be connected so a unique encryption key that links them can be generated. After that, you simply run the setup software on each PC and use them. You can password-protect your access, but you don't have to. Although you drag files to the iTwin virtual drive in Windows Explorer, you're only creating a pointer to the shared file. And the iTwin lets you access your drive remotely (although the other computer will need to be on to access it).

If you send your e-mail address to iTwin, you'll receive a deactivation code that you can use should you lose one-half of the device. It's a nice touch that spares you having to enter a password every time you use the iTwin.

I do have to issue what's become my standard warning with any service that uses a portal (PogoPlug and the like). If the service or company goes belly up and kills the service, you'll have a pretty, but useless device. That said, iTwin, iLikeu.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    USB-stick shaped device offers a super handy way to securely share files using hardware encryption, and with little fuss.

    Pros

    • Effective remote file sharing
    • Easy to use

    Cons

    • Relies on Web portal
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