In our recent look at eight encrypted portable drives, we considered two USB flash drives, including SanDisk's Cruzer Contour.
The Cruzer Contour ($100 for 16GB) isn't so much a security tool as it is a speedy flash-memory thumb drive with a nifty mechanism to retract the USB connector: The piece recesses inside a sliding cover that you can manipulate with just your thumb. Inside, it's a high-performance U3 drive with all the benefits: the ability to run programs from the drive itself, a feature that stores your documents on the drive automatically, and the U3 Launchpad, a clone of the Start menu for the drive's installed applications.
In the Launchpad menu is the check box to "lock" the AES-encrypted user-writable portion of the drive with a password. While the protection isn't enabled by default, it can put a password between anyone who finds your lost drive and your files. As long as the NSA isn't after your data, this setup will probably provide enough security for casual use.
SanDisk 4GB Cruzer Contour U3 USB Flash Drive
This U3 drive can take a licking and still maintain your data, but it lacks high-end encryption.
- Inexpensive U3 flash drive with "lock" function
- Solid metal housing with a recessed USB plug
- Security is not the dominant feature
- Finding the settings is somewhat difficult