Can you ever have enough memory? These days the answer always seems to be ‘no’. Whether for our computers, our smartphones, external backup drives, camcorders, cameras, digital music players, laptops, netbooks, digital picture frames, or any other device that is meant to hold data, the need for more memory continues to be never-ending. But we don’t just need more memory, we need ways to keep the stored data secure. Which brings us to the Lexar JumpDrive Secure II Plus, a USB flash drive available in denominations from 2GB all the way to 64GB which has built-in 256-bit AES encryption; I was sent a 32GB model.
Right out of the package you’ll notice something a bit different than usual — the front of the JumpDrive has an onboard capacity meter which shows (in this case) that the drive is 100% empty. According to Lexar, the “easy to read, 10-bar capacity meter displays available storage at a glance, even when disconnected from a computer. JumpDrive Secure II Plus works across platforms and its display functions independently of the operating system – giving you complete flexibility and ease of use.”
The drive has a cap with a lanyard hole, and although the cap fits snugly, I do wish the hole had been on the bottom of the drive versus the removable cap. I mean, doesn’t it seem like for security’s sake the lanyard hole ought to be on the part which you would most prefer not to lose? I’m just thinking out loud here …
The drive is typically sized — roughly 2.5″ long x 0.8″ wide, and the body is composed of matte black plastic.
I’m not sure why, but when the Lexar is plugged into a Windows computer, other than the slight wait for the driver to setup the first time, it is immediately recognized and accessible. Plugging it into a Mac computer consistently takes 5 and a half minutes or more, and no — that is not a typo! In fact the first time I plugged the drive in and didn’t see a Lexar disk icon appear on my desktop within several moments, I was worried that the drive might be defective. I left the JumpDrive plugged in, started to do something else, and the drive’s desktop icon eventually appeared after some time. That’s a pretty dismal start-up time, but I figured that it had to do with the disk being formatted as MS-DOS (FAT), which allows it to be seen and used by both Mac and Windows. I’ll come back to that in a bit.
A Secure II folder on the drive contains vault software for Windows and Mac.
I installed the Mac software, which required a restart. Once that had been done, the program was accessed by clicking the Secure II icon inside the Lexar folder. And yes, restarting the computer with the drive plugged in still required another ~5 minute wait for the Lexar to boot.
Secure II is offers a dashboard from where you can access your encrypted vault, decide which files to encrypt, a file shredder, and settings.
JumpDrive Secure II Plus comes pre-loaded with advanced security software that lets you protect your data securely, quickly, and easily. You can create multiple password-protected areas called Encrypted Vaults that automatically encrypt your data with on-the-fly 256-bit AES encryption. And for peace of mind that your data is secure, the File Shredder feature lets you securely and thoroughly delete files so they can’t be recovered.
It’s all pretty self-explanatory, but here are some screenshots …
I timed the transfer of a 7.36GB movie file from my laptop to the JumpDrive, and it took 9:29:9 minutes; as the drive was working, the Lexar logo would flash red intermittently. Once the transfer was complete, the drive showed its capacity as being just under 20% full; the display feature seems pretty handy!
Next, to test my theory that the slow boot time might be because of how the drive was formatted, I reformatted the JumpDrive to a Mac friendly Mac OS Extended (Journaled); but first I copied the Mac folder from the drive to my desktop so I wouldn’t lose the backup software. When I had finished reformatting the JumpDrive, I moved the Mac folder back to it and then ejected. When I plugged the drive back into my MacBook Pro’s USB port, it booted up in under five seconds — a huge difference. But now the Lexar’s display looked like this … not quite as helpful!
I transferred the same 7.36GB movie file from my laptop to the JumpDrive, and it took roughly the same amount of time to transfer, but the display still looked exactly the same as above. So unless I miss my guess, in order to get the capacity percentage display to work properly, the drive must be formatted MS-DOS (FAT), which also means that it will take ages to mount on a Mac.
So of course, I had to try reformatting it back to MS-DOS (FAT), and sure enough … the display was blank, signifying 100% drive availability, and when unmounted and reinserted into the USB port, this time it took ~10 minutes for the drive to mount.
To be sure that it wasn’t my MacBook Pro with the problem, I inserted the drive in Kev’s MacBook Pro; it took 3:51.7 minutes for the drive to boot.
The bottom line is this: Having a drive this large is fabulous! Being able to securely store up to 64GB music, documents, pictures, movies and other digital media on a USB device the size of your thumb is such an amazing thing – an idea that might as well have been science fiction even 15 years ago. If you use a Windows computer, the JumpDrive will perform flawlessly and as intended right out of the package. If you have a Mac and you truly need the capacity display feature, you will have to leave the drive formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) and be prepared to wait an average of 3 to 5 minutes each time you plug it into your computer. If you can do without the capacity display but want a quick drive boot-up, then it is a simple thing to reformat the drive through the Mac Disk Utility to Mac OS Extended (Journaled or not).
The Lexar JumpDrive Secure II Plus is available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers.
MSRP: $139.99 as tested for 32GB; also available as 2GB ($price unavailable), 4GB ($27.99), 8GB ($), 16GB ($89.99), and 64GB ($259.99); all drives come with a two-year warranty.
What I Like: Large memory in a compact package; security and encryption software included; clever built-in capacity display
What Needs Improvement: Extremely slow boot times on Mac unless you reformat, and then you lose the built-in capacity display feature; lanyard loop should have been on the JumpDrive, not on its cap