STARAY S2 Series S225-1S-B2

Fast and flimsy.

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STARAY S2 Series S225-1S-B2
  • STARAY S2 Series S225-1S-B2
  • STARAY S2 Series S225-1S-B2
  • STARAY S2 Series S225-1S-B2

Pros

  • Extra security, easy to install a hard drive, fast transfer speeds, simple software manager

Cons

  • Feels fragile, unattractive, encryption is not the highest level currently available

Bottom Line

It may look and feel flimsy, but the STARAY S2 Series S225-1S-B2 is a useful little hard drive enclosure designed for a 2.5in notebook HDD. It is simple and effective.

Would you buy this?

The Staray S2 Series S225-1S-B2 is a drive enclosure that allows owners to choose which standard 2.5in hard drive they want to use as an external hard drive. It also provides extra security features. Although the casing feels flimsy and the encryption isn't the current industry standard, it's still worth considering.

As the speed of external hard drives increases and the cost per gigabyte decreases, the usefulness of a drive enclosure largely depends on what extra features it brings to the table and how simple it is to use.

The bay is only large enough to house a single 2.5in drive (the size of a standard notebook drive). Installing the drive doesn't require any screws, and the Serial ATA connection (which has an interface speed of 1.5GB per second) means that any modern notebook drive will slide right into the connection.

The case itself is unattractive, with a garish metal panel on the removable plate. The unit looks and feels very fragile, creaks with every squeeze and won't stand up to much punishment, so users should handle it with care.

The enclosure's stand-out feature is the fingerprint reader on its front. This is designed to offer quick and easy access to a secure partition of the hard drive that is "invisible" until the correct fingerprint or password is entered.

The software that initially prepares the inserted drive is unsurprisingly named Initial.exe and is relatively easy to use. Users set the proportion of openly visible space to secured private space, and format the drive accordingly — a process that doesn't take more than a few minutes.

Once this is done, a separate program automatically starts up and registers the user's fingerprints and password, completing the process and allowing for relatively safe data storage.

The S225-1S-B2 primarily uses 128-bit DES encryption to secure data on the drive. If the drive is removed from the case and connected directly to a computer, it appears to be an unformatted and empty hard drive.

It should be noted that 128-bit DES encryption has been cracked in the past and that AES encryption is now considered the industry and government standard. However, it would still take a very committed hacker with a very expensive computer setup a long time to break into the drive.

Once the correct fingerprint or password has been entered, the secure partition of the drive appears as a separate drive. The transfer speeds of both the secured and unsecured sections are the same. For our benchmarking, we used a Western Digital Scorpio Blue (WD5000BEVT) that spins up at 5400rpm.

When transferring a folder with 5GB of data from a PC using a Seagate Barracuda ES2 that spins up at 7200rpm to the enclosure, we recorded read/write speeds of 31.1 megabytes per second and 25MBps, respectively, while the copy transfer test recorded 15MBps. These are fast times, especially when compared to the Seagate FreeAgent Go, which is currently the fastest external hard drive we've reviewed.

All in all, the Staray S2 Series S225-1S-B2 is a relatively affordable device that offers additional security, albeit in an ugly and fragile package. Unless users are willing to splurge on the Seagate Maxtor BlackArmour drive, which features less hard drive space but better encryption, this is a good bet that provides an increased choice of hard drives.

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