REVIEW: Lexar JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS Survives Torture Testing, Keeping Data Intact and Safe

In eWEEK Labs' tests, Lexar's ruggedized JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS survived a stint in the dishwasher and a four-story drop, among other torture tests. And, if anyone was able to compromise the actual device, the data stored on it would be wiped. Using a smart card for authentication and encryption, the JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS is a safe (literally) bet for individuals, but it lacks some of the management capabilities of its rivals.

Lexar's JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS is the first USB flash memory storage device to use a smart card for authentication and encryption to keep the data stored on it safe from prying eyes. And, in eWEEK Labs' tests, the ruggedized device took a beating and kept on reading.

Check out eWEEK Labs' gallery of images showing the JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS surviving its torture tests.

The Lexar device is an excellent choice for a single user or a few corporate users who need rugged and encrypted USB storage. The user interface is streamlined and well-designed, and performance was consistently good in testing. However, the device's management capabilities don't measure up to rivals', and it is pricey compared with "regular" USB drives: $99 for the 2GB model and $199 for the 8GB model. The device is also noticeably heavier than a typical USB flash drive, at 1.7 ounces. In fact, I believe that when attached to a lanyard, it would be as effective as a sock full of quarters during a physical altercation.

During testing, the first thing that struck me about the JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS is how solidly constructed it is. The actual memory is sealed within a metal case using a military-grade epoxy compound. If someone did manage to crack the case, the memory inside would be destroyed.

It's hard to imagine the JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS being damaged accidentally. During tests, I dropped it on a concrete floor, spiked it on the same floor as if I'd just scored a touchdown, and threw it down a flight of stairs as well as off the roof of my four-story building. All that torture testing caused no more than superficial damage to the device. Not even whacking it straight on from three different angles by dropping a 2-pound weight from a foot above the device caused a problem.

For comparison, my test USB memory stick survived nothing more than a simple drop to the floor.

The device's only vulnerability is the actual USB metal connector, which could be easily snapped off using pliers and shearing force or a hammer from exactly the right angle. But that wouldn't do anyone any good-the outer shell of the device would be destroyed, but the data inside of it would remain inaccessible.

Water Logged

The JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS is Department of Defense MIL-STD-810F waterproof. While I was unable to test in deep water where there would have been significant pressure on the device (Lexar says the device is waterproof to 30m), I did subject the JumpDrive SAFE S3000 FIPS to multiple liquid tests.

First, I tied it to a buoy and threw it into Barnegat Bay, where it hung about 6 feet deep in salt water for about a month. Afterward, the data was still intact. I just had to make sure that I dried off the USB connector before mounting the drive. Data on the drive also remained intact after a full wash and rinse cycle in the dishwasher (a test my normal USB drive survived, as well).