So you want to take important Mac docs and other files with you, but you don’t want others to have access to your data.  Now you can, easier than ever, just by using a $35-ish Verbatim Store ‘n Go 8GB flash drive for Mac. Mac users, pay attention, and this includes students!

What’s Hot

• Capless design

• Preformatted and ready to go for Mac users

• Allows users to adjust the size of Public and Private Zones on the drive – the more private, the less public and vice versa.

• Easy to use – provided with V-Safe for Mac software to install and use for managing files.

• Password protected Private Zone – contents need not be password protected

• Private Zone accessible from any OS X Mac

• Write Protect software option enabling prevents alteration or deletion of files in both public and private areas.

 

What’s Not

• Some users may find setup to be not quite as easy as did this user.

• Public Zone must be formatted to be accessible on Windows PCs, but is also accessible on Macs.

• Private Zone NOT accessible on Windows PCs from this Mac-centric device and the Windows-based product cannot access Private Zone on Macs, so, . . .

• No true cross-platform password-protected area is possible

• NOTHING, including this, is a substitute for traditional data backup!

 

Simple.  I like simple, don’t you?  That’s what this product is all about.  No, it’s not government-grade security.  It’s as strong as the password chosen by the user and therein is the simplicity.  It’s also priced to be available to the masses.  Sure, you can buy very strong government-level secure flash drives at a cost of more than $150 for 8GB capacity, but do you really need that level of security?  Most of us do not.

Here’s the drill. Open the blister pack and extract the capless drive.  Press the slider to the open position to expose the USB connector.  There’s nothing to lose!  Already I like this thing. Instantly upon recognition on a Mac of OS 10.4.11 or higher, a window will show a Read Me and User’s Guide logo for the V-Safe For Mac product.

Click through the installer, restart when instructed and then launch the V-Safe application that was placed in your Mac’s Utilities folder.    Open the User’s Guide and follow the instructions for what to do after installation.

I consider this simple, but I also acknowledge that some consumers are already beyond their comfort level just reading about this.  Trust me, it’s easy.  Just follow instructions that are short and to the point.

Instructions call for adjusting an on-screen slider to determine the ratio of Private Zone to Public Zone from the maximum storage space available, which starts at an indicated 7.5GB.  Then, instructions call for formatting the drive according to these settings.

Here is where a decision must be made.  Out of the packaging, the drive is Mac-formatted.  This is a fine choice should the drive only ever be used in a Mac environment.  However, as many users encounter in the real world, it may be necessary to connect with a Windows PC in addition to Macs.  What if we have a Word document we need to share on a Windows computer?  Since Macs can read both Windows- and Mac-formatted drives, then it might make more sense to format the Public Zone in a FAT format (this is a Windows choice) that is workable for Macs and Windows computers. Remember, the Public Zone is NOT protected. It is as it would be on any old USB flash drive or other media that is not protected.  It’s just a method of sharing data, plain and simple.

Think of each area, Public and Private, as the adjustable separate partitions they are and name them as you wish, either with the default PublicZone and PrivateZone as they come, or choose your own.  Now, get ready to format!

Have a look back at the open V-Safe utility window and notice those Public and Private zone names and the formatting dropdown beneath each one.  This is where it is the user selects either Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or MS-DOS (FAT) as the format du jour.

For my tests, I tried it both ways.  Be sure of the amount of storage dedicated to each and adjust the slider.   This can be changed later, but doing so will necessitate reformatting the drive to make the changes, which is to be expected.  This means that data on the drive will be erased, so keep this in mind and move data on and off the drive as needed.  Click on a choice and then click to Format.

It is at this time users are shown the page on which passwords are set.  This is ONLY for the Private Zone. Choose, Confirm and then add a hint, if that is the user’s choice.

All of this is pretty standard stuff, formatting and all.  It’s just that the software is tied to this Store ‘n Go drive and cannot be used with a conventional flash drive.

Now the formatting is complete and the Public area shows up on the computer desktop, but not the Private partition.  Access to the Private area is gained using the V-Safe Utility wherein users can switch between both areas, but not have both open at the same time, regardless of how the drive is formatted.  Within the Public Zone resides the V-Safe software installer, which is not erased when the drive is reformatted. This is good!

Whenever the drive is connected to a computer, it defaults to the Public Zone, hiding the Private Zone.  The Private Zone on the Mac product is only accessible on a Mac, too, regardless of how the drive is formatted.  Make sense?

So, now, to use the drive, drag and drop any files either onto the folder or drive icon, as is the user’s preference.  Remember to empty the computer’s trash any time data is deleted from this or any flash drive in order to recapture the space.  Otherwise, the space is still allocated, event though the space may appear, visually, to be available.

The simplicity is solid, as has been performance.  For only about $35, which is about $10 more than a standard, non-secure capless 8GB flash drive, users can buy security they need to guard against data loss or theft at a level that should be just fine for nearly all consumers.  Verbatim has a strong reputation for quality, so I have expectations of a long and trouble free life.

For students, moms and dads and just about anyone who needs to shuttle data between Macs or between a Mac AND Windows PC & home or office or dorm and anywhere else, and who needs to do so with reasonable data security on a portion of the drive, get one of these.  For Windows use only, get the Verbatim secure flash drive similar to this, but costing a bit less.

 

Final thoughts

The reason to get one of these and not the less expensive Windows-targeted product is for the V-Safe Mac software that allows setup of and access to the Private Zone that must be performed on a Mac.  If users need Mac compatibility for public document sharing and security for another partition but with the primary objective of setting things up on a Windows PC, and for a Windows only-based Private Zone, get the Windows product and not this one.

Finally, for any user who just needs to shuttle unprotected data between any computers, regardless of format, go old school and get a plain old flash drive!

Shop online for the best price, usually at Amazon.com.

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