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It’ll be interesting to see where LaCie takes its product line now that Seagate has acquired the company. Our advice? Don’t mess with the Rugged series of hard drives and flash drives. The LaCie Rugged Hard Disk is still the go-to product for extremists, but now the RuggedKey lets you take your data anywhere and keep it secure without the bulk of a hard drive enclosure.
Clearly, LaCie combined its two best products, borrowing the orange rubber aesthetic from the Rugged hard drives, and the actual USB key is almost identical to the discontinued IamaKey flash drive. The key is stylish and small enough to hang around with your car keys, and its water-resistant rubber covering protects against dust, heat, cold, and drops of up to 100 meters.
The RuggedKey caps out at 32GB of space (we tested the 16GB version), which isn’t much for the price you’re paying. Its transfer speeds help only marginally, with USB 3.0 read and write speeds topping out at 138MBps and 35MBps, respectively. Plus, Macs with the now-antiquated USB 2.0 will be stuck with 26MBps and 17MBps read and write speeds.
The RuggedKey can be password protected with secure AES 256-bit encryption. And it comes with a year of LaCie’s Wuala secure cloud storage software, which allows you to back up your content one-to-one, or to double the drive’s storage capacity, though naturally you’ll need Internet access to get to those files. Of course, you don’t actually need these services because Disk Utility and Dropbox can provide the same encryption and backup features, but Wuala can come in handy if you’re using the drive with different computers.
The bottom line. If you need a hardcore hard drive that can stand the test of time and carry decades of research wherever you go, invest in LaCie’s Rugged hard drive and partition it with a NTFS driver to make it available to Windows machines, too. But if you just need an easy-to-carry, multiplatform USB stick that can handle rough weather, the LaCie RuggedKey is worth its price.
USB port, Internet connection for Wuala service
Fast transfer speeds in USB 3.0 configurations. Rugged shell protects against any kind of weather.
Slow write speeds in either USB configuration. Doesn’t float.