LaCie Rugged Key USB memory stick

Cliff Jospeh, Macworld UK
17 September, 2012
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LaCie Rugged Key



Physically rugged; password-protection for extra security


More expensive than a conventional memory stick

$49 (16GB); $89 (32GB)


Cloud storage services such as Dropbox – and, of course, Apple’s own iCloud – make it easy to store your important files online and gain access to them from multiple devices. However, there are times when you may not be within easy reach of a Wi-Fi network or Ethernet cable, and you need to fall back on a good old-fashioned hard disk or memory stick to back-up your files.

LaCie’s new Rugged Key is specifically designed for laptop users who need strong, reliable protection for their files when they’re out and about. We tested the 16GB version, which costs $49 but there’s also a 32GB version available for $89.

The Rugged Key actually comes in two parts. The memory stick itself is made out of aluminium and is sturdy enough that you could carry it around on its own without really worrying about it getting damaged. However, if you’re planning on hiking with your MacBook Air then you can quickly slip the Rugged Key into the chunky rubber sleeve that is included in order to provide extra protection.

LaCie says that this sleeve can survive drops of up to 100m, and is heat-, cold-, dust- and water-resistant as well. There’s some additional digital protection too, as the Rugged Key includes LaCie’s Private-Public software that allows you to set up password protection and 256-bit encryption for your files. You also get a year’s subscription to the Wuala online back-up service that gives you 16GB of online storage – enough to back-up the entire contents of the Rugged Key when you get back home.

The Rugged Key has a USB 3 interface, so you can use it with the latest MacBook models that have USB 3. We got a snappy speed of about 650Mbps when backing up a 5GB batch of test files – not the fastest we’ve seen from a USB 3 device, but still around the average. And, of course, it will be compatible with USB 2 on older Macs as well.

Macworld Australia‘s buying advice

The Rugged Key is a lot more expensive than an ordinary memory stick, but it could be a good investment for people who regularly work outdoors with their laptop and need extra protection for their important work files. Its encryption option also provides another layer of security in case the Rugged Key gets lost or stolen.

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