LaCie RuggedKey review: LaCie RuggedKey

The RuggedKey's case can be easily pulled off (and put back on), revealing the actual thumbdrive, which looks just like any other thumbdrive: about the size of a regular house key with the USB male port at one end. The RuggedKey's port supports USB 3.0 and also works with USB 2.0 and the legacy original USB ports.

Out of the box the RuggedKey is formatted in FAT32, which works with both Macs and Windows computers. FAT32 can't handle files larger than 4GB, however, so if you want to carry large files on the drive, you'll need to reformat it into either NTFS or HFS+. Before you do that, make sure you back up the drive's included software applications; they are bundled on the drive itself.

The software package includes Intego Backup Assistant for Mac (though you might want to skip it and use Time Machine instead), Genie Timeline backup for Windows, and LaCie Private-Public security software.

LaCie Private-Public, first introduced with the LaCie FastKey, allows users when run for the first time to pick a password and format part of the drive's existing storage space into a separate partition that's protected with AES 256-bit encryption. You can choose the size of this new partition as long as it's smaller than the existing partition. The formatting process took a long time in my trials (15 minutes for a partition of 3.5GB), though it was supposed to take just a few minutes per the software's estimate. After that, a new partition with the default name "La-Private" is created. You now can use both the existing partition and the La-Private partition at the same time, with the latter requiring the password you created earlier before you can access it.

Apart from that, the RuggedKey comes with a one-year subscription to Wuala online backup, which offers the same amount of online storage as that of the RuggedKey, either 16GB or 32GB, depending on the capacity you get. After one year, Wuala costs about $4 a month for each 20GB of online storage.

Performance
The LaCie RuggedKey performed well in my tests, though its reading speed was much better than its writing speed.

When used with USB 3.0, the drive scored 42MBps for writing, the slowest among all USB 3.0 drives I've tested. In reading, however, it topped the charts with 117MBps. With USB 2.0, the drive performed more similarly to others with 27MBps for writing and 35MBps for reading, about average on the chart.

I noticed the RuggedKey became hot during heavy data transferring section but quickly cooled down once the job was done. This is rather normal for a thumbdrive that's made mostly of metal.

USB 3.0 external hard-drive performance (in MB per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
LaCie RuggedKey
116.82 
41.7 
LaCie FastKey
115.5 
87.1 
Lexar JumpDrive Triton
112.19 
90.8 
IoSafe Solo G3
110.98 
109.1 
Seagate Backup Plus
110.1 
90.9 
ioSafe SoloPro
106 
77.1 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
104.9 
87.7 
Hitachi Touro Mobile Pro
103.5 
86.2 
Clickfree C6
103.4 
87.7 
Silicon Power Armor A80
102.7 
87.8 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
101.9 
82.4 
HP Portable Hard Drive
83.65 
69.4 

USB 2.0 external hard-rive performance (in MB per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Lexar JumpDrive Triton
33.1 
28.8 
Clickfree C2N
40.1 
28.2 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
37.3 
27.7 
LaCie FastKey
36.6 
28.8 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
36.5 
28.7 
LaCie RuggedKey
35.22 
26.6 
Clickfree C6
33.1 
28.7 
Seagate Backup Plus
33 
28.74 
G-Technology G-Connect
31.3 
30.9 
Seagate Satellite
28.8 
32.7 

Conclusion
With good performance and a nice design, the LaCie RuggedKey is an excellent thumbdrive, despite its relatively high price tag.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 1.1 oz
  • Storage Capacity 32 GB