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Aluratek Tornado Plus review: Aluratek Tornado Plus

The data stored on the Tornado Plus is protected by a security system that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to enable and disable access to the drive. The only way to unlock the information stored inside is with the key included in the package, as long as you remember to associate both keys (Aluratek includes two just in case) with the drive in the initial set up process. We like the idea of mobile data security, but the external key is just one more thing to get lost in the shuffle or increase an already cluttered keychain. We much prefer built-in hardware-based encryption that requires a password for access, even if it does mean one more password to memorize. Still, the Maxtor Black Armor external hard drive is a more practical alternative and serves its purpose well if you don't plan on swapping drives.

Cost per gigabyte
For $129, the 160GB Aluratek Tornado Plus isn't exactly a bargain at 81 cents per gigabyte, although it's still not as expensive as the Maxtor Black Armor. Still, the rest of the industry offers much better deals; the Toshiba hard drive we recently tested is the least expensive, but it also happens to be the slowest. The best compromise of speed and cost is the WD My Passport Studio that offers a 320GB drive for $185 (58 cents per GB) with chart-topping data transfers.

Model Capacity Est. street price Cost per GB
Maxtor Black Armor 160GB $150 94 cents
WD My Passport Studio 320GB $185 58 cents
Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive 160GB $100 63 cents
OWC Mercury On-The-Go 500GB $350 70 cents
Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External HDD 320GB $180 56 cents
Aluratek Tornado Plus 160GB $129 81 cents

The Aluratek Tornado Plus's read and write speeds aren't very impressive, either. The Tornado barely beat the Toshiba and pushes it into the second-to-slowest slot, but that's not saying much given that the Toshiba tested slower than any other drive we've seen. At a blisteringly slow 97.04 megabits per second, the Tornado is a full 41 megabits per second slower than the OWC Mercury On-The-Go.

Write/read speed (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read (Mb/s)  
Write (Mb/s)  
iomega eGo Leather
Maxtor BlackArmor
OWC Mercury On-The-Go
Aluratek Tornado Plus

Service and Support
Aluratek covers the Tornado Plus hard drive from product defects for one year from the date of purchase. The Aluratek Web site has additional information, including a knowledge base with a comprehensive FAQ list, a file library for manual and driver downloads, and a section that allows you to create a help ticket. Unfortunately, the site gives no mention of a number for telephone support.

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