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Product Review: ToughDrive Camo USB2.0 Flash Drive

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I don’t know if anyone else’s school did this, but every year when I took the ever dreaded grade school picture, I was given a free plastic comb. Usually in a variety of bold colors, these combs always had a little inscription that read “unbreakable.” But for a grade schooler, it wasn’t just an informative adjective. It was a challenge.

My entire class would spend the rest of the day trying to break those plastic combs. And eventually after much persistent bending, one lucky kid would prove the inscription wrong. And with bleeding thumbs, the child would exclaim, “This hot pink comb lied to me! It’s not unbreakable at all!”

I like to believe that the ATP ToughDrive Camo USB 2.0 Flash Drive was trying to do the same thing the comb makers were: create a durable product that can withstand a dangerous environment (i.e. grade school classrooms, Iraq). The ToughDrive is housed in synthetic polymer making it water resistant, shock absorbing, and resistant to extreme temperature and dust.

However, it’s good to know there are still people out there that consider such a claim more of a challenge. But as you can see in the following obnoxiously loud video, the ToughDrive Camo holds up to its promise, well, almost to the very end.

So ignore the legal stuff in the user’s manual that reads, "Keep this Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Flash Disk away from heat, direct sunlight, and water. Do not bend, flex, or drop it.” The ToughDrive can take all of the above and more. However, although the name holds up, my experience with some of the other features was disappointing.

First, let’s take a look at the ToughDrive USB 2.0 specs:

  • Certified High Speed USB 1.1/2.0
  • Dimensions: 2 1/2" x 3/4"
  • Smooth synthetic Polymer Housing with side grips
  • LED Status Light
  • Carabiner
  • 2-year warranty
  • Available with 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB of storage
  • Data transfer rate of 30MB/sec with USB 2.0 port
  • Enhanced ReadyBoost for Windows (With this feature, the USB flash is used to increase system memory and performance for Windows Vista.)
  • Compatible with Windows 98SE and above, Mac OS 9.0 and above, and Linux Kernel 2.4.0 and above

My ToughDrive was supposed to be the 4GB version; however, when I opened the user manual and started tinkering with my toy, I realized there was only 38 MB of storage space, which wouldn’t allow me to take advantage of the Ready Boost feature for Windows Vista or 30 MB/sec transfer rate. And alas, all my attempts at reformatting were useless.

So instead I tried messing with the password protection system. The Tough Drive comes with a program that allows you to partition your information into a password protected area and a generally accessible area. The program is fairly simple and easy to use. However, it is also self-deleting. If you partition too much, the manual warns that your information will be deleted. But also be warned, not only your information, but the user’s manual and the program also. And as much as you wish the website on the back of the package actually took you to an on-line version of the manual, it doesn’t.

I’ve been waiting now to get my replacement flash drive, but have yet to speak to someone helpful. I don’t want to say right out that this storage device isn’t worth buying based on my experience with it. With all technology, you’re going to have these problems, and I’ve read several reviews by people who have had an excellent experience with the ToughDrive USB 2.0. But I've also read some that have had similar trouble.

Basically if you’re the type that’s always on the move, often drops things and runs over them on accident, or likes proving that everything man-made is in fact breakable, the ToughDrive might work for you. But maybe if you’re looking for something a little more reliable, you might want to save your fifty bucks and study up on some other flash drives that might not give you so much trouble.

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About Janica Unruh