Review: The SAFE – Encrypted Info Vault on a USB Drive

by Khalid Hosein on July 24, 2010

The SAFE Encrypted Data VaultSecure USB flash drives seems to be a GfG meme these days, so it’s fitting that we review one such product in more depth.

The SAFE from Life Link International is an encrypted 2GB USB thumb drive that comes pre-loaded with over 40 forms on which you can enter personal information. The main point of The SAFE is, as the name suggests, an electronic safe to store important personal data. It isn’t really meant to be a general storage thumb drive.

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Main Review
The first thing you’re faced with when you plug The SAFE into your Windows box is a form asking you for the password to encrypt all of your data. This is also the password that you will use every time you plug the drive in. Choose well, as you won’t be able to change the password without losing access to the data that you’ve already entered.

There are Sections for entering info including your personal data, insurance info, medical insurance and health history, family and emergency contacts, financial information, wills, photographs and much more. If anything, there may be too many options. Instead, there should be a way to create your very own customized section. Currently, there is only a blank page section where you can type in any notes you’d like.

The SAFE - Encrypted data vault

I don’t care for the interface. This may just be because I’m a geek who likes features and power, and lots of control over their software. Here’s some of what I see that’s a bit limiting – you need to click through serially to get to data that you’ve already entered. The data entry forms are the same as the data display, which means it’s pretty easy to change data even if you’re just viewing it.

But this can be a matter of perspective. On the bright side, it takes away the pain of having to think of what important data and information you have in your life that you need to write down and keep safe.

All of the forms and more are there right in front of you, no learning curve, just click and go. It’s also portable and comes in a nice case. I was tickled by the closing lock animation and sound effect when I exited the app.

Wishlist
Here is my wishlist for this product:

  • Would like to see a 3rd-party verification of their encryption, although if you try to open any of the files up, they are clearly encrypted. Obviously, I don’t have the time to spend trying to crack the encryption.
  • I don’t see why you need to specify a different name for a file when you upload one.
  • I also don’t understand why document upload is capped at 100MB, especially when the thumb drive is 2GB, while photographs get the bulk of the space. This doesn’t make sense to me. It should just be based on however much space there is. If you want to upload 1.5 GB of files and documents, and no photographs, that should be your prerogative.
  • Too many form options. It actually makes finding the correct form for your data a bit tough.
  • It should be searchable, and there should be a sitemap.
  • Of course, improve the interface. It’s difficult to quickly get to data once it’s in there. For example, you shouldn’t have to click “Next” 3 times to get to the page that contains a specific document.

Final Thoughts
The SAFE fills a needed niche, but needs improvment in this reviewer’s opinion. However, that doesn’t mean it’s unusable. Far from it. It just may be more geared to the less technical user.

As an aside, if you’re looking for an online ‘safe’, instead of this portable, physical solution, you may want to consider the alternative – storing your data ‘in the cloud’. For example, one such service is Legacy Locker, and there are quite a few other such services out there; your bank may even offer one.

Win The SAFE
Head over to our Facebook page and make a comment on the entry (there) for this article and tell us how chaotic your ‘filing system’ is. You could win The SAFE to clean things up ($50 value). Giveaway and Contest Rules

(Disclaimer: Gizmos for Geeks received a complimentary review copy of this product.)