Hardware encryption stands guard over your data security. Kingston DataTraveler Vault review.

In the last five years people and companies all over the world experienced a few significant and numerous smaller data security incidents. In short, sensitive data that in the eyes of its owner is priceless is under daily attack. The protection is important especially if you travel a lot and you do not want to be hassled. If you’re looking for a safe and secure way to transport very sensitive data, you should really take a good look at this flash drive. The DataTraveler Vault from Kingston is a state-of-the-art flash drive featuring hardware-based, 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).


Robust security is the primary feature that was engineered into the DTV drives. A two-layer security mechanism that features user authentication and hardware-based, real-time data encryption guards sensitive data stored in the privacy zone.

  • Full Encryption – 100 percent of stored data is protected by hardware-based, 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
  • Secure – after 10 consecutive invalid attempts, the DT Vault will lock out the privacy zone; the only option left at this point is to reformat the drive, destroy the encryption key, thus losing all the encrypted data stored in the privacy zone.
  • Easy to use – no admin rights or application installation required

The installation process requires no implementation of a special program for managing the device. Simply just insert the key into a USB port on your computer and start setting the key. After setting the password, the key DTV formats.

Appointed DTV, abbreviation of the file name extending this hardware partition (indelible), contains the instructions and applications suitable for Mac and PC.

User Authentication

To activate the security features of the DataTraveler Vault, the user must create a privacy or encrypted zone. As shipped from the factory, the DT Vault drive is set up as a single – Public zone. All data stored in the Public zone can be read by any host computer.

Public and Privacy Zones

You should create a privacy zone for the storage of secure data using DTVaultLock, the DT Vault’s access protection software for Windows-based systems. Then define a password to control access to the privacy zone, which is an area on the drive where all sensitive data is kept. The password is stored in the DT Vault in an encrypted way which makes it very difficult to decrypt.

The public and private zones size is set when the DT Vault drive is first used, or when the owner wants to update the relative sizes. For this purpose in Setting DataTraveler Vault’s Privacy Zone window use the slider. In  our case the slider is not accessible thus after setting up the Privacy zone size it is not possible to update it – increase or decrease. It may be a glitch or old firmware version (104).


The process of creating a password on Kingston DataTraveler is divided into several stages –

  • Choice of language.
  • Then you must set the password. Important, it must consist of at least 6 characters
  • Note: that it is impossible to use the copy / paste the clipboard. An additional way to protect the password itself. You can also set Hint question in case you lost password

  • After setting the password, the key DTV formats.

Once the process of initializing your password completed, the product behaves like a standard USB key with the exception that at each insertion into the USB port the secret volume is accessible only after validating the password.

Utilizing hardware encryption does not expose the AES “key” to host computers or networks thus increasing security. The encrypted user password and the key are never shared outside of the DT Vault drive. With software-based encryption approaches, the key or keys are exposed to the host computer and network.

Benefits of using DTV Hardware-Based Encryption vs. Software Approaches

DTV Hardware-Based
Encryption vs. Software Approaches
Other USB Drives
with Software-based Encryption
Invalid Password Retry limit Yes Rare
Advanced hashing (encoding) of user password to secure it Yes Varies
Data encrypted/decrypted on host computer No Yes
AES key exposed to host computer or network No Yes
Performance quality High Low (40-50 % slower)
Transparent encryption/decryption (drag & drop; copy and paste files) Yes Rare

Lock/Unlock Private Zone

  • Once the volume is opened it remains only to double click on DTVaultLock.exe.

  • You will see two partitions: Public or unencrypted zone (includes DTVaultLock security software for Windows to access encrypted section); zone size user customizable, (292 Mb in our case).

  • And Private: utilizes 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) hardware-based encryption (encrypted zone, 1580 Mb in our case); can be locked down and reformats after 10 intrusion attempts. Once the password is successfully entered, the data content of the drive is visible and accessible.

  • The minute you want to log out of the Private zone you’d have to go to My Computer click on SECURE KING (F:) and click on Logout DTVaultLock. Once it’s clicked on you get a warning message:

With no fear click OK but first save your data 😉

The only thing that is really lacking in this flash drive is an icon in the system tray near the clock that appears after  you have successfully logged into DTVaultLock. Well, I did really miss it. It would have been much easier to lock/unlock the Private zone using an icon. This feature is nicely implemented in Kanguru Defender.


One of the features that is not presented in this hardware encrypted flash drive is Backup. Some may take it as a drawback but we look at it as an attempt to make DTV usage less complicated yet secure enough for all your portable private data. In this case we may suggest you using such free portable encryption softwares as Rohos Mini Drive, TrueCrypt and OTFE. Creating password protected encrypted container on your computer HDD you may backup your DTV data and not worry abouts its exposure to anyone who has access to your PC.

OS support and Waterproof protection

Windows compatibility: Vista/ 2000 SP4/ XP SP1, 2; Mac OS 10.3.x and above (file transfer only in public zone)/ Linux Kernel 2.6 and above. For added protection, the drives are designed to withstand harsh operating conditions, and feature waterproof industrial aluminum casings.


The DataTraveler Vault from Kingston is a portable storage, reliable and easy to use for securely storing, carrying and transferring important files. Though it’s a bit overpriced for the features it has but I guess due to the fact that it’s from the greatest name in memory makes it that attractive for corporations and consumers.

Take a look at our comparison matrix of Encrypted USB flash drives.