PNY IronKey 4GB Flash Drive Review

Posted: Dec 11 2007, 12:00am CST | by , Updated: Aug 10 2010, 9:18am CDT, in Peripheral


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Features & Specifications
The PNY IronKey uses always on AES encryption that is capable of encrypting everything written to the drive on the fly. The encryption keys are generated in hardware by a FIPS 140-2 compliant true random number generator on the IronKey cryptochip. These keys never leave the IronKey secure hardware to be placed into your computer.

Other features of the PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive include an onboard Firefox browser that allows secure and safe web browsing form the IronKey. When installed on any computer the IronKey drive controls where your data traffic enters and exits allowing secure web surfing anywhere preventing keylogging and spyware from entering your computer. Pricing for the PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive is $149.99 and the drive is designed for Windows XP and Vista. PNY claims a write speed of 20MB/seconds and a 30MB/second read speed.

Setting up the PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive is easy and when you first plug the drive into your USB port an onscreen menu pops up to prompt you to initialize the drive. This includes accepting a couple user agreements and choosing your password for the drive. The IronKey then generates the AES keys needed for encryption your data. The drive also gives you the chance to back your password up online so you can retrieve it and gain access to your data if you forget it. The drive needs no drivers and after setting up the password you are ready to use the always encrypted drive for data storage.

Benchmarks & Testing
To test the performance of the PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive I used HD Tach, Sandra XII and moved a large file to and from the drive. The first test was with HD Tach.

HD Tach
HD Tach showed a random access time of 6.4ms with a CPU utilization of 3ms. The write time recoded was 10.3 MB/s and the read time recoded was 18.9MB/sec. Both the read and write times were about half of what PNY reports for the drive.

Sandra XII
The next test up was Sandra XII’s removable storage benchmark. This test showed a device index of 902 ops/minute and an endurance factor of 1.0. The results of the 2MB files test are below:

2MB Files Test
Read Performance : 519 operation(s)/min (17715 kB/sec, 118x)
Write Performance : 47 operation(s)/min (1604 kB/sec, 10x)
Delete Performance : 525 ops/minute
File Fragments : 1.0
Combined Index : 120 ops/minute

File Transfer
For the final test I moved a large folder containing 562MB of data to and from the drive and timed the process with a stopwatch. Writing the 562MB folder to the PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive took 1 min and 55 seconds. Reading the same folder from the PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive to the system drive took 31 seconds.

Final Thoughts
If you need to carry data securely you are going to have to give up performance to the encryption of the data as it is moved to the flash drive. Even then the numbers I measured in this review are about half of the claimed speeds. That said, I would be perfectly willing to give up speed to get a flash drive that I don’t have to worry about losing and don’t have to save to a special folder to encrypt the data. The PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive encrypts everything as you save it to the drive.




  • Always on encryption
  • Small size
  • Rugged aluminum case


  • Read and write speeds half the claimed speeds

When someone goes looking for a flash drive like the PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive they are looking for data security rather than pure performance. The PNY IronKey 4GB flash drive certainly lives up to the data security requirements with great ease of use. The data speeds are far from the fastest I have measured, but the drive is certainly livable on a daily basis and you don’t have to worry about data theft.


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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/3" rel="author">Shane McGlaun</a>
Tech and Car expert Shane McGlaun (Google) reports about what's new in these two sectors. His extensive experience in testing cars, computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
Shane can be contacted directly at




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