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CRUSH TEST: IronKey Windows To Go Drive vs ’85 Ford 150 Truck


That’s right.  We crush tested a 1.12 ounce IronKey™ Workspace W500 USB drive against a 1985 Ford F150 truck weighing 4,600 pounds. Odds are on the truck with its equivalent of 73,600 oz. to the IronKey Windows To Go device at 1.12 oz.  Right?  Not if it’s an IronKey.  Not only are IronKey drives the world’s most secure USB devices; they are also the most durable, ruggedized drives in the industry.  And we set out to prove it again at a press event at the Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) in Silicon Valley.

To demonstrate IronKey’s ruggedness to editors, Leon Brown drove his Ford 150 truck over theW500 device.  The result?  The IronKey device weighing a mere 1.12 oz., stood up to the crush test with only a few light surface scratches and booted a full Windows 10 desktop without any problems, just seconds after the test.  Now, imagine if your laptop was run over by a truck.  It would be broken, crumpled and all data would be destroyed.  It would also mean anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 would go down the drain.

The event showcased the enterprise feature of Windows To Go working with Microsoft Windows 10. IronKey, Microsoft enthusiasts and key editors joined to discuss mobile workspace trends and Windows To Go as a secure way to solve BYOD, remote endpoint security, contractor enablement and more.  After the editors booted up their own IronKey workspace devices, Leon and Chris Louie conducted a hands-on lab to demonstrate how to provision and manage IronKey workspace drives.

And believe it or not, this wasn’t the most extreme test we’ve conducted.  Previous IronKey Special Ops tests have included our devices being run over by a tank, being put through the washing machine and more.  To see IronKey stand up to the Ford F150, watch a one minute video of the event here:



Introducing IronKey Workspace W200 – Affordable and Secure Windows To Go


W200 – The Basics

This morning we introduced the IronKey™ Workspace W200 – our most affordable Windows To Go device to date. The W200 is a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Windows To Go device in a new lightweight ruggedized design. The device comes in black, includes the always present IronKey LED that signals when your device is running, and provides a loop so you can add to your keyring or a lanyard. Like all IronKey devices the W200 is waterproof, shockproof and meets MIL-STD-810G test specifications like its siblings. The W200 has excellent performance clocking Max Read speeds of 310MB/second and Max Write of 159MB/second.  I’ve compared this to my everyday W500 and don’t see any noticeable lag. Like all IronKey Windows To Go devices the W200 is Microsoft Certified and Windows 10 Ready and can be used with all IronKey deployment tools including our mass Provisioning Tool or scriptable Command Line Utility. The W200 allows for usage of Bitlocker To Go encryption so you make use of all your Microsoft skills in creating and protecting your mobile workforce.  The IronKey Workspace W200 devices are available now through our partners, starting at $96 for a 32GB device.

Top Use Cases

Where is the volume? The largest deployments of IronKey Windows To Go are coming from two types of customers. The first are those who have been saving money over deploying new hardware to employees and contractors. Telefónica Deutschland recently noted a savings of 2,500 Euros (USD approx. $2800) on hardware over a three-year period – and they’re not alone. We’re seen many organizations find they can buy 10-20 W200 devices for the price of a single laptop.

The second use case we’re seeing in volume is the “secure container” where IT is leveraging Windows To Go for consistency and security. Here how it works with VDI/VPN and Remote Workers – IT creates a Windows image that contains Windows OS, all the software to VPN in, the Citrix Receiver or VMWare Player and any security software they might need and hand those out to employees and contractors. Why? Well, the biggest answer is saving time and money for IT as it reduces support calls from users who have trouble and call in from home machines. In addition employees like it too – no longer are there the hassles of security scans and the perception of IT invading the home machine – just plug-in, boot and go.

What’s Next?

Keep an eye out on our website for some updates that I think you’ll really like.




Windows To Go Devices: Upgrading Your Windows OS and Windows as a Service


Wipe and Replace to Update Your Devices

With the release of Windows 10, many IronKey Windows To Go customers are upgrading their Workspace devices to the latest Windows 10 Enterprise build.  The reasons why?  Many are doing it for their main Windows To Go devices— like me— and many others are doing it for the ability to do trial deployments of Windows To Go in their offices. Here at IronKey, we wipe and replace to update our devices. To do this, back up your Windows data and any information you require to rebuild your device, replace the Windows OS using either Microsoft’s Windows To Go Creator or IronKey’s Provisioning Tool or Scripts (if you are mass provisioning), and simply recreate. To the best of our knowledge no Microsoft upgrade tools will permit an in-place upgrade of Windows To Go devices from Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 so this is the best option.


Windows as a Service: When in-place upgrades may be important for Windows To Go

As Microsoft moves to a Windows as a Service model, they’ve introduced new update rings – Current Branch, Current Branch for Business (CBB), and the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB). I won’t go in to what license model allows you access to which path, but instead focus on the philosophy. Microsoft’s intention of a single Windows as a Service model with on-going updates is to build an OS ecosystem in which most customers will, by following along, be on an identical or very recent version of Windows 10. So here’s the advantage.  If you have a Windows app or application, compatibility will be improved because a majority of PCs (WTG, desktops and laptops) will be on a recent Windows 10 version. This is a huge benefit to development and should alleviate a major headache for the deployment of apps and applications as you can expect a much more homogenous set of OS versions in the field.


The Challenges of Windows as a Service

As with anything new, there are challenges. The first is deciding on which branch is right for you and/or your organization. The Current Branch is the one consumers will use and is available for Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education W10 editions. In this branch you get all the updates through Windows Update and receive all security and feature updates. The next ring out is Current Branch for Business (CBB) which allows for organizations on Pro, Enterprise or Education Editions to (1) delay feature update until testing is completed, and (2) use a wider variety of delivery options (adding Windows Update for Business and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)). The delay allows for testing, and includes a bit of a stick that Microsoft will stop support if you delay too long and do not update Windows. Mary Jo Foley notes in an article that “Business customers on the Current Business Branch are going to have 12 months before they are required to deploy fixes and new features,” so Microsoft is providing a fair amount of lag time before nagging customers.  Long-term Servicing Branch (LTSB) (available to Enterprise Edition only) allows for more stability for a longer time period (think ATM), but may require some IT calculus around decisions to take if there are features that look attractive.  IT must then decide to move to a different update branch, like CBB, or wait for a newer LTSB.


Here is a table that shows the different servicing options, the supported OS editions, and delivery options:



The In-Place Upgrade Dilemma

The catch is that some updates will require not just a patch, but an in-place upgrade! It is unclear what features or functions, and on what cadence, an in-place upgrade will be required. But until Microsoft deploys an updater to work with Windows To Go devices, you may need to hold updates or be prepared to wipe and replace when Microsoft pushes an update that requires an in-place upgrade (something larger than a security patch). For IronKey Windows To Go customers who are leveraging WTG as a secure endpoint—  for example by providing a VDI Citrix or VMWare client on a secure workspace to bypass potential host PC malware issues— this may not be a big issue. In these cases minimal OS functionality may be required, or a very locked down OS is sufficient and IT does not expect to adopt many new Windows 10 features. On the other side, for organizations leveraging Windows To Go for broader OS deployments (like IronKey!) where many of us are interested in the latest OS features for testing, security and convenience; any time an in-place upgrade is required, we will need to recreate our Windows image and wipe and replace our devices.

And there is the dilemma:  As we wait for Microsoft to update their tools we’ll be in a pinch whenever an in-place update of the OS is required for new functionality.

We’re looking at some other options on how to do this— PowerShell scripts is one thing we’re investigating— so we’ll keep you informed as we learn new information from Microsoft and any insights our team discovers.



Microsoft Licensing for Windows To Go – You Can Deploy It Now!



In my last blog post Ready for Windows 10? IronKey Windows To Go is Windows 10 Ready, I mentioned that I would cover Windows To Go licensing.  In this blog post, I’ll review three key points that I often cover for our customers when asked about Microsoft Licensing.

The key takeaway is that if you have a Volume License, you probably are already able to deploy Windows To Go today.  Now lets’ review those three key points: 


1.   Windows To Go is a “benefit” of Software Assurance

When you purchase a Microsoft Volume License, which most companies do for the cost savings over time, you either receive Software Assurance by default with all Enterprise Agreements (EA) or may purchase it as an addition. What I’ve learned after many conversations is that most SMBs and Enterprises already have a Volume License and more often than not have Software Assurance associated with it.

If you fall in to this category, then you’re all set. You can use the Windows To Go Creator included with your Enterprise Windows 10 or Windows 8 OS, or take advantage of IronKey’s mass provisioning tool or scripting capabilities for provisioning many devices.


2.   Not sure if you have a Volume License? It is easy to check.

You may be part of a company where you do not purchase your Microsoft licenses so here is what you can do. The first stop is to just check the operating system on your current PC by going to Control Panel, System and Security, and looking at the System details. If you have Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows Vista Enterprise your company probably has an EA and therefore Software Assurance so you can go ahead and create IronKey Windows To Go devices today.

If you have other OS types like Pro, Professional, Ultimate or Business you may have a Volume License that allows it but you’ll want to ask. Your first stop is to ask your IT folks if they know, and if not, you can always track back to your reseller and ask for your companies Microsoft Licensing Agreement which will include what you need to know.


3.   Did anything change in Windows 10?

In terms of Windows To Go as a benefit of Software Assurance (and EAs)—  no change. The change that is coming with Windows 10 and Enterprise agreements is that Microsoft is making a new selection of features available only to purchasers of EAs and so I expect that we’ll see more people purchasing it over time. Some of the new Enterprise features will be fairly desirable—such as Long Term Servicing Branch will allow some PCs to remain on a stable OS for long periods of time (think kiosk) as is covered in Windows 10 for Enterprise blog post by Jim Alkove. Additionally there are a lot of new benefits to Software Assurance (as covered well by ZDNet here) such as the inclusion of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) and the of App-V functionality. As you’d expect, more features equal a higher price (making up for all the free Windows 10 upgrades Microsoft is providing to consumers) so we’ll see how it all shakes out.


IronKey’s Windows To Licensing Guide

I made a  WTG licensing reference guide that our team has found useful in addressing the many questions that arise out in the field.  Check out the licensing guide and feel free to email me with any questions you might have or alternatively you can reach out to your local Microsoft reseller for details specific to your situation.


In summary – you’re Windows To Go ready!

You’ve probably have the license you need so there is no reason to not try it out today. We’ve got a large number of customers providing Windows 10 to a portion of their workforce today using IronKey’s Microsoft Certified Windows To Go devices.




Ready for Windows 10? IronKey Windows To Go is Windows 10 Ready


Windows 10 is just around the corner— with Terry Myerson announcing on Blogging Windows that Windows 10 Enterprise will be available to Volume Licensing customers beginning August 1st. The release of Windows 10 appears to be one of the most exciting releases for enterprise customers with a long list of compelling new features for security, update, and management flexibility. There are lots of good posts out there detailing predictions on what will be delivered in Windows 10 Enterprise, but in tandem with end user experience updates like the return of the Start Menu, this is the version of Windows we’ll all standardize on over time.

Windows 10: Go Ahead and Give it a Try!

Windows To Go remains a bright spot and as a key benefit of Software Assurance (and VDA licenses), the momentum will continue. As we announced at Microsoft Ignite, IronKey Windows To Go devices are now fully ready for Windows 10!  So what exactly does that mean?  If you have an IronKey Windows To Go device, you can install Windows 10 now.  Whether you’re testing builds from the Windows Insider Program or waiting for the first releases on August 1, IronKey’s Windows To Go devices can be deployed straightaway. We’re using our IronKey W300 and W500 devices to explore and test Windows 10 functionality for ourselves so feel free to give it a try.


If you’ve purchased our Mass Provisioning Tool and our scriptable Command Line Utility to produce many devices simultaneously, we are currently testing in this environment and will provide more information as we learn more. To date, the only restriction we’re seeing is that you’ll need to build Windows 8.1 devices from a Windows 8.1 PC, and Windows 10 devices from a Windows 10 PC.   From our testing efforts, and as we make use of the Windows DISM for some operations, we are seeing a need for version consistency with the current version of our tools. We’ll continue to investigate in order to make any updates as our testing proceeds. 

In short, IronKey Windows To Go is ready for Windows 10.

Haven’t Experienced Windows To Go? 

For those who haven’t yet experienced Windows To Go and want to give it a try, we’re offering a Windows To Go Intro Kit on our eStore.   Each Windows To Go Intro Kit features a 32GB IronKey Workspace W300 device with a 90-day trial version of Windows 8.1 pre-loaded, a right-angle USB adapter, and an IronKey lanyard for $89.00.  To purchase, visit IronKey eStore.  The kits will soon be available with Windows 10. 

Need to Learn More About Microsoft Licensing?

On an additional note, I’m often asked about licensing Windows for Windows To Go so I will be covering that in my next blog post. Here’s the simple summary— most Volume License holders have Software Assurance so they’re ready to deploy. If you’re not sure, I’ll be covering licensing in detail next month so please check back with us.  


Introducing the Golden IronKey Program

The iconic IronKey flash drive is going GOLD to commemorate more than two million devices sold!

Leading enterprises and government agencies in more than 50 countries turn to IronKey to protect their invaluable data and secure their mobile workspaces.  To celebrate this milestone, we have launched the Golden IronKey Program to thank our largest and most loyal customers and channel champions.

The Golden IronKey drives are our new IronKey Basic S1000 USB 3.0 8GB high-performance, high-security drives encased in our traditional durable aluminum housing with an exclusive gold finish.  And we’ll be giving away 1,000 of these limited edition drives!

How can you get one of these Golden IronKey drives?

IronKey by Imation executives and employees will be giving these limited edition drives to select customers and partners.

IronKey customers can also receive a Golden IronKey by sharing your personal story about how our products are being used in your enterprise.   To go for the gold, all you need to do is answer the questions outlined in our submission criteria; which is really just the basics.  You can find the submission criteria on the Golden IronKey website page or download our submission guidelines.  Once completed, simply email your submission to

It’s rewarding to see customers around the world using IronKey to safeguard their mobile workforce and the data it depends on, no matter where it goes.

We invite you to join in on the conversation with #goldenironkey.


SE Diaries: My Own Use Cases for Windows To Go

Our special guest blogger is Matt Drake, an IronKey sales engineer, who joined the company in 2013. 

As an IronKey™ sales engineer covering Asia Pac, I am always on the road constantly relying on my Windows To Go device. While my corporate laptop is my primary machine, I never leave home without my IronKey Workspace W500 64GB setup. This device allows me to utilize any Windows compatible PC as my corporate desktop. The separation of hardware and software components opens up a lot more flexibility for how people can consume IT.  My IronKey flash drive acts as my second work PC and personal crisis solution.

I have had the misfortune in the last six months with having two significant IT issues; both taking several days to resolve. Despite being a home-based worker who travels regularly (with no IT department at the end of the corridor to leap to my rescue), in both cases, my down time was minimal.

 A few months ago, I fired up my laptop and found it was unable to connect to any network, wired or wireless. So what did I do? I simply grabbed my W500 and booted my “broken” laptop into Windows To Go. Bingo. Everything worked as it should. This had the double advantage of proving the issue was software related, helping speed up the resolution, but more importantly, allowing me to carry on until our support team implemented a solution.

 Then, a few weeks later I had a laptop screen failure. Yes, this was fixed a day and a half later by the hardware vendor’s onsite support, but without my Windows To Go device as a backup, I would have been limited to using my laptop at home with a desktop monitor. Not great if you have to do customer visits. Instead I borrowed my wife’s MacBook and took that to the meeting, booting into my Corporate Windows desktop using my W500.

Fortunately IT failures are not regular events. They do happen, and often at the most inappropriate moments. Having a Windows To Go device in your pocket or brief case can save your bacon. I make sure I use mine fairly frequently so mail does not get too out of sync and Windows updates are not too far behind. I also use a real-time backup service on my primary laptop. The syncing of documents to either a cloud service or corporate file share not only provides a backup, but is also helpful for accessing data across multiple devices.  

Another key use of Workspace devices is to test software. When Microsoft released the Windows 10 Technical Preview, they stressed that it should not be used as a primary device. As a home based worker I have limited additional hardware to test software – no problem. I installed Windows 10 onto an IronKey W300 Windows To Go device. Adding Microsoft Office makes it a useable tool for most of my work, so I can happily explore this exciting new OS, safe in the knowledge my “real” corporate desktop is a quick reboot away.

 This is how I use Windows To Go to help me be more productive. What about you?


The Value of Encryption

With high profile security breaches such as the iCloud hack and the leak of celebrities’ private photographs hitting the headlines, the concern for the security of our own personal information and sensitive data is mounting. Apple’s response to the data breach was to increase the level of security following the incident with the introduction of default encryption on phones, demonstrating the importance of encryption as a safeguard to protect data.

Encryption is simply the translation of data into code, using a defined algorithm, and is considered one of the most effective means of ensuring data security. Access to encrypted files requires a key or password that enables you to decrypt it by restoring it to its original form. Whilst most data transmitted over a network is sent in clear text, by incorporating encryption algorithms, users can protect data and make sure that only the intended recipient can decode and read the information.

Although there are many different types of encryption, they all serve the same purpose: to keep our data protected and secure. Storing any sensitive information is inherently risky, but in order to do this effectively, action must be taken to reduce the risks of inappropriate disclosure.

Given that a large amount of data can be stored on USB’s, smartphones and tablets, there is a real danger that personal information could be compromised should such a device end up in the wrong hands. We recently published research which found that over one third of respondents would look at, or try to open/access a device if they found one , showing that even when mislaid devices are found by conscientious members of the public, the devices may be examined and opened.

The problem is that users want devices that are easy to manage, hassle-free and allow them to go about their lives securely. Measures such as optional encryption do not fit into this lifestyle. Users will not hunt down new security features, either because they don’t know they need them, or perhaps think they already have them.

Whether it is personal or corporate data, security needs to be a necessity, and users should be provided with everything they need to protect their intellectual property.

For businesses, encryption can be a simple and effective means to protect sensitive information. Being able to manage and track the encrypted data, knowing who has accessed it, from what location and on what devices that information resides is also essential.

A Windows To Go device is a securely encrypted, IT-managed USB drive that gives businesses control over what happens to sensitive data, and is easy to use. It contains a fully functional corporate Windows desktop. Employees insert the Microsoft certified USB drives into their home computers, hot desks, or tablets that feature USB ports, and they receive a secure desktop and secure access to all applications and data they use in an office setting.

Unlike a virtualised or online remote access solution, the portable workspace offers full host computer isolation, meaning documents cannot be saved to the host machine but are saved to the USB drive, which can be locked down and remote wiped if required, and all data will remain secure without the threat of a potential data breach.

Encryption is a valuable and essential tool for securing your data. Don’t give users the opportunity to be unprotected; security needs to be a default – not an option.


OMG – eWaste?!


The guys in engineering hired some contractors in India and were ready to send them a few laptops :“Stop!” I said.

“Contractors are a perfect use case for Windows to Go. Load up everything your contractors need on a secure PC-on-a-Stick™, including our IT-secured OS, applications, data, and VPN,  and then just mail them the devices – simple and quick. They can run from any computer they want. When they are done, you can remotely disable the device in case they “forget” to return them.”

“Naw, we’ve got a couple of older laptops sitting around and that’s the way we’ve always done it,” replied our head engineer.

“Well, do you what you want but remember I recommended that you switch to this cool, new technology.” I warned.

Two weeks later I checked with the guys and the computers were still hung up in customs. They had shipped them together and thought the total value had crossed some threshold that required more paperwork.

Another week passed and what do you know, the engineers were in my office.

One of the engineers asked, “can you put together a couple of WTG drives for us?”

“Sure can, will just take a few minutes. What happened to the laptops stuck in customs?” I inquired.

They stared at their shoes and looked a bit sheepish. Finally, one spoke up.

“Well, India has instituted a new regulation and they considered those laptops eWaste so they sent them both back to us”.

“E-Waste?!”  I laughed out loud. “So now you want to take my advice and send your contractors WTG devices – glad to see you have smartened up. And by the way, when those older “e-Waste” laptops get back here, they’ll run way faster with your WTG devices so don’t even think about asking for replacements. WTG adds years to a computer’s useful lifetime.” I said matter-of-factly.  E-Waste – ha!


The Problem With BYOD (Computers)

Sure, everybody is excited about BYOD. You can use your personal phone to make business calls and read your corporate email. But the real cost savings for BYOD is “bring your own computer- BYOC”. There is no need to purchase, maintain, and upgrade computers; we just let the employees do that.

But wait; there are two BIG issues with Bring Your Own Computer.  The first is an IT issue. The IT team has to install applications, security tools, and management software onto each employee’s laptop. That means IT has to support a range of computer types (including Macs) and OS versions, and deal with incompatible applications running on the employee’s personal device.

The second issue is all about end-user satisfaction. I can hear the screaming now.  “What do you mean you are going to install monitoring software, file scanning, corporate applications, and Internet proxies on MY PERSONAL COMPUTER??   How much space is that going to take? Does this mean Corporate can see my personal files?” My users will rebel.

Good news for IT and the end user –  both of these issues can be easily addressed with Windows To Go.  Let them use their personal hardware – Macs, PC laptops, tablets – but have them run their corporate workspace from an IronKey ”PC-on-a-Stick”  Windows To Go USB flash drive. They run IT’s corporate Windows image with locked-down security controls and policies, applications, and data, but IT never touches their personal hard drive. Complete isolation between work and personal environments!

If you want happy employees, let them use their personal PC, but have them use an IronKey Windows To Go drive and don’t touch their personal system.  This is truly win-win. IT saves a boatload of money and users have a portable corporate workspace they can plug into their personal laptop, a home computer, or a computer they borrow at work.  When was the last time you rolled out a major cost savings initiative and got happy users at the same time! BYOC – bring it on!