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IronKey Workspace with Windows To Go is a PC on a Stick

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A review of the W700 Windows 8.1 .    PC on a stick     from a resellers point of view  by Robert Bradley

The Bring Your Own Device fashion has created problems and solutions, with both employees and bosses bringing in the latest tech into the office environment, creating head-aches for the IT department. This fashion is also reshaping the way employers equip their workforce.

 

IronKey Workspace with Windows To Go is a PC on a Stick, a cost effective alternative to a PC or Laptop complete with a Windows 8.1. 

Whether users always work on the same PC or roam between different PC’s in the office or in their small office home office (SOHO), they can safely boot a full version of Windows 8.1 and all of their applications from any PC certified to run Windows 7.0 or higher.

This is particularly useful and evident in the Channel environment, with EMEA channel managers spending 70% of their time “On the road” to be able to carry a PC on a Stick, it gives a consistent, fully mobile desktop in their pocket, car or case. 

  

Add to this IronKey’s 256-bit AES hardware encryption which combines strong, built-in password protection capabilities and a tough tamper-resistant metal housing to protect, sensitive data and critical applications.

I personally have been caught at airports, forgetting to separate my laptop from my hand luggage, only to be penalised (at Heathrow particularly), having to wait until the security staff deem I have been punished enough. All employees are happier when they are mobile and can work remotely. With PC on a stick, I can take a work device home or to a client and pop it into any PC, in-fact the PC does not even need a hard drive and as the Ironkey is formatted in English it will also work on PC’s operating in a foreign language. 

By simply placing the PC on a Stick into the USB drive, it's completely isolated from the host machine. Now I can take my windows desktop and all applications with me without taking my laptop. Keeping my Ironkey safe is much simpler than carrying laptops. Laptops attract far more attention with a higher probability of theft and damage, so my secure workspace drive will reduce this risk.

Ease of Use

When we were supplied with the unit it had been Pre-loaded with a demo version of Windows 8.1 Enterprise, with a license that is good for 90 days from the time you initialize the OS. This was protected with a pass word.

Unfortunately my office did not supply me with the password, so I found it very frustrating, I put the unit to one side, but it did prompt me to view the demonstration ( more later ). Some weeks later when I was supplied with the password and I approached the unit again.

I found the W700 secure, very portable, easy to use and compatible with any PC running Microsoft Windows 7 or higher and much easier after I was informed of the password.

In-fact I found it very easy, once booted from my USB port, the W700 spent 5 or 10 minutes learning about my hardware, it checked and confirmed my operating system, drivers for my graphics card, printers and other necessary components etc.

I had used a USB 2 port, and I found that the computer was actually running faster, probably because the whole unit (my PC and the W700) were running off the solid state drive, with out any spinning disks etc, I presume that if I had used a USB 3 port, the host PC would be even faster.

It was very simple

Set up the computer to boot from the USB using the IronKey Startup Assistant. The Startup Assistant automatically sets the boot order of compatible host computers so that it will boot first from the USB drive if one is present.   Make sure that the host computer is turned on and the host operating system is up and running.

Insert the W700 into a USB port of the host computer (choose a USB 3.0 port if available).

Open the flash drive using Windows Explorer and launch the IronKey Control Panel application.  Select ‘open folder’ from the autoplay window or use Explorer to open the folder. Click the Settings button.  From the left sidebar, click Tools and then click the Launch Startup Assistant button.

Click Continue.

The Startup Assistant will check the host computer’s registry to verify that the configuration is supported. Click Configure to start the process.

When the configuration process has completed, click Exit.

 

Restart the host computer

A pre-boot screen will appear prompting you for a password. Make sure that if your office has configured the password they tell you. Once the password has been verified, the computer will reboot.  All done.

 

My Thoughts

I feel this will be very well accepted by the corporate world, with the ability to “ set up a corporate image and settings “ on 32 units at one time, utilising either a unit available from Imation or another supplier. You can distribute and manage mobile work environments that mirror your corporate desktop, and ensure employees, partners and contractors are using mobile workspaces created and managed by IT .

 I should really test my Ironkey PC on a stick to destruction.... but I like it so much that I don’t want to push it too far....

It departments would be happy with setting up a hard disk image, with company group polices and company applications. This could be distributed onto multiple Ironkeys if needed and recipients would be much happier with the portability of the product and the high level of security.

A particular feature that I was impressed with was the ability to disable remotely if lost or stolen. Oh...... and of course when a member of staff leaves, either agreeably or otherwise the leaving / exit interview will always have a happy ending. Some of my clients have had disgruntled members of staff and I have needed to change passwords and settings.

Imation Mobile Security (IMS) was created in 2011 when it combined the technology breakthroughs, intellectual property, expertise and thought leadership of three respected industry leaders -- IronKey™, MXI Security™, and ENCRYPTX™ -- and forged them into solutions that secure data, identities and workspaces.

 

IMS has unified this mix of assets under the IronKey by Imation brand.