For those not familiar with my daily profession, I have been in law enforcement for the past 12+ years. One of my normal duties consists of fingerprint comparisons and identification of unknown latent fingerprints (yeah, just like CSI). Given my background and level of training in this field, I was very interested in seeing if the scanning technology used by A-DATA actually worked, or if it was so generic that it offered little in the way of security. I was impressed with my findings.
When first setting up the thumb drive to recognize my fingerprint, I chose my right index finger. I chose it because out of my ten fingers, I have two that have similar patterns. For others who are interested in the science, both of my index fingers are tented arch ridge patterns. The utility to set up the fingerprint gives you ten chances to properly recognize the print; it took only three for the utility to be satisfied that it had a scanned image that could be properly recognized. After this step had been accomplished, I began playing a bit.
I started by using different portions of the proper finger. I still maintained a good area of the central edge of the finger, but I had it rolled slightly to give a totally different contact patch over the scanning platen. As long as I managed to get the middle portion of the finger to roll somewhere over the platen, the utility properly recognized me as an authorized user and gave me access to the drive. I also scanned my finger upside down from the means in which it was captured (same scanning direction but starting with the finger tip instead of the joint) and it allowed me access. My first thought was that it may be too generic and won't offer security.
My next step was to use different fingers to attempt to gain access. Even the other tented arch platen on my left index finger did not pass muster. I noted an access denied symbol on the login screen and the security window disappeared. When attempting to access the information through Windows Explorer, I was denied. This same result occurred when I had my daughter try to scan a finger to gain entry... DENIED!
As with any fingerprint scanning technology, you should make sure that your finger is dry. If it is slightly wet (like after taking a drink from a cold glass with condensation on the outside), the reader will not register that you scanned a finger. This is a common sense step and does not reflect poorly on the capabilities of the device.
For testing of the performance, I dragged out my trusty HD Tach utility and grabbed up a 449MB demo of Prey. I will use HD Tach to measure read and burst rates as well as random access times, and I will use the Prey demo to time the data transfers from the system to the drive and back again. This should help give us a decent look at what a benchmarking utility will show as well as a more "real-world" test.
I have been using a Visiontek 1GB thumb drive for a while now and it has been proven to be a reliable comparison source. The results graphed above show that the A-DATA drive produces better read results, but falls behind a bit during the data transfer tests. When transferring data from your computer to the drive it is pretty close, but it lags behind a good deal when copying data from itself back to your system. I feel that this is likely going to be caused by the security programs that are running in the background. While the performance does not fall back enough not to make this an interesting product choice, it does take a very noticeable hit when moving or copying data to your system.