Apricorn Aegis Fortress L3 Review

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The Bottom Line

Apricorn’s Aegis Fortress L3 has a sky-high cost per gigabyte of storage, but it’s electronically and (pretty much) physically unbreakable. If you’re looking for the ultimate in security in a portable drive, it’s the Fort Knox of SSDs.


  • Extreme level of security (PIN entry plus hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption)
  • Ruggedized construction
  • Decent performance.
  • Good-looking and easily portable.
  • Comes with USB Type-A and Type-C cables.


  • Very Expensive

The Aegis Fortress L3 ($359 for the 512GB SSD version tested) is the latest addition to the extensive line of secure external storage devices from Apricorn, and when the company named it Fortress, it wasn’t kidding. It combines secure PIN access and AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption, all enclosed in a handsome, tamper-proof case made of milled aluminum. Even if a villain managed to extract the drive from the case, your information would remain unbreakably encrypted. And even if you were forced to use the drive in a dust storm or cloudburst, the keypad’s Ingress Protection rating of IP66 would make that a nonissue. Measured by cost per gigabyte, the Aegis is wildly expensive. But measured by peace of mind, it’s priceless.

Portable for the Paranoid

Does all this security matter? More and more, the answer is an emphatic yes. Obviously, data protection is important if you’re working in an environment in which the law (and common sense) requires you to secure customers’ or users’ personal info: If you’re a teacher, a healthcare worker, a federal employee, an HR staffer, or someone subject to GDPR or similar requirements, security is not just sensible, it’s mandatory. If you’re not bound by such rules but still transport confidential or proprietary company information, or just have your personal passwords or bank account numbers stored on your drive, it pays to be security-conscious.

Besides, external drives are small and light (the Fortress SSD weighs a pound and measures 0.9 by 4.75 by 3 inches); they’re easily lost or stolen. If your Aegis drive should go missing, you can relax—no one is getting at your data. (And of course, you have a backup, right? Right?!)

Beyond Tough Enough

The Aegis Fortress L3 isn’t bombproof and you wouldn’t want to drop it into a lake, but other than that, it’s pretty rugged, and the fact that it’s a solid-state drive (the Fortress L3 family spans 500GB to 5TB hard drives and 512GB to 16TB SSDs, the last costing a breathtaking $9,999) means it’s further resistant to shocks. The drive’s FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certification covers not only the data encryption but physical access—it’s built to forestall any tampering with the electronics and enclosure. The membrane keypad is well protected from dust or liquid; the drive enclosure is sealed with security fasteners; and the whole thing is secured with epoxy.

But security is where the Aegis really shines. The AES 256-bit hardware encryption means it would take multiple supercomputers working for thousands of years to break into your data. And the fact that the encryption is baked into the drive itself, rather than residing in software, both adds security and minimizes any performance hit.

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