For a while now, Kingston has been rolling out their urDrive file management application and it’s been met with mixed reactions from its users. Kingston has recently updated urDrive and brings with it a whole bevy of features. We have the latest iteration of this application and we’re testing it out to see if this free software does more than take up disk space on your brand new flash drive.
Kingston should be no stranger to anyone using a computer. They have cemented their name in the memory and portable storage market as a very reliable brand and they continue to offer solid products for everyone. Locally, Kingston’s flash drives and memory cards are arguably the most commonly available products in any tech store here. That said, many of those who purchase their flash drive sometime ignore the included software in their flash drives.
Kingston’s urDrive application has evolved from a simple file management solution to something that provides security, privacy, file management and more. Today we have a DataTraveler 109 8GB model, preloaded with the latest urDrive application, version 184.108.40.206. We’ll cover its functions and gauge how useful we find this little application based on our tastes.
urDrive starts up and presents the user with a simple and clean interface. First thing that grabs our attention are the shortcut icons that adorn the application. These shortcuts are all web services and requires and internet connection to use. At the upper-right we have links to let us create and login to the urDriveAppZone. Registration is free. Just below this is an integrated search field with search options for the files within the drive, Kingston’s AppZone or the Internet via Yahoo. The bottom-left part of the window has the drive capacity meter which tells us how much space we’ve used and have left. Above this we have a Favorites button which when clicked, allows the user to drag any file into it for quick access (files are copied to the drive automatically.) Right of which is a banner that links us to the Kingston Blog. This little ad can be closed. Finally, on the bottom-right are buttons for navigating through your files and rightmost of which are links to Kingston’s news feed, the option settings and Help menu.
Going back to the web services provided by Kingston, they actually offer plenty as follows:
- PC Checkup –directs the user to Norton’s PC Checkup software which provides free virus-scanning and security fixes powered by Norton.
- Browse – opens up the Maxthon 3 browser
- Back up – links to vDrive cloud storage service also powered by MaxthonSkyFile
- For Kids – For Kids. By Moms. Yes, that’s their tagline. Links to FoozKids, an educational program for kids with parental monitoring and control features
- Games – presents links to download or play various games like Plants vs. Zombies, Chuzzle and even Battlefield Play4Free
- Store – opens the urDrive’s built in App management and lets the user download straight from Kingston’s selection of apps to extend the USB drive’s functionality
- Facebook – Need
- Youtube – I
- Twitter – Explain?
CLOSER LOOK – urDrive File Manager
Kingston has improved on the initial design of the urDrive’s file management but it still retains its simplicity and user-friendliness. File management features include everything you’ve come to know from the Windows platform. Files are broken down into categories namely My Files, My Photos, My Music and My Videos.
The My Files gives us a holistic view of the files inside our flash drive. A directory tree is on the left side and the file viewer is on the right side with options to toggle in-between List and Thumbnail view. The My Photos features a built-in viewer which has a slideshow function as well as rotate for simple image rotation. The My Music manager has a built-in music player and a playlist manager. The My Videos manager is the most bare of all, featuring nothing special in particular.
Going to the settings menu we have the option to change display language, update the software if and when a new version is available, and finally and option to uninstall urDrive from your drive. Alternatively, one can just delete or format the drive to remove urDrive.
PERFORMANCE AND FUNCTIONALITY
Certainly a drift away from our usual reviews here at Back2Gaming, we still took the time to try out Kingston’s urDrive. We’ll start off by discussing what Kingston intends to establish here: and that’s security. While not everyone might consider data security as a major concern, some people do and are very conscious of their data, especially when using public or unfamiliar computers/laptops. That being said, we’ll look at this application as mainly as such, and factor in its extended features as extras.
So first for performance, right off the bat we’ll have to say that the web shortcuts need a bit of refining and responsiveness has a big room for improvement. We like how Kingston opted to highlight these services first instead of its own but a bit of reordering could be useful to put the most critical into top priority (more on that later.) Focusing on the included software like the integrated file manager, browser and music player, overall impression is pretty good. The software is responsive when handling files contained within the flash drive. The My Photos built-in image viewer is also responsive and transitions fast but occasionally bugs out and doesn’t display the next image especially large ones. We attribute this behavior on thumbnail caching rather than the software itself so can’t really blame Kingston for that. The internal music player is a pretty good idea, too. Though simple, the quality is solid and does its intended purpose without any hitch.
Moving on to functionality, here is what makes this drive shine. What it lacks in refinement and polish it makes up in complete versatility of its functions. Its file management is simple, but it does its job. The Maxthon browser lies completely on the flash drive so no data is stored on the local computer making it a good privacy solution when browsing in public. It would’ve been better option if Kingston included a pre-configured, ready-to-run antivirus solution seeing as majority of virus take advantage of USB autorun capabilities and also ones that infect executables. And speaking of autorun, something that drives down urDrive’s adoption is its inability to run automatically in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Kingston should find a way to let the software run by itself and present itself to the user rather than having the user discover it by themselves. Moving on to the AppZone, the majority of software presented there are PC programs which either install to the local computer or run from the flash drive, either case there are paid and free programs on offer which might appeal to users.
With a loadout of features it all boils down to usability which in turn relies on the scenario. For the average users, Kingston’s urDrive would prove confusing and power users will totally ignore it. Somewhere out there though are people concerned about privacy and these are who I think will benefit the most out of urDrive. Kingston has a promising application in urDrive, though functional it still needs polish and time to mature. It also needs a serious boost in audience adoption by maximizing its exposure and familiarity.
All in all it’s a good software. Its free, links us to more free stuff but its unpolished interface and unintuitive design turns away potential users. Barring that, urDrive impresses with its simplistic approach at file management. If it was multi-platform, that could’ve helped also but sadly, it’s strictly for Windows. For now, urDrive remains strictly a public privacy solution with a bright future. It’s still young and has time to flourish and hopefully it does.