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Verdict: Very quick and effective secure data keeper. Pros: Non intrusive, huge amount of flexibility, ... Smartphone Reviews forum

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    stmcgill's Avatar
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    Review: Ascendo DataVault

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    Verdict: Very quick and effective secure data keeper.
    Pros: Non intrusive, huge amount of flexibility, quick and simple to use
    Cons: Hardware delete key does not work- menu option used
    URL: www.ascendo-inc.com
    Price: $29.95
    Overall rating: 4/5

    I recently waxed lyrical about Ascendo Money and quoted it as possibly the best mobile application I had ever used. Ascendo asked me to review their DataVault product as well, and I happily took up the challenge. To give you some background, I never write positive reviews for the sake of it and am way passed the feeling of gratitude for receiving a free registration code- in the past few years I have probably upset more software developers than I care to recall, so here is my no holds barred review of Ascendo DataVault .

    First Impressions

    Installation is simple on the desktop- just double click the install file and away you go. I had some issues installing the BlackBerry component though and had to resort to downloading the OTA version. It may well be my lack of knowledge, which is severely lacking, but I got there after a few minutes.

    Ascendo DataVault shares many similarities with Ascendo Money which is a bonus. The clean layout is especially useful for long lists of data and the customisation options are various and diverse which allows for the user to set up the program in the exact way they are used to working. If you happen to have a lot of memos or notes from third party applications, many are supported, that require importing I would suggest you do so on the desktop part. Putting all of the notes in the correct category is fairly easy to do on the BlackBerry itself, but will obviously be slower than on a full sized keyboard. Third party applications supported include Cryptmagic, MiniSafe, SplashID, Illium EWallet, CodeWallet Pro, FlexWallet, Handy Safe, Spb Wallet, IE, Firefox, Roboform and several others.



    In Use

    The application works in a similar manner to the standard Memo application that is built in to BlackBerry devices. This is a good thing because it is incredibly efficient when searching for specific information from within hundred’s of notes, but it adds some features that make it substantially more flexible. Simply type in a couple of letters and all relevant entries are listed, regardless of which category they are in, and this is one feature I use every hour of each day.

    The built in memo pad is a classic example of a simple making complexity feel natural, and Ascendo DataVault has kept the crucial parts of this feature, but added the following-

    Password protection: Generate Strong Passwords using options for Length, Uppercase, Lowercase, Numbers, Punctuation Marks & Spaces. Choose a Master Password Hint. Set optional password for unmasking fields. (Protect your data with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the official recommendation of the National Institute of Standards & Technology.)
    Customisation: Select Font Family, Font Size & Font Style for screen text. Customize Screen Colors and choose from 10 Skins.
    Display information as Tree View or List View.
    Expand & Collapse Tree levels individually or all at once.
    Set default Tree display to Expanded, Collapsed or Last position.
    Navigate intuitively using "Roll & Scroll" TM allowing you to scroll down through Items and across fields.
    Set number of fields to display in List View. Anchor Item names when scrolling vertically.
    And the list goes on... and on... and on.

    It looks simple when you first use the application, but a quick look below the surface brings forth a huge range of options that are almost endless. Data is important to me and so is the way it is presented. I am a visual person and tend to grasp information quicker if it is laid out in a format that my brain can cope with, and DataVault gives me those options. It also gives me a chance to tweak every aspect which I sadly also enjoy...

    There are many other small features built in to Ascendo DataVault that together make up a tool which can be used to bring a varied mix of data one space. This approach can speed up mobile use more than any other and if the same information is required regularly throughout the day it can be a huge time saver.

    For ease of use, it may not always be welcome to have all of your information in one application, but Ascendo DataVault gets around that without being too intrusive. I still feel like I have not scratched the surface of DataVault, but will continue to delve deeper to see what lies beneath.



    Conclusion

    At this time I am just about as impressed with Ascendo DataVault as I am with Ascendo Money. It is a well crafted application and one that has worked without issue so far. Synchronisation occurs in the blink of an eye via the Desktop Manager and I now have a secure space for my most important and useful data. It pains me when I cannot find fault, but apart from a few minor tweaks that I would like to see this is a first rate application!
    Shaun McGill
    www.pda-247.com
    Blackberry, Symbian, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android etc. etc.
    PIN: 2104EBA8

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    Having pretty pictures and such is all well and good but for a secure application, I think it's important to know how safe it is. What keylength is it using? Does it wipe memory after closing or does it just release it? Those are questions that probably should be asked and or looked into.

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    ma077146's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicklinn View Post
    Having pretty pictures and such is all well and good but for a secure application, I think it's important to know how safe it is. What keylength is it using? Does it wipe memory after closing or does it just release it? Those are questions that probably should be asked and or looked into.
    If you want that type of info you can probably get it from the support team at Ascendo. STMCGILL's point was just a nice product review. I've used Ascendo for years with no problems.

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    From the DataVault description at Ascendo's site-

    Protect your data with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the official recommendation of the National Institute of Standards & Technology. For more information on why AES is the best encryption method currently available, see:
    Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) - Questions and Answers (NIST)
    AES vs. Blowfish: AES Offers US-Approved Alternative
    Rijndael was chosen to be the new AES because it was deemed to be more secure than Blowfish

    Generate Strong Passwords using options for Length, Uppercase, Lowercase, Numbers, Punctuation Marks & Spaces.

    Choose a Master Password Hint.

    Set optional password for unmasking fields.

    Set a Security Time Out to log out automatically after a user defined inactivity delay.

    Enter passwords with Screen Keyboard to fool key-loggers.

    Maintain Activity Log to verify that you are the only person using the application.
    Shaun McGill
    www.pda-247.com
    Blackberry, Symbian, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android etc. etc.
    PIN: 2104EBA8

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    stmcgill,

    Thanks I guess but that didn't answer any of my questions and it seems all but impossible to get real technical details from their web site. I really don't expect you to devote your article to things like this but 'is it secure' should at least come up during the review. Doing an article on a security device without talking about security is a bit like doing a restaurant review without talking about the food.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicklinn View Post
    stmcgill,

    Thanks I guess but that didn't answer any of my questions and it seems all but impossible to get real technical details from their web site. I really don't expect you to devote your article to things like this but 'is it secure' should at least come up during the review. Doing an article on a security device without talking about security is a bit like doing a restaurant review without talking about the food.
    As another stacker noted already... it is very secure -

    I've used it for many months now with no issues at all and it is now performing equally well on my Bold...

    You may generate you own password length and strength, so it that regard, it's really up to you how secure your data then becomes on the device. That same password is required on the desktop application as well, as info


    ------------
    ~ jscott
    iPhone 3G & BOLD



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    ~via BB (wap.pinstack.com)~
    Ive been a loyal happy customer of CryptMagic for blackberry w/ desktop synch. However, this looks comparable....

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    nicklinn's Avatar
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    "As another stacker noted already... it is very secure"

    With all due respect, something that leaves the decryption key on the same device is the encrypted data is inherently insecure regardless of the password. Granted most people myself included don't need very good security, just enough to safeguard my data against a savvy person with a few hundred dollars of equipment, ie the same person who can get around the device's security. All the encryption in the world won't help if the memory that the app caches the unencrypted data to when it's running is simply released and left readable in a memory dump of the device.

    Okay it's pretty clear you guys don't _really_ care about security, and that is fine and certainly your prerogative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by guruleenyc View Post
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    Ive been a loyal happy customer of CryptMagic for blackberry w/ desktop synch. However, this looks comparable....
    The Cryptmagic guys may well have gone out of business now, sadly. Look at their forum. People complaining they no respond, even to requests for new reg codes for new pins. I have anew Bold and need to find an alternative program now, sadly.


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    I switched to DataVault. Worth contacting them about the price you can as a Cryptmagic user. See bottom of their
    description page.
    http://www.ascendo-inc.com/blackberr...d-manager.html

    Cryptmagic data exported to CSV went seamlessly into DataValt, catagories and all, which was sweet.


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    Smile Auto login to accounts?

    I have been using Datavault and love it. But can you tell me if I auto login to my accounts thru my Pearl? I upgraded to the new version of DataVault because it stated that it could be done. Do you know how?

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