Let’s be real: Regular travelers need rugged devices. We slam, drop, cram, splash, bang, knock, and generally abuse our possessions when we travel.
Whether intentionally neglectful or unintentionally forgetful, hardware for travelers needs to be robust, resilient and reliable. Our stuff has to be able to take a beating and keep going.
The stakes are even higher when it comes to data protection while traveling. Laptop-toting travelers are especially aware of this need, as one wayward plastic cup of Coke or frosty pool-side mai tai could deliver the digital death to both the laptop and any connected hardware.
Data protection is an essential component of savvy traveling for the digitally diverse. So what product might deliver this essential data protection?
THE PRODUCT: ioSafe Rugged Portable Hard Drive (from $249.99)
THE PROMISE: “Disaster proof hardware”
ioSafe¬†offers complete data protection with their “disaster proof hardware,” with the Go-Anywhere ioSafe Rugged Portable Hard Drive at the center of their portable product offering.
The company promises that the drive has been “designed to withstand the most extreme environments and will keep your data safe – wherever you take it.”¬†Built to “military specifications,” the drive is in a sleek, attractive casing that looks good next to any computer. It’s a solid brick, and features no seams except for the bottom plate.
The version we tested was the 500GB¬†aluminum-encased¬†traditional¬†HDD with FireWire 800. The drive features two FW800 ports, which is smart in case one fails, and¬†has a¬†Kensington¬†theft prevention lock.
The connection ports on the rear have neat rubber plugs that prevent water from seeping into the hard drive, even when the drive is underwater while still connected via cable – say during a flood or accidental pool dunk.
The drive also comes in a 1TB version, with USB 3.0 and can be had with a solid-state (no moving parts) drive and a titanium shell that drastically improves resilience to accidental data loss.
THE FEATURES: “Resistant to everything”
The disaster-proof specs offered by ioSafe:
- Crush protection:¬†Full Metal JacketTM¬†Technology: CNC-machined from a billet of solid metal, the aluminum enclosure is crush-resistant to 2,500 lbs. and the titanium alloy enclosure to 5,000 lbs
- Immersion protection:¬†HydroSafeTM¬†Technology protects data during immersion up to 3 days in freshwater or saltwater to a depth of 10′ (aluminum version) or 30′ (SSD or titanium version) per IP68. The ioSafe Rugged Portable continues to protect data even when connected via USB.
- Extreme environment protection:¬†EnviroSafeTM¬†Technology protects data from continuous exposure to UV, blowing sand, blowing dust, rain, salt fog, icing or freezing rain for up 24 hours per MIL-STD-810G Methods 505.4, 506.4, 509.4 and 510.
- Altitude protection:¬†AltiSafeTM¬†Technology enables operation at altitudes up to 15,000 ft. (aluminum version) and 30,000 feet (SSD and titanium versions) per MIL-STD-810G Method 500.4.
- Chemical protection:¬†ChemSafeTM¬†Technology protects data during periods of immersion in diesel fuel, oils, hydraulic fluids and aircraft fuels to a 12′ depth for 1 hour per MIL-STD-810G Method 504.
- Shock protection:¬†Full suspension in all six axes of motion. Optimized for data loss protection from drop and shock of 20′ drops (SSD version) and 10′ drops (250-750 GB HDD versions, 1TB HDD requires optional drive skin) per MIL-STD-810G Method 516.5.
THE KILLER FEATURE: “$5,000 Data Recovery Service”
Should the user absolutely obliterate the drive beyond said specs, or if the drive fails even within the company’s specified protection specifications, the company offers both a No-Hassle guarantee to replace any drive that fails under warranty and a 1-year, one-time, any-reason Data Recovery Service. The DRS covers “accidental deletion, formats, corruption or disasters” alongside all shipping, replacement costs and $5000 of third-party forensic recovery as required.
This DRS and No-Hassle guarantee alone is enough to make me trust that this company truly stands behind their product. Of course, until disaster strikes, it’s hard to determine how good the service is.
Nonetheless, this sort of guarantee is admirable and should be copied by any media storage company that really wants customers to feel at ease with placing important data on external drives.
THE TRUTH: “Just don’t freeze it”
Of course, getting my hands on an “indestructible” hard drive brought out the joyous glee of¬†adolescence. I dropped it repeatedly from concrete, soaked it overnight, rode over it on my bike, shook it, banged it and generally abused it.
After each post-abuse plug-in, the data was still there. Until I froze it, as some have done before in this video, to see what would happen under truly extreme conditions.
I froze the hard drive overnight and then tried to use it once while still frozen and another 24 hours later after it thawed. The drive took electricity each time, but did not mount. After opening the enclosure, I discovered that water had indeed penetrated the housing. I aired it out, as the drive is sealed inside a waterproof membrane.
Alas, it still did not work. This may be an issue for the few hearty Himalayan hikers out there, but is unlikely to affect the rest of us.¬†Brett from ioSafe assures me that this is a very rare failure – even for freezing – and would be covered both by the replacement¬†guarantee¬†and the Data Recovery Service.
Nonetheless, this drive is an ideal companion for any traveler that carries precious data, such as back-ups or sensitive data, or for travelers seeking a rugged, relatively disaster-proof hard drive to protect data physically rather than in the cloud.
THE TCRITIC TAKE: “Stress-free”
I enjoyed the look of the drive, and appreciated the peace-of-mind that comes with the Worry-Free¬†guarantee¬† Customers can also purchase an additional 2 years of Data Recovery Service for a reasonable fee, extending the stress-free window of complete data protection.
I need a drive that survives my daily onslaught of abuse, especially when I am writing and editing video from the road. For anyone who is a regular traveler, or prefers to use only the most rugged devices that can make it through the everyday paces of a mobile life, the ioSafe Rugged Portable is a fine and trustworthy companion.
THE RATING: “4 stars overall out of 5″
Overall, the ioSafe gets FOUR out of FIVE stars. It’s a gorgeous portable product that (mostly) lives up to the “disaster proof” promise.
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