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ioSafe External Hard Drive Review, Is It Disaster Proof?

You may remember a previous post here detailing the creation of an image for an external hard drive designed by ioSafe.  I created the image for SolidWorks who was developing a case study of one of their customers, ioSafe.  ioSafe uses SolidWorks to design, in their words, “disaster proof hardware”.  More specifically, ioSafe designs, manufactures and sells a variety of data storage devices that have some level of water and fire protection.  I was contacted by ioSafe and asked if I’d like to give one of their products a try and write a review for this blog.  I of course jumped at the chance and what you’re reading are the results.

ioSafe sent me their 1 TB solo USB external hard drive.  Opening the box I found a very well packaged unit secured in place using foam cages.  Pulling the unit out of the box I was surprised by its weight and size.  I have a couple of other 500 gig external drives here and they are much lighter and smaller.  It’s not an unreasonable size at 5″W x 7″H x 11″L with a weight of 15 lbs.  I was just expecting something a bit smaller.  As you would expect the drive comes with a power supply, USB cable and instruction booklet.  I made all the necessary connections and the unit fit nicely on the desk next to my monitor.

I powered up my system and the drive was recognized without issue.  Just for reference I’m running Windows Vista 64  as my OS.  The Solo is also Mac compatible but you’ll have to reformat the drive before use with your Mac.  I copied about 100 gigs of data (drag and drop in Windows Explorer) onto the drive.  While the data was copying the blue power lights, visible on the front panel danced around letting me know things were working.  The unit was extremely quiet, if the power lights hadn’t been on I wouldn’t have even known it was working.  I moved some files off the drive and opened a few SolidWorks files from the drive just to be sure everything was OK.  It all worked as expected.  Set up and use were easy and to this point the Solo wasn’t any different than other external drives I’ve used.  What I really wanted to know however was if it could live up to the claims of being disaster proof.  We are about to find out.

The ioSafe Solo housing is built from alloy steel.  It has patented air flow (FloSafe) and water barrier (HydroSafe) technology along with a proprietary fireproof insulation material (DataCast).  According to the specs it can withstand fire with temperatures up to 1550 degrees for 30 minutes and can be submerged in up to 10 feet of water (fresh or salt) for a period of 72 hours.  All of this sounds impressive and reads well on paper but does it really work?  Can this drive be thrown in a fire for 30 minutes, burned until cherry red and then dropped into a bucket of muddy water for an hour and still keep my data safe and accessible?  Only one way to find out!

Overall I’m very impressed with the ioSafe Solo drive.  It stood up to open flame, intense heat, water, mud, dirt, and was even dropped a couple of times.  The housing took a beating but the hard drive inside didn’t even show a scratch.  Most importantly the data remained safe and usable.  I work with customer files everyday and of course back them up routinely.  I’m a small business and because of this off site backups aren’t really possible, my backups are onsite and this makes a product like the Solo very attractive to me.  It offers another layer of data protection for events that  I have very little control over.  If you’re in a similar situation or you’d just like more peace of mind in protecting your data then I’d highly recommend this product.

If you’re a SolidWorks user group member ioSafe is offering you a 20% discount on the product reviewed here.  To take advantage of this offer contact your local SolidWorks user group leader.

If you feel the tests I put the Solo through weren’t severe enough, have a look at these videos.

http://www.geardiary.com/2009/08/04/could-your-hard-drive-survive-this-if-its-an-iosafe-yep/
http://www.macworld.com/article/142801/2009/09/iosafe_solo.html
http://the-gadgeteer.com/2009/09/01/iosafe-solo-usb-hard-drive-with-disaster-protection-review/
http://www.fhm.com/reviews/gadgets/when-tanks-run-over-expensive-gadgets-thats-cool-20091211

 
 
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