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Field Test- The ioSafe Rugged Portable Hard Drive

Sep 20

In Computer Technology, Equipment, Field Test, Videos at 7:19am

Hey guys, Drew here.  ioSafe recently approached us about testing out a a couple of their Ultra-Rugged Portrable Hard Drives, so we thought we’d give them a bit of a workout…

These guys boast some pretty impressive stats (see their site for the full scoop):

  • crush resistant to 2,500/5,000 lbs. (depending on model)
  • fully suspended to withstand drops of 10 ft.
  • waterproof to 10 ft., in fresh or salt water, for up to 3 days

If you search around a bit, you’ll find videos of people showering with them, handing a drive and a hammer to a toddler, and even shooting one with a shotgun…all of which it survived.

We can only hope that our drives won’t ever have to deal with that, but we definitely run our drives through the mill more than most.  Already this year, we’ve logged about 150,000 miles on Delta alone, and between Joe and I, we usually have about 6TB of drives with us.

For several years, we were using a bunch of LaCie Rugged’s, but found that the firewire ports were prone to burnout, and we’ve had several crash on us over time (as can and will likely happen with any drive).  The thought of them being “rugged” was appealing, but they didn’t really live up to their name, and felt like we always had to baby them.

Enter the “Ultra” Rugged drives from ioSafe.  We’ve been trekking around the world with six of these guys (1TB units), and after 5 months of abuse, I think we can give them a solid thumbs up.  We’ve happily ditched our LaCie’s, made these ioSafe drives our primary on-the-road storage, and so far, it’s been smooth sailing.

Here’s what we like about them:

– Right out of the box, they come with one year of data recovery service (up to $5,000), which starts as soon as you enter an activation code on their site.  You also have the opportunity to upgrade that to three or five years.  That’s some peace of mind, before you even take the drive into the field.

– The build is impressive.  They’re definitely heavier than our old drives, but the all-metal construction is solid, and we don’t feel the need to be extremely delicate with them, as we do with other drives (as clearly seen in the video up top).

Note from Joe….. Drew and Cali had a great time messing with this drive. I kept coming up with cheeseball blog titles like “Taking a Drive for a Drive,”or other nonsense, but they wisely overruled me. And, at the end of the video, that’s not me screaming. It’s my crazy uncle who does our archiving. More tk…

Gary Arndt says:

on September 20, 2012 at 8:03 am

I’ve been using the same 2 300gb Western Digital Passport hard drives since 2008. They are not ruggedized and I have taken them to all 7 continents and 100 countries around the world.

So long as you don’t do anything crazy with your drives, a normal hard drive will usually handle most conditions just fine.

Andor says:

on September 20, 2012 at 8:31 am

Wow, looks _really_ rugged!

Keith Winsor says:

on September 20, 2012 at 9:02 am

We have been using Lacie , western digital and Seagatefor years. With out the kid gloves treatment
they have all been problematic . The last one got bumped and fell less than a foot to its death.
I’ll be trying these! Thanks for the review!

James says:

on September 20, 2012 at 9:08 am

Funny – I have a digital passport in my pocket right now (cargo pants) that I carry around with me as well. And no – I have no connection to any of these biz. If the ioSafe is priced right I’d check it out.

Jeff Bartlett says:

on September 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

I agree with Gary Arndt – I have a box full of Western Digital harddrives that have been brutalized on bike tours through South America. I have never had a – audible sound of knocking on wood – failure.

The key is just to keep it in a case and pack it smartly. There is little sense in having a Harddrive that is tougher then your computer. Just treat them the same!

Tomek says:

on September 20, 2012 at 10:09 am

Does this really belongs to Joe’s blog?

Pat McCuen says:

on September 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Giving Joe a hard drive to test sounds like giving a suitcase to a gorilla… wait American Tourister already did that commercial…

Paul Papanek says:

on September 22, 2012 at 8:38 am

Wait! You have drive-through car washes in NY??

Mike Neale says:

on September 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Great Team effort,…well done!

Michael Rosenbaum says:

on September 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I am a photographer and I have been using Olixir’s DataVault 3DX for years and it has survived many drops in the field. They have a 3 year warranty so I feel safe taking it almost anywhere.

David Cooper says:

on September 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Love it, but I wish it was a 7200rpm drive for video.

Richard Kimbrough says:

on September 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I had a brand new Seagate USB 3.0 drive that I took to Alaska with me. Babied it the whole way, and when I got home it told me I needed to format it, along with other errors. It did come back to life a bit but luckily I had brought a second drive along so didn’t lose anything. It makes these look really tempting.

Joe Reitz says:

on October 11, 2012 at 8:39 am

I agree with the above- makes little sense to have a ruggedized drive without a ruggedized laptop.

What I’m more concerned with is getting affordable *AND* fast storage in an external RAID 5.

^nerd alert

Jay Brousseau says:

on September 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

I have several LaCie Rugged drives (triples) and one by one they are dying like clockwork (never at a convenient time, but all have died at the studio and not on the road thankfully). Another one died yesterday and I had to open it up and stick the drive into a ‘toaster dock’. 3 down, 2 to go. They apparently overheat at the same (2mm round melt) exact spot on the internal drive connector. It’s a deect in design or a bad batch of those connectors. They’re cute, but not rugged at all. Very unhappy, will try the IO.

Jay Brousseau says:

on September 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

Er, DEFECT, not ‘deect’.

Sarry Norton says:

on December 4, 2013 at 3:43 am

The ioSafe Rugged Portable stood up to every potentially damaging test we subjected it to with no errors whatsoever, and it’s acceptably fast when plugged into a USB 3.0 port. These key factors are what make it worth the premium over other less impressively featured external hard drives.

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