It's been touted as the most resilient piece of hardware since metal-coated sliced bread from its crowd-stopping appearance at CES with its waterproof, crush-resistant, shock-proof and chemical-safe build, so we decided to put it to the test. We beat it, dropped it - even ran it over with a car - but did it survive?
The ioSafe Rugged Portable looks anything but rugged from the outside, with a brushed metal finish in titanium or aluminium that mimics the look and feel of a MacBook, with a weighty feel of reliability underhand. This clean body is sealed tight with only a USB 3.0 cable connector and a Kensington security lock slot - though new models only recently released in Australia now come with an added FireWire 800 port.
The drive comes with Genie9 Timeline Pro, valued at roughly $60, which is a backup service with high-security AES encryption. For Apple users, TimeMachine is supported by the device.
It comes in hard disk drive (HDD) and solid state drive (SSD) version, ranging up to 1TB capacities. For HDD, the 250GB starts at $329, moving up to $429 for 500GB, $529 for 750GB and $629 for 1TB. The drives run at either 5400 rpm or 7200 rpm. On the SSD side, capacities cap out at 512GB. There's also a choice of enclosures, either being aluminium or the heavier (but tougher) titanium enclosure.
We tested an aluminium HDD version, sitting at 5,400 RPM with 750GB of storage. The interesting part of these HDDs over SSDs is that there are more sensitive moving parts that could break from dinks and drops than in a solid state drive which is more... well, solid. So we put the 'full suspension drive' system that is supposed to protect the unit from drops across six axis to the test to see if this drive really meets the hype.
Out of the box, the brick-like unit weighs in around a pound (so less than a kilo), and comes with a thick USB 3.0 cable and a separate cable for low-power USB 2.0 slots. The USB 3.0 cable will suck power from a USB 3.0 port, but USB 2.0 ports may need an extra leg to juice the drive, so the separate specially-made cable has a double-USB side that takes up two USB ports - one for data, one for power.
First off, they say it's waterproof in freezing water at ten feet depths for up to 72 hours. So we left the unit out in a bucket through the day and overnight to catch a few of the elements with the socket exposed and all. True to its word, we dried it off and plugged it in and it ran just fine.
They also claim to be impervious to 10 feet drops (or 20 if you've got an SSD version). A few drops from chest height and on the odd angle or two gave the casing a few scuff marks and made a few little marks on the concrete, but it still ran. Rather than a drop we threw it against a wall to see if sudden angled jostles would whack the needle out of place. Admittedly it wasn't a baseball pitch, but I hardly want to rip up the bricks of my home. In any case, it lived on.
Next up was the 'full metal jacket' test against its aluminium chassis. The unit has an advertised crush resistance of up to 2,500 pounds for the aluminium unit (double that for the titanium unit), and since we don't have much industrial equipment lying around to test these kinds of things, we just ran it over a few times.
And it came out pretty much unscathed, apart from a few black tyre scuffs. We drove over it and drove onto it to see if it'd live for a few minutes that way, and it did. Note: It's everything-proof except fire-proof - you'll need to buy the ioSafe Solo Pro if you're that keen on data protection. The moral of this story is that you could probably drop this out of your window while driving, run it over and have your data still breathing. And even if it isn't, you're covered - no questions asked. Read on.
The ioSafe Rugged Portable can be seen as a premium portable hard drives in a few respects. You'll be spending an arm and a leg for peace of mind that almost no matter what, your data will be safe. They throw in one no-questions-asked data recovery (so you can throw it off a bridge, break it and have your data fetched) of up to $2500 for the HDD version or $5000 for the SSD version in forensic data recovery services. The bundled backup software and compatibility with open source and Apple backup programs means you can save that same data away safe on your computer. There's also the one year warranty that's expandable to up to five years.
While a platter spinning at 5,400 RPM isn't the quickest of the lot, the USB 3.0 port allows for lightning fast speeds if you've got the supporting hardware, i.e. in-built USB 3.0 ports on a notebook or computer with a fast SSD for a hard drive. If you're a Mac user, you'll have to reformat the drive to run it.
Read speeds on USB 2.0 aren't anything to cheer over at around 30MB/s, and a little closer to 20MB/s for write speeds. On the USB 3.0 side, read speeds pushed over the 100MB/s mark when sending data between another HDD, with write speeds hitting from high-70s to low 80MB/s. It's a high performer if you've got the right rig, but most of the cost comes from the super rugged build.
If you're hazard prone or work with data outdoors (or out on the job), then this drive will suit you and then some. If not, there are cheaper portables on the market that provide adequate protection from bumps and knocks without being too overzealous on the protection. Either way, the ioSafe Rugged Portable doesn't disappoint.