ioSafe delivers a fireproof and waterproof external drive. (October 3rd, 2010)
ioSafe is rare among storage makers in its thriving on disaster proof hardware; its drives may be the only things left after a fire or a flood. We're reviewing the 1TB SoloPRO, which packs eSATA and USB 3.0 into the ruggedized design, to see if its everyday use is as good as in extreme conditions.
Product Manufacturer: ioSafe
Price: $250 (1TB)
- Fireproofing and waterproofing.
- Extended warranty and data recovery.
- eSATA and USB 3.0.
- Smooth performance on USB 2.0.
- Linux and Mac support.
- Very heavy.
- Expensive versus unprotected drives.
Weighing in at a surprising 15 pounds, the SoloPRO can be described as nothing less than industrial. There's good reason for this, however. The design of the SoloPRO allows it to sustain temperatures of up to 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or submersion in 10 feet of water for up to three days. The SoloPRO provides these disaster proof benefits while still featuring active airflow for cooling with a feature dubbed FloSafe. The FloSafe vents on the SoloPRO are designed to restrict airflow when the drive reaches "destructive levels of heat."
As you might imagine, testing the fireproofing and waterproofing isn't practical in most cases. We're inclined to believe ioSafe's claims, though, and it's self-evident that the SoloPRO will be much tougher than a typical desktop drive.
For more day-to-day conditions, the front of the ioSafe drive has a set of blue LEDs that light up while the drive is running. The back of the unit simply houses a data connection, power connection, and power switch as well as a vent for the FloSafe cooling system. Below the power and data ports the SoloPRO gives users a heavy duty metal bracket with a pair of mounting holes to physically secure the SoloPRO to a desk through a Kensington lock or even screws -- both very useful touches for those who need to worry about quick thefts or keeping drives away from flooding zones.
Service and performance
One of the advantages of the SoloPRO is simply the promise from the company: ioSafe warranties the drive for three years and includes one year of data recovery service at the same time. Should you use the warranty, ioSafe even pays for expedited shipping both ways and will ship out a replacement unit before the defective drive returns. Users can extend either level of protection as well. In addition to optional warranties, ioSafe also offers a heat-resistance bright orange paint job that would make the drive easier to locate in the event of a disaster. Many of these won't be needed by home users, but the extra level of accommodation could be vital for anyone who needs a working drive even after the worst incidents.
To test the performance of the SoloPRO, we used CrystalDiskMark 2.2 and ran its sequential read/write speed test. We compared the read/write results of the internal disk drive of our test computer to that of the SoloPRO connected via USB 2.0; both eSATA and USB 3.0 are on the drive, but it's still the case that many users won't have either. The average read/write speed of the internal disk drive was just above 41MB per second while the SoloPRO came in at 26.5MB per second. We'd expect much more equal performance or better if you happen to have modern connectors.
Regardless of the results of the speed test, we felt that the drive provided a responsive user experience. It's also worth noting that the drive is whisper quiet. We could hear nothing more than the gentle hum of the FloSafe cooling system, even while moving around large data files. ioSafe doesn't limit the drive to a single platform, either, so Linux and Mac users will be equally at home here.
For users looking for an extremely secure storage solution the SoloPRO is a perfect option. The combination of solid warranty, data recovery service, and industrial grade construction make this storage device an excellent choice for any situation where a single drive needs extra protection. Starting from at least $250, it's much more expensive than a regular 1TB disk -- there are also 1.5TB and 2TB versions available -- but it's inexpensive enough to be an obvious choice when there's data you can't afford to lose.