ioSafe Solo Disaster Proof External Hard Drive Review
By Richard Vertrees on May 28, 2010


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

The Solo from ioSafe is an external hard drive that is designed to keep your data safe in case of a disaster – especially fire and flood. This product comes in four capacities: 500 GB, 1 TB, 1.5 TB, and 2 TB. We set the 500 GB on fire for 30 minutes and then dropped gallons of water on it. Let’s see if it survived!

When purchased this product includes a three-year warranty and a one-year data recovery service. For USD 100 you can upgrade this to a five-year warranty and a five-year data recovery service.

By the way, ioSafe also has an SSD product line, which is also shock resistant – according to the manufacturer it can be dropped from the top of an eight-story building.

In Figures 1 and 2 you can see the overall look of the Solo, which comes in one color, a dull silver. The general look is a smoothly curved cinder block with the ioSafe logo on the front. The holes on the front above and below the ioSafe logo glow blue when the drive is in use.

ioSafe Solo
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Figure 1: ioSafe Solo.

ioSafe Solo
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Figure 2: ioSafe Solo.

As you can see in Figure 2 there is only a connection for a USB 2.0 cable – though the SSD models are eSATA-capable. For increased security this model comes with a floor bolt mount on the back of the case.

ioSafe Solo
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Figure 3: Cables.

Now let’s see now let’s take a closer look at the inner workings of the Solo.

Inside the IoSafe Solo

When you open the case you can plainly see what gives the hard drive its thermal resistance: there are two ceramic pieces fitted together around the hard drive. As you can see there is a fan positioned between the ceramic pieces as well to pull heat off of the hard drive.

ioSafe Solo
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Figure 4: Inside the case.

As you can see in Figure 5 one of the ceramic pieces has air pathways molded into it to allow air to be pulled from the front of the case across the hard drive and ejected out the back.

ioSafe Solo
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Figure 5: Ceramic parts.

In Figure 6, you can see how the hard drive is fit inside the ceramic shield and the water proof wrap that is around the hard drive. Where the cables enter the water shield you can see some black putty used to water proof this section. The hard drive is held in place with four foam rubber spacers that keep the drive from moving but also allow for some shock absorption.

ioSafe Solo
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Figure 6: Between the ceramic shield.

In Figure 7 You can see the main controller used by the Solo, a JMicron JM20337.

ioSafe Solo
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Figure 7: Control chip.

As you can see in Figure 8 the hard drive used by this external case is the Hitachi Deskstar P7K500 (HDP725050GLA360).

ioSafe Solo
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Figure 8: Hard drive.

Our Tests

First we loaded six pictures onto the hard drive to confirm that no corruption occurred during the burning process.

To test this disaster proof enclosure we put it in a fire for 30 minutes (the Solo is rated to withstand 1550° F/843° C for 30 minutes). The fire was fueled using common building materials to emulate the heat of a building fire. We then put out the fire with a common garden hose.

After being in the fire for 30 minutes and being doused with water we extracted the hard drive from the enclosure and allowed it to cool to room temperature. Once cooled it was plugged into our computer and accessed to verify that it was still operational.

This video shows exactly how we tested. The burn stage is not completely shown in the video to keep the video short.

As you can see in the video the hard drive survived our test and all the data on the drive was intact.

As for performance, we tested it using HDTune and Diskspeed32, achieving an average transfer rate of 34.4 MB/s and 31 MB/s, respectively. This is a low performance compared to what a hard drive can achieve when connected directly on the motherboard, but similar to other USB 2.0 devices. An eSATA port would be a nice addition to improve the performance of the product.

Main Specifications

ioSafe Solo external hard disk drive main features are:

* Reasearched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

Here is a summary of what we liked and disliked about the product.

Strong Points

  • Physically durable
  • Fire proof and water proof
  • Theft protection
  • Relatively inexpensive for what it offers
  • Excellent cost/benefit ratio

Weak Points

  • Only supports USB 2.0
  • Not very aesthetically pleasing

The ioSafe Solo did exactly what it was designed to do, withstand water and fire damage, and thus we are definitely recommending this product. This product is geared towards private users or small businesses that do not have off site back up for their information.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/ioSafe-Solo-Disaster-Proof-External-Hard-Drive-Review/1011


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