Everybody needs a couple of portable hard drives these days, but the ioSafe Rugged Portable drive is a standout in that it’s nearly indestructible, comes with a free data recovery service, and is also quite fast. If I were travelling and working in the field a lot, I’d easily choose the ioSafe over other options.
If you use portable hard drives to store and transport footage or other critical content, then you're probably already familiar with drives from LaCie, G-Technology, CalDigit, and a few other big names in portable storage. But if keeping your data safe and secure is truly your top priority, then there's a relatively new name you should put on the top of that list, above all the others: ioSafe and its Rugged Portable Hard Drive ($299 for 750GB, USB3).
The ioSafe's Rugged Portable drive is the toughest, most shock-proof and fail-safe drive I've ever used. There are two reasons I say this. First, the drive's case is built like a tank, using dense, thick aluminum with an airtight seal that's designed to absorb heat, shock, water, dust and sand. The second reason is that the Rugged Portable drive comes with a complete data recovery service (called a "DRS"), which means ioSafe will use all means available to recover any data you lose from the drive (including accidental deletes and reformats). And if ioSafe can't recover the data themselves, they send the drive to the well-known DriveSavers service.
These two features make the Rugged Portable drive your best option for keeping important data safe on the road, especially if that road might be a bumpy one.
Beefy but Still Small
The Rugged Portable hard drive is bigger than most other portable hard drives, but not appreciably. And it's heavier than the portable competition (1 pound), but that's still light enough to stick in a laptop or camera bag, and not notice you've got it.
And yet, for that small increase in size and weight, you get a drive that can handle all sorts of abuse:
- Crush it under 2500 pounds (you can actually get a titanium version that handles up to 5000 pounds).
- Submerge it in up to 10 feet of fresh or salt water for up to 3 days.
- Drop it from up to 10 feet
- Subject it to freezing rain, dust, direct sun, or ice for up to 24 hours.
- Run it at altitudes up to 15,000 feet (or 30,000 feet with the titanium case).
I wasn't able to test my 750GB Rugged Portable drive in all of these conditions, but I did give it a beating you wouldn't wish on any other drive. First, I dropped it from 9 feet onto hard pavement -- 3 times. Then I submerged the drive in a pot of water for about 12 hours. Then, I hopped in my 3500 pound Toyota SUV, and drove over the drive a couple of times, finally parking a front tire atop it for an hour.
All of this abuse would have killed most portable drives. But after each test, I plugged the drive into a Mac, and it continued to work fine, with all my data intact.
True, the Rugged Portable's great-looking aluminum case showed a few scratches and nicks, but that was about the only hint of torture the drive endured (see front and bottom pictures below). And here's a nice bonus: the drive comes with a 1-year warranty, but that covers any physical damage, no questions asked (and you can expand that warranty up to 5 years...see below). Many portables drives are now offering 3 year warranties, but you're not likely to get very far with customer service if they see the drive has been physically mangled.
Drive Recovery Options
As I said, the Rugged Portable drive also comes with a one-time data recovery service that lasts as long as its warranty does. That means ioSafe will use all available means to recover ANY data loss on the drive, even if the loss is due to your own error.
But here's the best part: if ioSafe can't recover your data itself, it will send the drive to the world-famous DriveSavers Data Recovery
outfit in California. DriveSavers will use up to $2500 of service to recover the data (typical services run from $700 to $2700).
Getting all this recovery service with a $299 hard drive is a great and entirely unique kind of deal, as far as I know. Still, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- The timetable for recovery usually runs from a couple of days (not including shipping time) to two weeks.
- ioSafe tells me that between their own recovery efforts and DriveSavers', they're able to recover 95% of drives that come their way.
- Again, this is a one-time service per ioSafe hard drive. You can't send the same drive in for multiple recoveries.
Oh yea, how's the drive's performance? Well, you can buy versions of the drive with USB 2 and FireWire 800 interfaces, but mine came with a USB 3 port (which is bus-powered, so there's no need for a separate power supply).
I tested the drive on a Mac Pro with a CalDigit USB 3 card installed, and in copying data from a fast 8-drive raid to and from the ioSafe drive, got data rates of about 100 MB/s while copying large multi-gig video files (read and writes) and 40 MB/s when copying smaller files (music tracks).
That's pretty much where I would expect a 7200 rpm portable drive to be on USB 3.
Extending Your Warranty
Since you'll be buying the Rugged Portable with reliability in mind, you might want to take advantage of ioSafe's one-time offer to extend your one-year warranty to three or five years (this also extends your eligibility for ioSafe's one-time data recovery service).
You can only extend your warranty during the online registration process, though, so give it some thought. It costs $50 to extend to three years, and $100 for five years.
REVIEW RATING: 5 of 5 COWS
About Helmut Kobler
Helmut Kobler is a Los Angeles-based documentary & reality cameraman. He's also written three editions of Final Cut Pro for Dummies
. For more info, go to http://www.losangelescameraman.com