I can’t say that I am always working in an extreme environment but for some reason the thought that my equipment can handle the daily commute better than I can, appeals to me. That’s why I’m keen to have a good look at the ioSafe Rugged Portable HDD. This external USB drive in matt aluminium has been ruggedised to such an extent that even a shotgun blast at close range cannot destroy its innards! I feel an episode of Mythbusters coming on…
For those of you that follow our reviews on a regular basis know that we have passed judgement on ioSafe’s SoloPRO USB 3.0 sometime ago here. It received our Editor’s Choice Award so we know that this present product comes from a good family. They take our data very seriously. In fact, if your hard drive ever gets tested beyond what you’d normally expect from a drive, they have a data recovery service that will get all your precious data restored. And with the Rugged Portable comes one year of that service free.
Now in this review we obviously will not go shooting at this pretty device with any type of gun. It might withstand shotgun blasts but not from many of the guns which you find in the Mythbusters arsenal… The full metal jacket can withstand any crushing up to 5000 pounds for the titanium version. I just have to do with half that force with my aluminium enclosure. A full suspension drive in all six axis of motion is something that could be very useful for my cranium in a concussion situation. My brain data is infinitely more valuable in case of shock. The unit is also chemsafe, which means that it can be dunked in diesel oil and all other sort of nasty fluids. Under the label Envirosafe you can expect your data to be untouchable by snowstorms, sandstorms, harsh UV light, salt and pepper immersion. They actually don’t mention pepper but I’d be happy to take my chances with that one too. Hydrosafe means that not even the mighty Mississippi is a threat to your data, nor if it falls off an oil platform in the Gulf. At least not for 72 hours.
The only thing the Rugged Portable doesn’t handle well is fire unlike its big brother which we reviewed earlier. I queried Management & Co, embodied by the PR guy Brett Callow, who enlightened me on the following: “Fireproofing would have made it substantially heavier – think how much the SoloPRO weighs! Anyway, the main risk to a portable is shock, crush and environmental conditions – heat, sand, dust, etc. ”
There you go! Don’t smoke around these things…. Just kidding, I think the Rugged Portable should be able to withstand a lot of heat and smoke. Just don’t take any chances.I did not feel that we had to duplicate all the torture tests that ioSafe have inflicted on their products including water boarding.
So this article will not even have some speed tests (it does have USB 3.0 so speed will not be much of an issue) but we will try to justify the price. Now that last one is a new one for us as we normally don’t have to justify anything. However, it’s a bit more expensive than your standard external hard drive where 100 bucks will easily buy you 1TB. The Rugged Portable in its smallest edition, which is only 250 GB (!)will cost USD150 (minus the obligatory one cent discount). Add 250 for the 1 TB model. Probably the best value for money is the 300 dollar 750 GB unit which runs at 7000 rpm whereas all the others are a tad slower at 5000.
Now, if you want to know my honest opinion: I would totally have dropped all the units below 1TB as there’s not a significant price difference to buy these various drives from the manufacturer. It pays to simplify your inventory: 2 drives (HDD & SSD), 2 types of enclosures (Alum, Titanium). But then again, my marketing days are long over…. There are probably all sorts of other factors at play why they have 4 capacities on offer. I didn’t think people even made the 250GB drives anymore! Now, granted, for that extra money you get a lot of protection (including the valuable Data Recovery Service which even includes recovery from accidental formatting or a lethal virus!) and if you’re out in the field regularly, feeling rugged and rowdy you will gladly pay that bit extra. But also if the only thing you do is a daily commute and all you have with you is a tablet or netbook and you depend on an external hard drive, this is the one to go for. Yes, it plays nice with Macs too. And just like an aircraft black box is orange, this black box is a whiter shade of silvery pale — just to confuse the issue….
Portable and Rugged
These terms almost don’t go together and when you first feel the weight of the unit it might be as much as your netbook! At 1.3 lbs (or a healthy 1.7 lbs for the titanium edition!) it’s a consideration to “weigh” when you want to travel light. But then again you expect a proper safe for your valuables to be sturdy, heavy and unassailable. It’s no different with keeping your data safe. The Rugged Portable is an inpenetrable fortress and astoundingly well-built but not in the industrial way their SoloPRO is. This unit is positively clean looking.
The display box itself is well designed too and I was pleasantly surprised ioSafe sent me the 750GB version! The box containes the USB 3.0 cable but also a Y cable for USB2.0 – just in case your netbook doesn’t sport a high speed USB port yet.
A big label on the back tells you to activate the DRS which gives you up to $5000 in coverage and protection from data loss. Plus: it also gives you a free copy of Genie Timeline Professional for Windows which sells for 60 bucks…
There’s a tiny blue LED that lights up when you connect the USB cable. And from here on out it’s business as usual: backups are easily made and large files transfer quickly over the USB3.0 cable.
This is not a mass market device obviously but the market for these Rugged Portables is probably bigger than you would imagine. Any photographer who depends on external storage when out on a big job would find this a necessary accessory. Any tablet or netbook user, carrying lots of data around, would find this handy. Of course, high-capacity USB thumb drives might do the same job but if you need more than 32 GB a hard drive is the way to go. I think ioSafe got the product right, the price right and, I hate to admit it, the weight right …
So what’s our verdict? Highly recommended!
By the way, ioSafe just announced a 3 TB version of the fireproof and everything else proof SoloPRO! I am excited about this one as that capacity will go a long way to protect most data from small businesses and households alike. We hope to bring you an update on this big beast before too long. Stay tuned….
Data Recovery Service (DRS) and No-Hassle™ Warranty1
• 1 Year Data Recovery Service (DRS) included – one time, any reason, no questions asked
• 1 Year No-Hassle™ Warranty included – replacement or repair for any defects or damage
• DRS includes accidental deletion, any damage, disasters or hardware failure
• Up to $2500 included for third party forensic recovery service if needed for DRS (HDD versions)
• Up to $5000 included for third party forensic recovery service if needed for DRS (SSD versions)
• 3 and 5 year upgrades for DRS and No-Hassle™ Warranty plans available at www.iosafe.com
Construction and Physical Security Specifications
• Full Metal Jacket™ Technology – CNC machined enclosure from a solid billet of aluminum (Al) or titanium (Ti) alloy. Crush resistant to up to 5000 lbs (Ti) and
2500 lbs (Al) yet weighs as little as a pound (Al).
• Full Suspension Drive™ Technology – Full suspension in all six axes of motion. Optimized for data loss protection from drop and shock of 20’ drops (SSD version)
• HydroSafe™ Technology – Waterproof yet heat conducting barrier to protect against data loss up to 10’ for 3 days in fresh water or salt water (aluminum version)
or 30’ for 3 days (titanium version) per IP68. Protects data even when USB plug is in. No requirement for a connector cap to retain data protection.
• ChemSafe™ Technology – Full immersion in diesel fuel, oils, hydraulic fluids, aircraft fuels, 12” depth for 1 hour with no data loss per MIL-STD-810G Method 504
• EnviroSafe™ Technology – Continuous exposure to UV, blowing sand, blowing dust, rain, salt fog, icing or freezing rain, 24 hours with no data loss per
MIL-STD-810G Methods 505.4, 506.4, 509.4 and 510.
• AltiSafe™ Technology – High altitude operation. 15K ft. (Alum.) and 30K ft. (SSD and Ti.) rated altitudes per MIL-STD-810G Method 500.4
• Theft Resistant Kensington® Lock compatible slot solid metal construction – theft protection
Software Specifications (included but not required for use)
• Genie Timeline™ Pro Full Version2 ($60 Value) Award winning backup software. Simple, block level, open file and OS Continuous Data Protection (CDP)
software for Windows users. Disaster recovery for entire hard drive including programs and settings, roll back and AES encryption features for the ultimate
protection. Registration required at www.iosafe.com to validate purchase prior to downloading software and install code.
• Apple® Mac® TimeMachine® Supported – Apple Time Machine fully supported. Reformat of device may be required. Simple instructions online at
• TrueCrypt® AES-256 Encryption Compatible3 – Open source, encryption software. FIPS 140-2, ISO/IEC 10118-3:2004. PC, Mac and Linux compatible.
• 5400, 7200 RPM HDDs available, 250GB – 1TB capacities
• SSD capacities from 256GB-512GB
• Billet-machined Aluminum (1lb.) and Titanium (1.5 lb.) enclosures (3.9″W x 5.7″L x 1.0″H)
• Multi-platform compatibility with Mac & PC/Windows
• USB 3.0 (compatible with USB 2.0 computers)
Inside The Box
• ioSafe Rugged Portable + DRS
• USB 3.0 Cable (USB 3.0 version),
• Owners Manual and Warranty
• Intel Pentium II 350 Mhz-compatible or Mac G3 processor & greater
• For USB 3.0/USB 2.0 speeds, the system must support applicable specifications
• Operating: 0 to 35°C (32 to 95°F) for HDD versions
• Operating: 0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F) for SSD versions
• Non-operating: -40°C to 65°C (-40 to 149°F) all versions
• Operating Humidity: 5% – 80% (non-condensing) all versions
• Non-operating Humidity: 100%, Full immersion, 10 feet, 3 days (Aluminum version)
• Non-operating Humidity: 100%, Full immersion, 30 feet, 3 days (Titanium version)