We've covered numerous backup systems here on SlashGear, ranging from simple USB hard-drives through network-attached media boxes and full-on RAID arrays, but bar individual drive failure we've never really considered the impact of physical damage. That's exactly the sort of thing that ioSafe have in mind with their Solo drive, up to 1.5TB of fireproof, waterproof storage. SlashGear have been testing it out.
Going by appearances only, there's little to differentiate the ioSafe Solo from other external hard-drives. A metal-clad 11 x 7.1 x 5 inches, it's larger than most single-drive enclosures, but not dramatically so. Around the back there's a USB 2.0 port, power socket and hardware power switch; more unusually, there's also a hole through which you can bolt the Solo to the floor or desk, or thread with a security cable.
Even if it's not bolted down, picking up the ioSafe Solo isn't as simple as other drives. It weighs a full 15lbs, thanks to the thick metal plate and the various other protective features installed. ioSafe claim the Solo can withstand 30 minutes of 1,550 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, or submersion into 10 feet of fresh or sale water for up to three days, without experiencing data loss.
While we were all ready to throw the ioSafe Solo onto the barbecue and give it a decent roasting, it turns out you can't merely brush off the soot and keep backing up. Should the unthinkable happen and you burn or flood your Solo, it needs to be returned to ioSafe for recovery; they'll extract the drive, rescue any data and send it back on a new Solo.
Buyers get one year's access to that service as standard, with an extension to three or five years costing $49.99 or $59.99 respectively. If ioSafe can't rescue all your data, then they'll pay up to $1,000 for a third-party company to attempt it. Beyond that five years you're on your own, but there's a good argument that you'd want to update the hard-drives themselves.
In terms of improvements, we wish ioSafe had thrown a few more connection options onto the Solo. USB 2.0 is certainly generic enough to suit most users, but a Firewire 800 port and/or an eSATA port would have offered not only a speed boost but some extra flexibility too. We'd also like to see a drive refresh option from the company: keeping the expensive enclosure, but updating the hard-drives inside. That way you could keep apace of drive speed and capacity increases, without having to shell out for a complete new system.
Still, as it stands the ioSafe Solo adds another degree of reassurance to your backup process that many users don't even consider: physical damage. True, the threat of real-world harm might be less likely than simple data corruption - whether from virus, spyware, crash or user-error - but realizing your precious backup drives have been toasted along with the originals is a feeling we'd very much like to avoid experiencing. Such reassurance isn't cheap - the 500GB Solo model starts at $149.99, while the 1.5TB model comes in at $299.99 with one year of data-recovery - compared to regular external hard-drives, but it's perhaps a small price for peace of mind.
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