As a self-employed, professional photographer, my image files are my living, so keeping those files safe is a high priority for me. Lately I’ve trusted a brick of a hard dive made by ioSafe, the Rugged Portable SSD model, which the company describes as being like “an aircraft blackbox for mobile data.”
The hard drive is touted as crush-proof to 5,000 pounds, waterproof to 30 feet under, and drop-proof to 20 feet. It can operate in altitudes up to 30,000 feet above sea level, and it can even withstand being submersed in chemicals like diesel fuel and oils. In short, this puppy can handle far more abuse than I ever hope to throw at it!
These amazing “ruggedized” characteristics, many of them made to military specs, are accomplished by using a CNC’d aluminum housing and an Intel solid-state drive. Inside the metal box, the hard drive is set on a “full suspension [system] with six axes of motion.”
In my test, for the last few months, the Rugged Portable SSD has done exactly what it was designed to do — it moves files quickly thanks to its speedy USB 3.0 (also works with USB 2.0) port, and it gives me a good measure of confidence when transporting the drive in somewhat risky situations (bike commuting to meetings and photo shoots, for example).
While we never dropped the unit from 20 feet or submerged it in diesel fuel, we’ve seen tests of the hard drive being run over by vehicles, burned in a furnace, frozen in ice, and dropped repeatedly onto hard surfaces. It looked all but bombproof as far as electronics go.
Durability comes at a cost, however, including a design that weighs more than a pound and is about twice as big as comparable units. It’s pricey, too, ranging from $500 for the 120GB model to $2,000 for a drive with 600GB of storage. (The company’s slightly-less-rugged HDD model, which is almost as tough but substantially cheaper, starts at $149 for the 250GB version.)
But though it’s large, remember that it will not need a bulky, padded storage case like most drives — the Rugged Portable SSD’s “padding” and protection is built-in. As for price, I think the monetary cost of protection is far easier to stomach than irreplaceable files being lost. For real, hardcore protection for files, you’d be hard pressed to find a better solution than this armored data storage case.
—T.C. Worley is a GearJunkie contributor as well as a freelance photojournalist for New York Times and other publications.