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Cody Cardarelli Aug 01, 2013

IoSafe SoloPro Backup Drive Review

At A Glance

SAFETY DANCE

Fast USB 3.0 interface; fireproof and waterproof; includes one-year data recovery service.

ELECTRIC SLIDE

Data recovery after one year is extra; heavy.

Fireproof? Waterproof? We’ll just see about that

We’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. We’ve watched “rugged” hard drive enclosures shatter on the carpet after a 2-foot drop. All our documents lost in time, like… well, like something. What we’re saying is that we’re skeptical of any marketing materials that make a product out to be fireproof, waterproof, or anything-proof. So when we got the IoSafe SoloPro, which makes such claims right on the product packaging, we did the only logical thing. We set the dang thing on fire and then dunked it in a bucket of bay water.

Mmmm, hot data. We grilled the SoloPro on high heat for 30 minutes.

Let’s back up a few steps. The IoSafe SoloPro is 7 inches high, 5 inches wide, 11 inches deep, and weighs more than 15 pounds. It’s the size of a large NAS, but contains only one 3.5-inch drive—in 1TB, 1.5TB, or 2TB capacities. We tested the USB 3.0 version; the SoloPro is also available with an eSATA/USB 2.0 interface. There’s also an SSD version, which is available in capacities up to 512GB.

The SoloPro is a behemoth of an external drive at more than 15 pounds. But is it enough to keep your data safe?

IoSafe rates the SoloPro against fire for up to half an hour at 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit (or 843 C), and against water intrusion for up to 72 hours in 10 feet of water. The SoloPro can also be secured with a Kensington lock or bolted to a table through two bolt holes in the back of the case. The front of the SoloPro contains an LED activity indicator and the rear has the USB 3.0 port, AC adapter port, and a 4cm fan for cooling.

The SoloPro comes with a year’s worth of data-recovery services (a $2,500 value; registration required) in the event of a fire or flood, and you can pay extra to upgrade that to three or five years.

Given that there’s just a single hard drive in the case, what contributes to the SoloPro’s huge size and weight? Ceramic insulation, for one thing—inches thick in every direction around the drive. The drive itself is wrapped in a waterproof, heat-resistant bag with a SATA pass-through cable going in one end. The cable runs from the rear USB-and-AC-to-SATA controller board through the insulation and pouch to the drive, so the drive is protected from the outside world.

Only the finest in fishy bay water for our water-submersion test.

Before we set it aflame, we used the SoloPro’s USB 3.0 interface to transfer about 250GB of files to it—everything from a 20GB uncompressed AVI to a Minecraft save file (10,000 tiny files in 15MB) to an entire Steam directory to a folder full of photos. The USB 3.0 interface was fast enough that our transfer speeds were only limited by the speed of the physical hard drives in the SoloPro and our test bed—averaging more than 100MB/s.

We took our SoloPro out to the Brisbane marina, with its convenient coal grills, and grilled the SoloPro for half an hour over coals in the 1,200 F range. Then we dunked it into a bucket full of the finest San Francisco Bay water to cool it down. Then we opened it up to retrieve the drive.

Thick ceramic insulation and a sealed heat-resistant bag keep the hard drive safe.

Beneath the huge ceramic insulators and sealed bag, the hard drive was unharmed. We attached the drive to our test bench using a SATA-to-USB 3.0 dock and found all of our data intact.

With its fast USB 3.0 interface, powerful fire- and waterproofing properties, and the included year’s worth of data-recovery service, the SoloPro seems like a valuable tool for the data-paranoid. It’s no substitute for an offsite backup, but it should withstand minor natural disasters with aplomb.

Here's the video of us torture testing the IoSafe.

THE VERDICT

IoSafe SoloPro Backup Drive

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