Waterproof, shock-resistant, and sandstorm-proof, but not sledgehammer-proof
There’s a hidden part of each of us that revels in destruction. That part of us sees a piece of technology billed as “rugged” and vows to destroy it. Granted, most rugged hard drive enclosures are a joke—a thin layer of rubber over a standard plastic chassis; or a thin aluminum shell, if you’re lucky, with a 2.5-inch drive held inside. They’re meant to survive a drop from a desk to the floor, or sometimes just to look cool. IoSafe, on the other hand, is serious about the “rugged” label, and the Rugged Portable SSD is among the toughest external drives you can get. Challenge accepted.
The Rugged Portable consists of a two-part, milled‑aluminum chassis. Its only external features are a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port (a FireWire model is coming soon), a status LED, and a Kensington lock port. Four Phillips-head screws and a rubber gasket seal the two sides together, and the chassis is rated for up to three days of submersion in 30 feet of water. It can withstand a dunking in 12 feet of diesel fuel for up to an hour—great news for those of us who work near open vats of fuel. It meets military sandstorm, altitude, and temperature specs, and can withstand a drop of 20 feet onto concrete, as well as over 2,500 pounds of crushing pressure. We’ve blasted it with birdshot, crushed it in a vise, thrown it down a concrete stairwell, hit it with a claw hammer, run over it with an SUV, and submerged it in an aquarium—all without it skipping a beat.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever, though a few trips down the stairwell will scuff the aluminum on the Rugged Portable a little bit.
The SSD version ships with an Intel 320 Series SSD inside. We’re not sure whether it’s the onboard SATA-to-USB 3.0 controller or the USB 3.0 controller on our test motherboard (Asus P8P67 Pro), but we noticed about a 50-60MB/s slowdown on sequential tests using the Rugged Portable SSD versus a bare Intel 320 Series SSD. Still, with sequential read speeds around 200MB/s and sequential writes around 130MB/s, the Rugged Portable is darn fast.
The base model, with an aluminum chassis and 120GB SSD, is $500, or about $300 more than a 120GB SSD and basic enclosure, but you get what you pay for. For all normal use cases and some extreme ones, the Rugged Portable is nigh indestructible. We managed to completely break ours with a 20-pound-head sledgehammer (well outside the Rugged Portable’s rated tolerance), but even if you manage the same, the Rugged Portable comes with a one-year, no-questions-asked warranty and up to $5,000 worth of data recovery service, like the previously reviewed SoloPro (which we set on fire).
The Rugged Portable is available in capacities up to 600GB, and for just $1,000 more than the aluminum version, you can get a model with a titanium chassis that’s rated for 5,000 pounds of crush resistance.
It’s not cheap or light, but if you need a rugged hard drive, they don’t come much more rugged than the IoSafe Rugged Portable SSD. Just don’t hit it with a sledgehammer. What kind of monster are you?