Despite the increasingly digital state of the world around us, there are still important documents and possessions that most of us own that are not adaptable to the safety and security (at least, in an ideal world) of our digital empire. Things like birth certificates, property titles, and Social Security cards, for instance. To protect such items, many modern household have fire safes – stronghold boxes that can withstand a house fire, flood, or other natural disaster.
In today’s modern world, many of us also have digital documents, images, or other files that are just as valuable as these paper possessions that technology has so far left behind. Whether it’s important files for your job, pictures and video of important moments in the lives of children, spouses, or siblings, important records that you don’t quite trust putting on the internet (“the cloud”), or something else, you might want to ask yourself what you would do if you lost these digital treasures.
Despite the importance of certain digital goods, most people do not safeguard their data the same way they might safeguard a birth certificate or house title. And why not? Well – you can’t put your computer’s hard drive in a bank deposit box, can you? And a large hard drive is of little use to you if it’s locked in a fire safe. But what if there was a fire safe specifically for your data? As it turns out, there is. Say hello to the ioSafe Solo G3 (starting at $349).
The ioSafe G3 is to your important digital items what a fire safe is to your important paper items. According to ioSafe, the drive is capable of withstanding temperatures of just over 1500 degrees for 30 minutes (significantly hotter than most house fires), complete and immersion in up to 10 feet of water for up to 72 hours. And if your drive doesn’t manage to stand up to a disaster, ioSafe will put their money where their mouths are and pay to recover your data (each drive comes with 1 complimentary data recovery). They’ll also replace your drive if it fails during the 1 year or optional 3 year warranty period for ANY reason, no questions asked.
With a drive like the ioSafe Solo G3, the safety of your critical files need no longer be a cause for concerned. The G3 is an impressive digital fortress – and even if something does go awry, ioSafe has your back. That’s protection you can rely on.
As much as the ioSafe Solo G3 is a nearly indestructible brute when it comes to guarding your data, it’s also a beautiful work of art and engineering. It’s as appealing and well-designed on the outside as it is on the inside, featuring an attractive metal vent pattern on both the front and back, and sports a carefully crafted design that is both rugged and sophisticated. Most importantly, it does this while maintaining quick and easy rear access to its power and USB ports, as well as its on and off switch.
Perhaps the most fascinating element of the Solo G3 is the method that ioSafe used to give the device its brutish durability. Inside its metal casing, the Solo G3 hides a full ceramic vault, which in turn hides a special watertight bag. The ceramic shell acts as a powerful heat shield, while the bag provides complete protection from water.
This extreme durability does come at a bit of a cost in design terms, however. In order to house enough ceramic material to shield from 1500-degree temperatures, the ioSafe G3 is extremely heavy – just over 15 pounds. But assuming that it’s designed to sit on a desk or other fairly permanent location, that’s not too much of a downside.
Conversely, the rugged design also comes with a separate very positive side effect: because the actual hard drive is encased in thick ceramic, the drive is almost completely silent, even while transferring data. I had to strain myself in a quiet room to even hear it running at all.
Between its nearly invincible build, it’s practically silent operation, and it’s pleasing physical design, it’s plain to see that a great deal of thought and effort went into all aspects of ioSafe’s design.
The Solo G3 already has brutish strength and a certain handsome rugged quality – but it’s just as important to evaluate how well this thing performs. I ran it through some tests to find out.
I’m just gonna say this right up front: The Solo G3 is anything but a speed demon. At its best, when hooked up to my iMac over USB 3.0, the drive is able to manage sustained transfer speeds of just over 100MB/s. While that’s not lightning fast (I’ve clocked other desktop USB 3.0 drives at up to 125-130MB/s), it does meet normal expectations for a USB 3.0 drive.
More importantly, it’s worth noting that this drive is NOT designed for high-speed transfers – it’s designed for rugged protection. After all, you wouldn’t race a tank against a traditional street car, right?
Besides its fire and water protection features, the Solo G3 also features a Kensington lock slot, enabling you to chain it to a desk or table to deter theft. It’s also able to be bolted down to a surface for additional security. To top it off, the drive also comes bundled with powerful backup software (Genie Timeline Pro), which offers a variety of backup and recovery options, as well as the ability to sync files between your Mac or IP and your iOS device. Last but not least, it also comes with TruCrypt, enabling you to place military-grade file encryption on its contents.
When it comes to protecting the safety and security of your data, the Solo G3 has your bases covered.
- Trial by fire…and water…
This is where things got fun: testing the Solo G3’s heat resistance and water resistance. To test heat resistance, I decided to do a little baking. I popped the Solo G3 into my oven at 550 degrees fahrenheit while baking several pizza’s for a friendly poker game – for a total of about 1 hour. While that’s nowhere near the drive’s rating of 1500 degrees for 30 minutes, it’s as close as I could safely test.
After letting it cool enough to carry the drive, I then took it straight to the bath tub. I let it soak there for about 2 hours before I checked back. To my delight, neither the baking session nor the bath affected the Solo G3 in the slightest. After drying it with a towel, I hooked it back up to my Mac, and found it to be in perfect working order.
If you need more convincing, check out this gem where GearDiary placed the drive into a car, then lit the car on fire and let it burn to a crisp. The drive survives beautifully.
This is a bit tougher. The drive is currently available in both 2TB and 3TB capacities, for a retail price of $349 or $399, respectively. While this is a lot more than you’d spend for most similarly sized desktop drives, it also packs a lot more protection (and therefore, more materials and engineering) than a traditional desktop external drive.
While the drive is not cheap by any means, the included disaster protection and complementary data recovery are well worth the added cost. The data recovery in particular is a fantastic value. Companies like DriveSavers will charge upwards of $500 (or often much more) to recover data from a failed or damaged drive.
To protect your data from fires and floods without a device like the G3, you would need to use online backup (or have the hassle of rotating drives into a safety deposit box). If you compare the cost of the G3 to the cost of online backup, it’s actually less expensive. For example, to store 1TB from 2x computers with CrashPlan (the cheapest option I am aware of at the moment) would cost $480. With Carbonite, it’d be $590. And with Mozy, it’d be more than $3k. In comparison, to store 1TB on a G3 with 5 years warranty/Data Recovery Service would cost $450.
You can never be too careful with your data. While the ioSafe G3 will set you back a fair amount of money, what you’re really paying for is peace of mind – and an extremely good deal on data recovery if you happen to need it at any point. This, combined with the drive’s solid data transfer speeds, security features, and included backup tools, make the ioSafe G3 a very worthwhile device to own for anyone concerned about disaster-proofing their data.
Despite the drive’s many merits, however, the product still only appeals to a niche market of highly-prepared folks who can afford the minimum $350 price tag – and for that, I have no choice but to deduct a half point from an otherwise perfect score.
For more information, or to purchase the ioSafe G3, head on over to ioSafe’s website!