Most people nowadays are aware to a greater or lesser extent that they should backup their data. Whether it's a hard drive failure on your PC, someone stealing your phone, or losing your camera's memory card, without having backups of your photos, home videos, music, and documents, were the worst to happen you'll never see them again. Now normal backup procedures like having a second external hard drive, regularly syncing your phone, and always using multiple memory cards puts paid to most of these problems. However, what these measures can't protect against is flat out disasters like a house fire, flood, or indeed your house falling down. That is where the ioSafe SoloPro comes in.
This enormous and heavy steel box encloses a 1TB (1.5TB, and 2TB also available) hard drive that it protects from fires up 840 degrees Celsius for half an hour and from sitting in water up to a depth of 10ft for three days. In other words, if you have a house fire, this thing can get toasted by the fire then doused by the fire brigade and still live to tell the tale.
The way it does this is by housing the drive in a number of protective layers starting with a tough steel case measuring 28 x 18 x 12.7cm. This model isn't officially crush resistant but the 2mm thick steel box should keep it protected from most household detritus landing on its head.
Removing a dozen or so screws and taking the steel off we get to the fire protection layer which is made of DataCast endothermic insulating material. This is a ceramic that actually has water embedded in it, which is released as vapour to cool the drive down during a fire. Opening up the ceramic fire protection and there are flow channels that keep air circulating round the device when in normal operation.
Finally we come to the water protection side of things, which is taken care of simply by a vacuum sealed plastic bag around the drive. While this may sound overly simple, the idea is that the bag and drive aren't under threat in any other way aside from water – the rest of the box protects from fire and impact – so it only has to be water proof, not tough.
You may have gathered that, aside from the drive itself the SoloPro is destroyed by the fire and water exposure. Even a brief dunking will render the power supply, cooling fan, and external data connections useless, at least until they've thoroughly dried out again. Likewise, even a light toasting will destroy most of the plastic therein. So, this isn't a ruggedised device, per se, just a disaster resistant one.
Of course we couldn't let these claims go untested so we did a little trial by fire and water of our own.
Before we get onto the fun part, though, let's take a quick look at what features this drive has. Round the back there's a USB 3.0 port, which provides a fast and universal data connection. That is the only option though, so you'll need another device to give this box access to your network – i.e. by attaching this to a NAS box or picking up a USB to network adapter. Next to the USB connector is the power input and on its right is a power switch, while above this lot is a fan for keeping everything cool during normal operation.