First introduced at CES 2011 with much fanfare, the IoSafe Rugged Portable hard drive is the portable version of its 15-pound brother, the IoSafe SoloPro. Much more compact than the SoloPro, the Rugged Portable is about the same size and weight as a 3.5-inch internal hard drive. This is because it's the first portable drive on the market to offer protection against extreme conditions, thanks to its watertight, full metal casing and built-in shock-absorbing technology. Other than extreme heat, the drive can survive almost anything else, even certain types of bullets.
The Rugged Portable offers good performance as portable drives go. It's bus-powered and comes with enough cables to draw sufficient power from a computer's USB ports. With pricing that ranges from $149 for a 250GB version to $399 for 1TB, the Rugged Portable is significantly more expensive than other portable drives of the same capacities. To make up for this, IoSafe bundles the drive with a year's warranty that includes a Data Recovery Service that covers up to $5,000 worth of data damage.
If you work in hazardous environments, travel frequently, or tend to get rough with your devices, the Rugged Portable would be a good investment. Those who want to have an ultrasafe drive to use at home should consider the SoloPro, as it can withstand fire also. Users who don't need these features, however, might want look for more affordable alternatives.
Design and features
|Drive type||2.5-inch rugged portable drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0, USB 3.0|
|Size (LWH)||5.7x0.9x1.0 inches|
|Available capacities||256GB, 500GB, 750GB, 1TB|
|Capacity of test unit||750GB|
|OSes supported||Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7), Mac OS 10.4.6 or higher|
|Software included||Genie9 Timeline Pro backup software (registration required)|
With a casing made out of solid billet aluminum, the IoSafe Rugged Portable looks and feels like a small brick. It's shiny, however, and much tougher. The drive can handle drops from 10 feet, being submerged in water (even saltwater) at 10 feet deep for up to 72 hours, and being crushed by up to 2,500 pounds, and still keep its data intact. IoSafe says the drive is also fully protected from chemicals and dust. There's another version of the Rugged Portable, housed in titanium casing and based on a solid-state drive, that can withstand even more strenuous environmental challenges.
Considering this level of protection, it's quite amazing how compact the Rugged Portable is. The drive weighs just about 1 pound and measures just 5.7 inches by 0.9 inch by 1 inch. To put this in perspective, the SoloPro, which can withstand extreme heat, weighs about 15 pounds and is considerably bulkier.
The IoSafe Rugged Portable has only one Mini-USB 3.0 port, on the back, and comes with two cables. One of them is a regular Mini-USB 3.0 cable to be used with a USB 3.0 port. This cable works as both a data and a power cable. When used with USB 2.0, however, the drive will need the second, Y-shaped cable. This cable can use two USB ports at the same time to draw enough juice to power the drive.
The Rugged Portable doesn't require setup for use with a Windows computer: all you have to do is plug it in and it will work immediately, as the drive is preformatted using the NTFS file system. To use it with a Mac, however, you'll need to use Disk Utility to reformat it to HFS+, a quick and easy job.
At the bottom, the drive has a registration card affixed to it. You will need this card to register the drive with IoSafe to have the IoSafe Data Recovery Service activated. IoSafe says that with the service the company will pay up to $5,000, depending on which model you buy, to recover data if the drive is damaged for whatever reason. This service can be extended to three or five years. Registration will also offer Windows users a full version of the Genie9 Timeline Pro backup software, for free.