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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Demo hard drive

Back of the Solo

Inside of Solo

Photos copied onto Solo

Ready to go into pool

Splash in pool

Solo under water

Soaked drive

Solo undergoing heat test

Burner lit

Unit on fire

Temperature increases

Outside melts

More time in fire

Fire put out

Hosed with water

Ready for recovery

Opening the box

Hard drive inside

Like new

Next to another drive

Cooled by fan

Plugged into reader

Photos intact

Dong photo

ioSafe claims its disaster-proof Solo external hard drive can survive both water submersion and intense heat. At CES, the company set out to prove that.

This is the demo unit. The external hard drive is significantly larger and heavier than most external hard drives that house a single 3.5-inch internal hard drive. The Solo, nonetheless, looks good.

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
This is the back of the Solo. The drive supports only USB 2.0 connection.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
This is the inside of a Solo. Here we can see the internal hard drive being housed inside a casket of fire- and water-proof materials. This is not the inside of the actual demo unit.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
This is the beginning of the demo, when photos that ioSafe CEO Robb Moor took of us on the way to the demo site were being copied onto the Solo. This is to see if the photos would still be there at the end of the demo.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
Robb is about to throw the Solo into the pool. The Solo is designed to withstand water submersion down to 10 feet for up to 24 hours. This pool is much less shallow than 10 feet.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
Splash!
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
Now the Solo is under the water. It was left there for a few minutes.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
When taken out, the drive is soaked with water. According to Robb, by now, the drive might not work if plugged in as water might have destroyed its outer circuit board. But the purpose of the demo is to show the data is still safe. However, the demo is far from over.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
The Solo will now have to go through the heat test. Here, it's put inside a burner. For comparison and regular SATA hard drive is also put inside the burner.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
And the burner is lit up!
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
And very quickly the unit was engulfed in flames.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
The temperature increased very fast...
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
A few minutes later, the outside of the unit started to melt.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
After a few minutes more, the temperature got to more than 1600 degrees. The Solo was left inside for about five more minutes.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
When the fire was put out, the Solo no longer looked like I remembered.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
The solo is now hosed with water to cool it down and to simulate what would be done to it by firefighters if it was in a burning house.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
The drive is all clean and ready to for the data recovery process to start. The process involves opening up the drive to get to the internal hard drive.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
Robb is opening the box.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
When opened, the hard drive inside is found to be wrapped inside another layer of protective material.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
Inside that layer, the Seagate drive seems like brand new.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
And it looks very different from its unlucky friend which had the same inferno experience. It's still relatively hot.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Internactive
The drive is now being cooled down by a fan.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
Once cooled down, it's plugged into an external hard drive reader that's connected to the notebook via a USB connection.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
And all photos are still there...
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
...including the one of me.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive
Updated:
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