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The ioSafe Solo G3 is a great upgrade to the previous SoloPro by being quiet, better-looking, and offering faster performance. Still, it's not for everyone, but that's for the same reason not everybody needs an armored truck for their daily commute.
Similar to the SoloPro, the G3 is huge, heavy, and comes with layers of protection to guard the internal hard drive against extreme heat and water submersion. The G3, however, doesn't come with any fans, making it run silently. The new G3's pricing is relatively friendly for a drive of its type, with the 1TB version costing about $300. There are also 2TB and 3TB versions that cost $350 and $400, respectively. Compared with other regular external drives of the same capacities, these prices are much higher, but that's because other drives are just like those Honda Civics that won't keep you safe from bullets. (No offense to the Civic, but we're talking about something else other than gas millage and affordability here).
If you have a large amount of data, such as medical records, that needs to be regularly backed up and kept through floods, fires, or even tornadoes, the ioSafe Solo G3 makes a great investment. If you want a similar drive that also offers support for eSATA, check out the SoloPro.
Design and features
|Drive type||3.5-inch external USB hard drive|
|Connector options||USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)|
|Size (WHD)||5.0 x 7.1 x 11 inches|
|Available capacities||1TB, 2TB, 3TB|
|Capacity of test unit||1TB|
|OSes supported||Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7), Mac OS 8.6 or higher|
|Software included||Genie Timeline Pro|
Like the SoloPro, the new Solo G3 looks like a huge asphalt brick, though better-looking with a new, shiny outer casing. At 15 pounds, it'll likely be the heaviest external hard drive you've seen. It's so heavy that, with its rounded corners, it's actually hard to pick it up. It would be nice if it came with a handle on top, but unfortunately it doesn't.
The reason the drive is so big and heavy is because of multiple layers of protective material that keeps the internal hard drive safe from extreme heat (up to 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes). The drive is also able to survive water submersion up to 10 feet for up to 3 days.
On the front the G3 has just one tiny, blue indicator light. The light shines solid blue when the drive is powered on and flashes blue during hard-drive activity. It's very bright, however, and might become a little annoying if you want to keep the room dark.
Unlike the SoloPro, the Solo G3 doesn't have any fans, making it work almost completely silently, except for the faint humming of the hard drive inside. It produces no vibration, either. On the back the G3 comes with just one USB 3.0 standard port, the power port, and an on/off switch. The drive has no other connection type, such as FireWire, eSATA, or Thunderbolt.
While I couldn't find any extreme conditions to test drive it against (leaving it submerged in a bathtub overnight, which I did, is not considered extreme), I've seen many demonstrations from ioSafe. In fact the company is willing to honor the warranty if the G3 is damaged for whatever reason. And this means if you want to try, you can test it out yourself.
It's not necessary, however; I have no problem believing that the G3 can survive what ioSafe claims it can. What I am more concerned about, however, is the fact that it's still a single-volume external hard drive, with just one hard drive on the inside. This means it doesn't support any RAID configurations (such as RAID 1, which safeguards the data against a single-drive failure). So while the data could survive extreme conditions, it might be lost if the internal hard drive dies from defects, mechanical problems, or just general wear and tear over time. Users are not able to replace the internal hard drive on their own. Once the chassis is opened, ioSafe no longer guarantees the effectiveness of the Solo G3's protection.
Note that the Solo G3's chassis is designed to protect your data against extreme conditions just once, meaning that the drive itself will likely stop working once put through fire. At this time, you can peel off layers of protection to retrieve the internal hard drive and then connect it to a computer to recover the data. After that, you'll need to buy another G3 if you want to make sure your data will survive another disaster.
The Solo G3 is preformatted using NTFS and works immediately when plugged into a Windows computer. It also comes with a retail version of Genie Timeline Pro backup software, which worked well in my trials. You can use the Solo G3 with a Mac by reformatting it into HFS+, which takes just a few seconds. You won't be able to enjoy the fast USB 3.0 speed, however, since Macs generally only support USB 2.0.
I tested the Solo G3 with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, and it was really impressive with USB 3.0, topping the chart in both writing and reading, registering 109MBps and 111MBps, respectively.
When used with USB 2.0, it wasn't as impressive, however, with just 26MBps for writing and 32MBps for reading. Both were below the average on the chart. That said, if you really want to get the best out of the drive, make sure you use it with USB 3.0, which can be easily added to a desktop via an add-in card.
The Solo G3 worked very quietly in my testing, emitting no sound or vibration. You won't feel any heat, either, probably because that is absorbed by its thick layers of protection.
Service and support
As with the Solo Pro, ioSafe backs the Solo G3 with a one-year data warranty that includes the company's Data Recovery Service, which takes care of getting the data back for you should disaster strike. In case the hard drive is so badly damaged by fire or water that an expensive forensic recovery service is required, the warranty will cover up to $2,500 of the cost. Customers can upgrade to a three- or five-year warranty for $50 and $100, respectively.
On top of that, the drive also comes with a three-year warranty against defects.
Other than that, you probably won't need much support for the drive. Nonetheless, the company's toll-free technical phone support can be reached from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday. At the company's Web site, you'll find FAQs, downloads, user guides, and other support-related materials.
Good-looking, fast, and quiet, the new Solo G3 makes an excellent backup solution for those who are in need of a device that keeps their data safe should disaster strike.