Product Review: ioSafe Rugged Portable Hard Drive

August 28, 2012

By Dan Havlik

Last month, I recommended a fast, new RAID system from WD designed to keep your photos safe with a redundant, dual hard-drive configuration. Now, here’s an ultra-rugged portable hard drive that will protect your images from rain, sand, salt water, chemicals, and from being dropped or crushed.

Called the Rugged Portable from ioSafe, the 500-gb version I tried was smaller than a paperback book and nearly as light. Best of all for photographers who need to back up their work on the go or like to carry around a small archive of their digital images, the Rugged Portable is built like a Brink’s truck.

The specs alone on this little drive are impressive: crush-proof to up to 5,000 pounds; drop-proof to up to 20 feet; and submergible down to 30 feet for up to three days. Add that to the aforementioned protection against the elements, and you have a tough little cookie. (Did I also mention that it’s fully functional at high altitudes of up to 15,000 feet?)

Though I wasn’t able to get to the beach to test the Rugged Portable’s salt-water resistance or climb a mountain to see how it performs at high altitude, I did bring it on a job and purposely banged it against every subway pole, stop sign and concrete sidewalk I could find along the way. Then I stepped on it a bunch of times in heavy work boots; held it in front of an open fire hydrant (it’s a hot summer here in New York City) and tossed it into a dusty soccer field in Central Park.

The result? Though it looked a little worse for wear, the Rugged Portable ran fine and all my images were safe and sound. Of course, this is all overkill—you likely won’t toss your hard drive into a dusty field in Central Park. But it should give photographers peace of mind that their images will be safe even if the hard drive experiences some significant wear and tear.

The Rugged Portable’s also fast. I tried out a FireWire 800 version with my iMac and transfer rates were 5 to 10 gb/s. On the other hand, the Rugged Portable is a 5400RPM drive so it’s not ideal if you plan to do any heavy video editing off of it. Stick to backing up and transporting your image and video files and you should be fine.

The Bottom Line
Worried about your portable hard drive getting rattled on your next assignment? The ultra-tough ioSafe Rugged Portable hard drive offers the protection you need and more.

Pros: A seriously tough and fast portable hard drive

Cons: Some of the protection may be overkill for most photographers

Price: $249 (500 mb, FireWire 800/USB 2.0);