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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

ioSafe Rugged Portable hard drive survives five shotgun blasts, still works



Last week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I was invited to a unique demo. ioSafe, a manufacturer of external hard drives and servers and data recovery service, introduced their Rugged Portable hard drive and took members of the media to a gun range, asking them to take a shot at their new baby. You heard me right; provided with some ear muffs, eye protection, safety instructions and a 12-gauge shotgun, people took turns peppering the drive with buckshot.


There have been plenty of times in my life when I've had a hard drive I wanted to shoot, blow up, stomp-on or throw out the window. It seems none of us back up our precious photos, documents, videos and other artifacts like we should. Don't we all know someone who has lost something important because a hard drive failed? Well, that's ioSafe's point.

CEO Robb Moore greeted us at the American Shooters range and spent some time boasting about the drive's construction. The one we used for the demo was made from a solid piece of 1/8-inch thick billet aluminum (there is a titanium version too). It has crush protection, chemical protection, immersion protection (for up to 10 feet for three days), shock protection and altitude protection. It comes with data recovery service too and Moore is so sure you won't need it, they pledge to spend $5,000 for an outside recovery service to save your data if needed. About the only thing not on the protection list is Godzilla protection and if Godzilla stomped your drive, I have a feeling Moore would cover it.

As part of the demo Moore took pictures of us and put them on the drive to prove no trickery was involved. He dunked the drive in an aquarium then blew out the connection port and the drive was fine. He squished it in a vice and it wasn't fazed. We were all there to see the main attraction, so he wasted no time bringing it to us. With help from range manager Jeffrey Yerger, Moore put the shotgun to his shoulder and delivered the first blast. The drive flung about wildly when hit and the case was peppered with pockmarks, but the shot did not penetrate and the drive still worked. One by one people took their turns and everyone hit the drive. After five blasts it was still working. Amazing!

I was the last to take a turn but they were out of shells. So they handed me a full automatic M-16 and after brief instruction from Yerger, I took my shot. Peering through the holographic sight I put the red dot on the drive and gently squeezed the trigger, firing two rounds. The bullet penetrated the case and blew the back plate right off. The drive was dead.


Moore was quick to say they don't advertise their drives as indestructible. He knew the M-16 would take it out, so kudos to him for handing us high-powered weapons, putting his product out there and daring us to break it. How many companies would do that?

So even though I killed the drive it's important to not miss the point. That little hard drive survived a dunking in water, being squished in a vice and five shotgun blasts. If you're planning on dishing out more abuse than that to any hard drive, DO NOT store anything important on it. Even a tough little drive like this one has its limits.

(Thanks to Robb Moore for making the video of me taking my shot.)

[Last modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011 10:43am]


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