At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, ioSafe launched its ioSafe Solo - an external storage unit that claims to be able to withstand almost anything upto a nuclear explosion. To prove the point, the company invited us along to a demonstration of a drive being burnt, drowned, dropped, and run over with a whopping great big digger.
Here's the drive beforehand. It's available in 64GB, 128GB and 156GB varieties, and weighs a whopping 8kg. Inside is a SSD - a traditional HDD wouldn't be able to take the kind of punishment that ioSafe is about to subject its drive to. Before the apocalypse, the drive is loaded with a few photos taken of attendees at the demo.
The drive is placed on some firebricks and roasted at 700C with propane. The ioSafe team were shaking the propane cannister around to get it to burn hotter, but attempted to reassure us by saying that they'd had almost absolutely no accidents throughout the demo. We weren't reassured.
The device achieves its fireproofing while still being air-cooled by embedding water crystals in the heat-retardant coating. When it heats up, the crystals boil, turn to steam and expand the coating - closing up the gaps used in the aircooling process and blocking out the hot air. It's rated to last for 30 minutes of roasting, but CEO Robb Moore tells us that he reckons it could last more like 50 minutes.
After the roasting, the drive is pretty damn hot. To cool it off, the ioSafe guys dump it into the bucket of a massive yellow digger, which is then filled with water with a firehose. Roasted, then drowned - the drive is surely nothing but damp toast at this point?
To get the drive out of the water again, the digger lifts the bucket up about 20ft into the air and drops the contents out onto the tarmac of the parking lot that we're in - far south of the Las Vegas strip. The drive lands in the puddle with a crash, denting the casing considerably. The driver of the digger gets a glint in his eye, and revs the engine...
After a brief pause on the brink of destruction, the device is crushed. Absolutely crushed. The drive is now in a damp pile of what's left of the flame retardant coating. There's almost nothing left of the outer casing of the device. ioSafe's CEO, Robb Moore, picks the drive up with a grin and begins to brush off the muck that's plastered on the outside of the unit.
The SSD itself is encased in several centimetres of thick steel. The connection ports aren't too connectible by this point, so the casing has to be unscrewed manually and hooked up to a drive-reader device. If, once it's taken apart, the drive doesn't read, ioSafe promises that it'll spend $5000 per unit to send it to a professional data recovery service to get the data out.
The moment of truth. Does the drive still work after being blasted by 700-degree heat, dunked in water, dropped from 20ft up in the air, and then run over by a massive great-big bulldozer? Hit play on the video to find out...
If you're convinced, then the ioSafe Solo will ship internationally from February 2009 for $500, $750 and $1250 for the 64GB, 128GB and 256GB sizes. They work with Mac, Windows and Linux, and come with the aforementioned data-recovery promise. For more details, see www.hddfiresafe.com.