by Brian Beeler

ioSafe SoloPro USB 3.0 Review

ioSafe has long been in the business of providing external hard drives to those looking for a little more physical security for their data. And by little more, we mean protection from fire, water, bear attacks - that sort of thing. Their product line recently received an upgrade to USB 3.0, which along with eSATA connection, capacities up to 2TB and the aforementioned disaster-proofness, highlight the SoloPro. 

Out of the box, the SoloPro is a bit of a beast, a 15 pound beast to be specific. That's probably best, given the hard drive protection the case needs to offer. In terms of fire, the unit is rated to withstand half an hour at temps of 1550 degrees F. If it's water that you're worried about, the drive can handle up to 72 hours in 10 feet. While the casing itself isn't rated, the thing is rock-solid and should be able to handle quite a beating.

These are all good things, but even a device like this can fail after being beaten beyond its specs. In that case, ioSafe also includes 1 year of data recovery service for free (up to $2500), with plans that go up to 5 years for additional recovery protection. 

ioSafe Solo Pro USB 3.0 Specs

  • Single 3.5" 7200RPM SATA disk: 1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB capacities available
  • Dimensions: 5.0"W x 7.1"H x 11.0"L
  • Weight: 15 lbs
  • Quiet forced air cooling
  • USB 3.0 or eSATA/USB 2.0 Interface
  • Fire protection - 1550°F, 1/2 hour per ASTM E119
  • Flood / Submersion protection - to 10 feet water depth, 72 hours
  • Cable lock or floor mount, Kennsington Lock Compatible
  • 1 Year Data Recovery Service (DRS) Standard (3 and 5 year plans available)
  • 3 Year manufacturer's warranty for defects Standard (5 year available with purchase of 5 year DRS upgrade)
  • Up to $2500 included for forensic recovery service
  • Voltage: 80 ~ 264 VAC at 50/60 HZ
  • Typical Power Consumption: < 25W
  • Operating: 0-35° C (95°F)
  • Non-operating: 0-1550°F, 1/2 hr per ASTM E119
  • Operating Humidity: 20% - 80% (non-condensing)
  • Non-operating Humidity: 100%, Full water immersion, 10 feet, 3 days

Aesthetics

To say the ioSafe SoloPro isn’t a huge external hard drive would be a blatant lie… this thing is huge. Roughly the size and weight of a 4-drive NAS, the ioSafe has the look and feel of a tank. With a thick metal shell and massive weight, the SoloPro offers two things most external drives don’t; water and fire resistance. ioSafe rates the SoloPro for 3 days of submersion or 30 minutes of being roasted at 1550°F. While most drives might let out a single air-bubble or melt into a molten mass, the SoloPro protects your data no matter what unsavory conditions might crop up. If there was ever a doomsday-safe external drive, this is it.

The body is thick sheet metal and held together with screws. The frame is durable enough that the bottom has a tab sticking out with pre-drilled “mounting tabs” to bolt the drive down to a desk, adding another layer of theft protection. From what we could tell, not even jumping on the case seemed to bother it. If you are concerned about a falling structure crushing your data, you should feel safe knowing it should hold up very well if the building around the drive collapses. The only aspect of this drive that feels and looks normal is the connection and power interface on the back of the drive. It accepts a standard full-size USB 3.0 connector for data transfers and a bullet-style AC adapter.

Setup/In Use

The ioSafe SoloPro is super simple to setup. It comes preformatted to work on all systems. While the interface supports full USB 3.0 speeds, it is backwards compatible for all older systems. After connecting the drive to our test rig it was recognized, mounted, and working as an external drive in seconds.

Buyers of the SoloPro are also encouraged to fully register the external drive as soon as it arrives to start the data protection warranty. This is the plan that covers up to $2,500 worth of data recovery if something were to happen to the drive (fire, water damage, crushed by monster truck).

To maintain its water and fire-proof status the ioSafe SoloPro is pretty much sealed and non-upgradeable. Yes, with some work you might be able to crack the layers of protection apart, but at that point you have pretty much defeated the entire purpose of this drive. We suggest getting the highest capacity available that fits within your budget, and don’t expect to upgrade outside of completely replacing the unit as a whole.

Benchmarks

As a USB 3.0 external drive, the ioSafe SoloPro offers much greater speeds compared to USB 2.0 devices. In our tests with the 1TB version of this drive, we saw some pretty impressive numbers, although slightly lower than what you might find over an eSATA connection. ioSafe sells multiple versions of the SoloPro though, including a USB 2.0/eSATA model.

2MB Sequential Transfer MB/s 73.3MB/s 87.07MB/s
2MB Random Transfer MB/s 53.76MB/s 53.59MB/s 
4K Random Transfer MB/s 0.26MB/s 0.40MB/s
4K Random Transfer IO 66.41 IOps 103.17 IOps
4K Write Latency 9.6ms  25.99ms 


Power

The ioSafe SoloPro is externally powered from a Dura Micro Inc. power adapter rated to 12 volts at 2 amps (24 watts peak). Under normal operating conditions the drive consumed 11 watts at idle, 12 watts with a sequential 2MB transfer, and spiked upwards of 25watts from the wall when first turned on.

Warranty

The ioSafe SoloPro offers an excellent three year warranty program, including data recovery service for 1 year, with the purchase of the drive. Currently very few, if any, external drives include forensic data recovery services off the bat, as it can be extremely expensive. ioSafe covers up to $2,500 towards the recovery of your data and also gives you the option of extending the included one year plan to three or five years.

Conclusion

For small businesses or even home users who need sensitive files kept out of harm’s way, the ioSafe SoloPro offers a few things most external drives don’t. The SoloPro is fire, water, and theft proof, not to mention crush-proof from its rugged thick metal shell. If you need a safe place to store financial records, family photos, school papers, or even irreplaceable family recopies, the SoloPro gives buyers a cost-effective alternative to offsite backup solutions. The ioSafe SoloPro USB 3.0 and USB 2.0/eSATA models are priced starting at $250 for 1TB, $319 for 1.5TB, and $419 for 2TB of storage, which is very cost effective when you think of the value of data that could be lost in bad weather, building fires, or even casual theft. Overall I can’t think of a better external storage solution besides sticking a bare drive in a Ziploc baggie in your local bank’s safe deposit box.

Pros

  • Compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA
  • Good performance for large file transfers
  • Apocalypse proof external storage

Cons

  • Weighs more than a 4-drive NAS
  • Not upgradeable

Bottom Line

The ioSafe SoloPro USB 3.0 external hard drive is a great companion for anyone that needs a safe, local backup option. We loved it as a backup for sensitive files on our in-house NAS; caring for our critical files with its tough-to-penetrate shell. Coupled with the data recovery service, we sleep pretty easy knowing the ioSafe can be bolted to the floor and is ready to withstand fire, water and the occasional bear. 

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