My sister-in-law has recently picked up photography (and she’s awesome!), so my brother has been asking me about a backup and archive system for her photos. I’ve been piecing some options together specific to her business as a photographer, which will become a series of posts here on the blog. During this process, he sent me a link to the ioSafe G3, obviously impressed with how indestructible it appears to be.
What makes it awesome:
- Fireproof – Protects data from loss up to 1550°F for 1/2 hour per ASTM E119
- Waterproof – Protects data from loss up to 10ft for 72 hours
- Data Recovery Service – Up to $2500 for forensic recovery
- USB 3.0/USB 2.0 Connectivity – Mac and PC Compatible
What makes is, um, not so awesome:
Data recovery service. ioSafe includes a basic Data Recovery Service with their products. But depending on Data Recovery as one of your pillars of backup is not realistic. The best comparison I can make is not getting smoke detectors or fire extinguishers for your house because the fire department is a short drive away (and lets hope their budget hasn’t been cut). You’re insuring yourself after failure instead of protecting yourself from the initial failure. As I’ve experienced time and time again, data recovery services can’t always recover everything. If there’s been fire or water damage, as opposed to just a run of the mill hard drive failure, it’s even less likely. And with the recovery coverage ioSafe offers, you’ll easily surpass your deductible in the process.
Only a single hard drive in that huge box. This “backup” has no internal redundancy. Hard drives will fail. It’s not “if”, but “when”. For me, the typical hard drive lasts about 3 years. I’ve had some last less than a week, and some work 24/7 for 8+ years. But the average I’ve experienced is 3 years. So you’re dealing with a box that WILL FAIL internally, while it’s main feature is protection from events with a likelihood that’s far far lower. In the U.S., from 2005 to 2009, one in 310 households reported a home fire. Floods are more likely, depending on where you live. According to the USGS, “If you live in a 100-year floodplain, there is more than a 1 in 4 chance that you will be flooded during your 30-year mortgage. During a 30-year mortgage period you are 27 times more likely to experience a flood than having a fire.” These are tragic events, but still much less likely than a hard drive failure. All hard drives will fail. Not all houses will burn or flood. Since floods and fire can still happen, you need to have another layer of backup, and not rely on your hard drive “making it through”.
It makes you think you’re safe when you’re not. This only offers one layer of protection – a single hard drive – in a super bomber case. That’s all. Your backup plan can begin here, but it can’t end here. When you’re talking about your family photos, your legal documents, or your business, you have to take a multi-pronged approach. I’m a fan of the 3-2-1 Rule:
- 3 copies of any important file (a primary and two backups)
- 2 different media types (such as hard drive and optical media), to protect against different types of hazards
- 1 copy should be stored offsite
Using the 3-2-1 Rule, this hard drive could be the primary drive, or the in-house backup. But you will also want an out-of-house backup, such as Blu-Ray discs in a safe deposit box. Personally, I wouldn’t use this as my primary drive since it would be too slow. It may be USB3.0, but it’s only a single hard drive, so it wouldn’t be fast enough for what I need. I think it would be pointless to use as my in-house backup, because it would be identical to the out-of-house backup, which is already protected from fire and flood since it’s in a safe deposit box. So for me, this drive protects against things that are not threats because I’m already protected with another layer of my backup.
Summary: The ioSafe truly is an engineering marvel, putting a working hard drive in a box that’s fairly fire and water proof, but it doesn’t solve the main problem of hard drive failure. To me, it makes things worse because of the false sense of security it provides. It can work only as one pillar within an entire backup plan, not as the entire plan. Looking at it that way, its main features of being fire and waterproof don’t add any value for me.
Full Disclosure: Unlike other reviews on this blog, I didn’t actually review this particular product in person. I instead addressed its design and purpose. Testing to see if it really survives a fire or immersion in water isn’t really the point, as far as I’m concerned.