Making your hard drives more secure seems to be the trendy thing to do these days. Within the past couple of months, I’ve been contacted about two similar products for protecting your external hard drives from fire and water—not to mention spilled coffee. I haven’t had the chance to test either product myself, so I can’t give you a firsthand account, but it seemed worth mentioning them in case fire hazards or water hazards are particularly high in your office.
The first is the MediaVault HD, which I first heard about in a LinkedIn question from Chuck Fetta of Office Furniture Warehouse asking for feedback from IT professionals. MediaVault’s main claim to fame is that it’s fireproof (up to a point, the point in fact being a UL 125°F 1 Hour rating), semi-waterproof (it will probably survive your sprinkler system), and locks to reduce the risk of theft (but you’re not supposed to bolt it down).
The IT professionals consulted suggested that online or other off-site backup was almost certain to be better protection against disasters (including fires) and that as an anti-theft device, the MediaVault didn’t look too impressive. I have to agree with that last objection. I have friends who had their safe stolen because it wasn’t built into their wall or floor. The MediaVault just isn’t large or heavy enough to deter thieves, even the casual sort who didn’t come prepared with a dolly and a moving truck.
The Ur-Guru also pointed out that any USB port was likely to melt off immediately in a fire (perhaps causing interesting electrical problems to your drives and your data). The backup advantage of leaving the device connected is countered by the security disadvantage. Better to get a genuine fireproof safe (the built-in kind that will still be there when nothing is left of your house but cinders) and put your external drives there. Of course, that does require an extra step: remembering to take the drives out of the safe to make the backups and put them back into the safe for storage.
The MediaVault HD ships with Seagate drives and Genie Backup Manager Pro. This is another product I’ve heard of but never used. You can get it with or without disaster recovery. Somewhere in my copious spare time, I’ll have to give it a try, though the Ur-Guru might not forgive me if I start cluttering up the machine he’s been spending the weekend reinstalling.
It seemed hardly a moment after the LinkedIn discussion of MediaVault that I heard from Brett Callow about ioSafe, but it was actually a month or so. Brett started out by asking for a link, as many companies do. I gave him the same answer I give everyone: “Why not write a guest post?” I did have to warn him that he’d have to disclose the fact that ioSafe is paying him to talk up their product, even though he’s not one of their employees. This is what he sent me.
Where should you keep your backups?
Backing up to an external hard drive is an easy and reasonably economical way to protect your data against loss due to computer failure — but it will not protect your data against disasters. Should you be unlucky enough to have a fire, chances are that both your computer and external drive will be toast. (And, if the flames don’t get it, the water from the fire department’s hoses almost certainly will!)
So, how can you minimize the risks? One solution would be to store your drive in a waterproof and fireproof safe when it’s not in use or to keep the drive at somebody else’s house. A much better solution, however, is to use more than one best-in-class solution to protect your data.
ioSafe makes a range of fireproof and waterproof drives which provide rock-solid protection for your critical data. The ioSafe Solo range are waterproof to 10 feet for 3 days and can withstand temperatures up to 1550°F for 30 minutes. The Solo can even be bolted to the floor to make theft more difficult. In short, it provides the best possible protection for data. Even if everything else in your house is lost to a disaster, at least your backups will still be safe and secure. With prices starting at $149.99 for a 500 GB model, ioSafes are a bit more expensive than other drives, but not by much. And, if you really value your data, the extra bucks are certainly money well spent.
But don’t stop there. Every mechanical device — hard drives included — will eventually fail. Consequently, you should be keeping your data in more than one spot. Unless you have an exceptionally large amount of data, the easiest way to do that is to use an online backup service. When choosing a service provider, don’t simply go with the cheapest option. Shop around, do some research and choose a well-established company. (A startup may offer you the best deal, but will they still be around in a week, month or year from now?)
By keeping more than one backup and keeping the backups in different locations, you’ll be protecting your data against pretty much every eventuality.
For more information about ioSafe, visit the company website.
This was a bit more of a sales pitch than I’d hoped for, paid post or not. Examination of the specs on the ioSafe site does, however, suggest that it’s likely to provide better protection against fire, water, and theft, than the MediaVault, and the price is not that much higher than for an ordinary external hard drive. If you’re prone to spilling your coffee, it might not be a bad investment.
But if you’re really concerned about fires and floods, you’re going to need more serious protection than this.