- Speedy performance.
- Highly ruggedized against crush, immersion, shock, environment, altitude, and chemicals.
- One year of data recovery service protection.
- Backup and encryption software included.
- Bulky and heavy.
- Short warranty.
- No USB-C.
If you and your files need to venture into the unknown, the ioSafe Rugged Portable SSD might be the trusty, nearly indestructible companion you’re looking for. But for the average user, there are plenty of durable, reasonably priced external drives with higher capacity.
Design and Features
“An aircraft black box for mobile data” is how ioSafe describes the Rugged Portable SSD, and that’s accurate. The drive, which is made from billet-machined black aluminum, measures 1.0 by 3.9 by 5.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.05 pounds, which is quite beefy for your average portable drive. That being said, it’s about what you’d expect for a ruggedized drive. The LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt is slightly smaller at 1 by 3.5 by 5.5 inches, while the LaCie Rugged RAID$379.00 at Walmart.com is even chunkier at 1.3 by 3.75 by 6 inches. While you probably wouldn’t be able to carry around the Rugged Portable in your pocket, it should fit easily into a travel bag.
At the top side of the drive there’s a USB 3.0 connector, a disk activity light, and a Kensington lock slot, while the bottom has four rubber feet to prevent slipping. The front also features the ioSafe logo in the bottom right-hand corner. The Rugged Portable SSD also comes with a black hard-shell carrying case with a matte finish. On the inside, there’s a mesh pocket for storing the included USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 cables, as well as a lanyard. On the other side, you can tuck the Rugged Portable under an elastic band. The case itself feels well made, but it has a strong new-car smell that didn’t disappear, even after a week. It is a little disappointing that the ioSafe Rugged Portable isn’t USB-C compatible, as it somewhat limits the drive’s life span. Newer laptops and devices have increasingly adopted USB-C as a standard, so it’s possible that you’ll have to invest in some dongles if you plan on using the Rugged Portable for more than a few years.
The Rugged Portable SSD comes formatted for NTFS, which means you can just plug it into any Windows system straight out of the box. But Apple fans need not worry, as it can be easily reformatted to work with Macs. As far as capacity goes, the drive comes in two flavors: 500GB, like our review unit, and 1TB ($1,199.99). And while SSDs are much more costly than traditional hard drives for the same amount of storage, the ioSafe Rugged Portable is noticeably pricier. So what does all this extra money get you? A massive feature set.
First, the ioSafe Rugged Portable is crush resistant up to 2,500 pounds, can be immersed for up to three days in fresh or salt water up to a depth of 10 feet, and can survive drops of up to 10 feet. On top of all that, it can be immersed in up to 12 inches of aircraft or diesel fuel, hydraulic fluids, or oils for one hour. It will also operate at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and can withstand continuous UV exposure, blowing sand and dust, rain, salt fog, icing, or freezing rain for up to 24 hours. I’m not sure under what circumstances you’d find your drive submerged in aircraft fuel, but if that doesn’t sound like outside the realm of possibility? The ioSafe Rugged Portable is one of the few portable drives out there equipped to handle that scenario.
If you somehow managed to lose all the data on your Rugged Portable, it also comes with one year of Data Recovery Service and a one-year warranty. Also included with the Rugged Portable SSD is the Genie Timeline Pro software, which allows you to back up your files and enable 256-bit AES encryption. The Data Recovery Service is a one-time, any-reason service that covers accidental deletion, damage, disasters, and hardware failure, as well as up to $5,000 toward third-party forensic recovery. While the Data Recovery Service is nice, especially considering how much the Rugged Portable SSD costs, the one-year warranty is a little frustrating. You can upgrade to a three- or five-year warranty plan, but that will cost you an additional $50 or $100.
While the Rugged Portable’s defining feature is its durability, it’s decently speedy over a USB 3.0 connection. It’s not as fast as some other SSDs out there, but considering it lacks USB-C compatibility, it does quite well.
On our PCMark7 test, it scored a respectable 4,573 points. That lags behind the SanDisk Extreme 900 (4,980 points over USB 3.0), the SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD (5,649), the Samsung Portable SSD T3 (4,908), and the Oyen Digital MiniPro 3.1 USB-C Portable Solid-State Drive (4,830). But it is faster than VisionTek USB Pocket SSD$259.68 at Amazon (4,127) and the Adata SE730 External SSD$119.98 at Amazon (3,076).
A good look at how these numbers translate into everyday use is our file transfer test, which evaluates how quickly a drive can copy a 1.22GB file. Since SSDs routinely complete this test in less than 5 seconds using USB-C–to–USB-C cable, the scores discussed here were achieved over a USB 3.0 connection. The Rugged Portable completed the test in 7 seconds, a respectable but not mind-blowing time. The SanDisk Extreme 900, for example, completed the test in 5 seconds, while the Samsung T3$799.99 at Amazon did it in 6 seconds. The drive took the same amount of time as the SanDisk Extreme 500, another USB-3.0-only SSD.
For all the Rugged Portable’s virtues, there’s no getting around one simple fact: It’s very expensive. On a per-gigabyte basis, the 500GB drive costs $1.30. Essentially, you’re paying a premium for a hyper-ruggedized drive and an above-average data recovery service. But the SanDisk Extreme 900 is priced about $150 less and offers twice the capacity, for a price of about 52 cents per gigabyte. The 2TB Samsung T3 is even more expensive overall, but only costs 42 cents per gigabyte—plus it’s durable enough to survive everyday wear and tear. Even ruggedized rivals like the 500GB LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt weigh in at about $1 per gigabyte, while the LaCie Rugged RAID is even more affordable at about 10 cents per gigabyte.
Whether or not you should buy the ioSafe Rugged Portable SSD really comes down to your priorities. If your data needs to keep up with your rough-and-tumble lifestyle, then it’s worth considering despite the $650 price tag. But if you’re just an everyday klutz, then cheaper SSDs with some shock resistance, like the SanDisk Extreme 900 or the Samsung T3, offer greater capacity for a lower price.