written by: Mark Muller•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 10/15/2010
Here we compare ioSafe Solo and Seagate BlackArmor, two secure external hard disks serving the purposes of withstanding natural disasters including fire and water as well as physical theft protection, or have built-in encrypted partitions plus easy backup software also doing system state backups.
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Both Seagate and ioSafe, a much less well known company, offer a family of scalable business-grade storage devices starting at 500 GB capacity. Here we focus on Seagate BlackArmor WS110 and ioSafe Solo - similar products that are well suited to deployment in small business environments and by high-end users looking for disaster-proof or secure hard drives.
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Fire and Water Resistance
Seagate BlackArmor, discussed in Bright Hub’s review here, does not have a protective measures against natural disasters such as flood and fire. The ioSafe Solo which can also withstand temperatures up to 1550º for 30 minutes and 10 feet of water for up to 36 hours. Last but not least, the Solo can be bolted-down to secure it against theft.
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Seagate BlackArmor ships with a five years limited warranty, whereas ioSafe Solo warranty is 3 years but can, for an additional cost, be extended to 5 years. The Solo, discussed in Bright Hub’s article ioSafe Solo Review: The World's Best External Hard Drive, also includes a Data Recovery Service under which ioSafe will provide post-disaster data recovery assistance, irrespective of the nature of the disaster (fire, flood or plain old disk failure). The Disaster Recovery Service runs for 1 year from purchase, but can be extended up to 5 years.
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Backup and Encryption
Seagate BlackArmor includes SafetyDrill+, an-easy-to-use backup solution capable of backing up your data or the entire system if you have Microsoft Windows. The BlackArmor also lets you save sensitive information on an encrypted special partition of the disk known as the Backup Secured Zone. In contrast, the ioSafe has neither built-in backup or encryption capabilities.
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Both the Solo and the Seagate BlackArmor have drive spin rates of 7200 RPM. The BlackArmor can connect via either eSata or USB, whereas the ioSafe Solo is limited to USB. Capacities currently range from 500 GB to 1.5 TB for the Solo, and the WS110 is capable of storing either 1 or 2 TBs of data. It should be noted that ioSafe Solo is about five times as heavy as the BlackArmor external hard disk solution.
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Seagate BlackArmor WS110 carries a price tag of $159.99 whereas ioSafe Solos sells for $229.99. The price indicated is for the 1 TB devices with basic warranties.
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The Bottom Line
The BlackArmor and Solo are both excellent solutions. However, in most small business (SMB) and home environments, data protection will probably be a much more important need than data encryption (which can easily be achieved using a third-party backup solution Acronis True Image). The ioSafe Solo's unique disaster protection features and Data Recovery Service, therefore, make it the clear winner in this head-to-head.