If you want the toughest portable hard drive around -- at least the toughest I've field tested -- you'll want ioSafe's Rugged Portable (http://www.iosafe.com). And now it's available in a FireWire 800 version, which is a lot faster than the USB 2.0 models.
With apologizes to Stanley Kubrick, the Rugged Portable boasts Full Metal Jacket Technology. It's CNC-machined from a billet of solid meta. The aluminum enclosure is purportedly crush-resistant to 2,500 pounds and the titanium alloy enclosure to 5,000 pounds. I can't verify those claims, but I have stood on the ioSafe drive and jumped on it with my 160-pound frame, and it showed no signs of damage.
HydroSafe Technology purportedly protects data during immersion up to three days in freshwater or saltwater to a depth of 10 feet (the aluminum version) or 30 feet (SSD or titanium version). Again, I didn't wait that long. But leaving the aluminum Rugged Portable in a sink full of water for three hours didn't phase it.
The folks at ioSafe says the Ruggested Portable's EnviroSafe Technology protects your data from continuous exposure to UV, blowing sand, blowing dust, rain, salt fog, icing or freezing rain for up 24 hours. Again, I didn't test it to those extremes. But the hard drive didn't seem to mind a hot day followed by a rainy Tennessee night -- even when my dog saw fit to move it from one spot to another, more muddy, location.
The Rugged Portable boasts full suspension in all six axes of motion. It's optimized for data loss protection from drop and shock of 20-foot drops (SSD version) and 10-foot drops (250-750 GB HDD versions, 1TB HDD requires optional drive skin). I dropped the 500GB version from about 10 feet, and my data was still intact.
The theft resistant Kensington Lock compatible slot can be used to secure the drive to almost any immovable object with optional Kensington locks.
What's more, in the event of a disaster, every ioSafe Rugged Portable comes with a Data Recovery Service, which you must activate. It's a "one-time, any reason" data recovery service to help you get your data back whenever you decide to exercise this option. It includes shipping, replacement hardware, ioSafe services and up to US$5,000 for third party forensic recovery if required. The external hard drive is compatible with Macs and PCs.
The Rugged Portable line isn't inexpensive. The 500GB version costs US$188; the 1GB version is $376. Yes, you can get less costly hard drives, but none tougher than the Rugged Portable. If John McClane needed an external hard drive that would die hard, this is the one he would pick.
Rating: 9 out of 10
-- Dennis Sellers