We've talked before about how tough it can be to find the perfect data storage solution. You want something safe and accessible, but those two factors tend to be mutually exclusive. ioSafe thinks it has the solution, with an external hard drive with cloud connectivity that's just about as indestructible as it gets.
Let's go over the pros and cons of local storage (in the form of an external RAID) as opposed to cloud storage (in the form of one of those giant backup services):
- Pro: You control all of your data.
- Pro: Fast access over your local network or a direct connection.
- Pro: Need more storage? Simply buy bigger drives.
- Con: Anything that happens to your house happens to your data, whether it's fire, flood, or theft.
- Con: Remote accessibility can be tricky.
- Pro: Protects your data from nearly everything except global thermonuclear war.
- Pro: Your data is accessible from anywhere with Internet.
- Con: Someone else has control of your data.
- Con: It costs lots of money to store lots of stuff.
- Con: Uploading and downloading is a pain in the butt.
Now, as the headline says, I'm one of those people who's really paranoid about data. Specifically, I'm paranoid about pictures and videos that are priceless and irreplaceable. So what I'm doing right now is covering all my bases by utilizing a RAID 1 at home plus a cloud backup service. Managing all of my data this way is about as annoying as your editor telling you that he's been "reviewing" Borderlands 2 for the past week without you, and trust me, that's annoying.
ioSafe, a company that specializes in making disaster protected hard drives, wants to combine all the advantages of cloud storage with all the advantages of local storage in this rather
ugly looking functional looking black box called the N2. The N2 is first and foremost a RAID box. Inside are two hard drives that mirror one another, meaning that if (or when) one of them eats itself, all of your data is safe and sound on the other one. The N2 is also one of those newfangled networked hard drives that offers remote accessibility, effectively creating a personal cloud for all your stuff, and for local access it comes with either USB 3.0 or FireWire 800.
So that's all fine and dandy, but this isn't an improvement over anything that isn't already available. Where the N2 stands out is the way in which it tackles the biggest disadvantage of a local hard drive: vulnerability. It does this by being nearly indestructible. Here is what you should feel absolutely free to do to this drive:
- Set it on fire. The N2 can withstand 1,550 degrees for half an hour, which is enough time to panic, stop panicking, have a popsicle, panic again, and then hit it with a fire extinguisher while calling the fire department.
- Drown it. The N2 will happily relax at 10 feet in your swimming pool (fresh or salt water) for up to 72 hours.
- Try and steal it. With an optional kit, you can bolt the N2 to the floor and secure the drives inside with a padlock, and the whole thing can be encrypted too.
Seriously, this thing is a beast. Here's a cutaway that goes into more detail:
Somewhat unusually, the N2 isn't for sale. ioSafe is funding it through an Indiegogo campaign, which has a minimum goal of $150,000. I guess this is a way for the company to take pre-orders without having to commit to actually producing a product: if $150,000 worth of people don't want one of these things, ioSafe doesn't have to make any of 'em. To get on the list, you'll need to commit $500, which will get you an empty N2 box that's ready to ingest two drives of up to four terabytes each. It's not cheap, that's for sure, but just look at it this way: how much would you pay to get decades of digital pictures back after they've been destroyed?
If you want to be able to simply stop worrying about the safety and security of your data, we'd say that the ioSafe N2 is definitely worth a look, and our guess is that if you're one of those people who thinks they need one of these, the price won't be too big of an object.