Past reviews in Tape Op have covered external hard drive storage systems with RAID capability for redundancy in case of drive failure. Even if you're doing daily backups, the loss of one day's worth of audio recordings could be disastrous, and a RAID can reduce the possibility of such a disaster occurring. The SoloPRO, on the other hand, protects against a different kind of disaster - loss of the enclosing room or building due to fire, water damage, or collapse (all three of which will likely happen if a building fire is big enough).
I first heard of ioSafe a few years ago, when various tech websites started publishing evidence of the extreme abuse that ioSafe's products could survive. A web search today will yield countless videos (some of which are downright hilarious) of ioSafe's hard drives being torched, submerged, thrown by children, shot with all sorts of weaponry, run over by trucks, attacked with power tools, and so on. (A number of these videos involve municipal fire departments, as you might suspect.) Although I consider myself pretty good at blowing up stuff (um, don't ask), there's enough independent testimony on YouTube to convince me that these drives do indeed live up to their marketing, and therefore, I put my ioSafe drive to real use, as opposed to abuse.
My SoloPRO, a 1 TB eSATA model, is connected to the Synology 1812+ DiskStation NAS in my server room. The bays of the DiskStation are half-filled, with four 3 TB drives configured in a Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), and all of the computers on my network are backed up to it regularly. The ioSafe is then used to back up the most crucial information from the SHR volume - including finance, insurance, and legal data for my studio and my various businesses. Obviously, my SoloPRO doesn't have the capacity to store a copy of everything that's held on the SHR, but it wasn't difficult for me to choose the directories that are now backed up to it automatically as they change. If more capacity is required, the SoloPRO is available with 2, 3, or 4 TB mechanisms inside.
If you don't have a separate server room or computer booth, is the SoloPRO quiet enough to place next to your DAW? Yes and no. It's the quietest device equipped with a drive mechanism in my server room, and its fan makes roughly the same amount of noise as a Mac Pro's. Therefore, if a Mac Pro doesn't bother you, the SoloPRO shouldn't either. With that said, the Mac Pro at my desk sits in an IsoBox, and I wouldn't want to cut vocals in a room with a Mac Pro or SoloPRO alongside me. In any case, if you're using the SoloPRO for backup storage only, it's easy enough to turn it on and off as necessary. If you do want a quieter drive, ioSafe's Solo G3 is fanless.
What happens if you do suffer a catastrophe that burns, floods, or crushes the SoloPRO? Included with every ioSafe drive is no-questions-asked Data Recovery Service (DRS). DRS is available even if the drive is a victim of something less exciting - like the drive mechanism failing or accidental deletion of files. With the SoloPRO line, you even get advanced replacement. DRS is free for one year, and a five- year contract is available for purchase.
Realizing that much of the data that we create, collect, and store is irreplaceable, I am dumbfounded when people tell me that they don't back up their computers, servers, or even their mobile devices. And even when people do regular backups, a backup regimen that keeps the backups in the same building as the originals isn't a complete strategy. Sure there are cloud storage services, but these are only cost-effective for small amounts of data. My studio and office are in a separate building from my home. The two buildings are connected by fiber-optic cable, so I mirror data between the buildings. I also have a tape library connected to one of my servers. But, I'll admit that I don't have the time to run tape backups for offsite storage as often as I should, and I do worry that a major fire or flood could take down both buildings. Now, with the confidence that my most important data is being copied to my ioSafe SoloPRO, I sleep a little more soundly. ($349.99 MSRP and up; www.iosafe.com) -AH