CES 2012: ioSafe
Author: Shawn Knight
Editor: Rutledge Feman
Date: 01-18-2012

ioSafe invited us to the tennis pavilion at the Las Vegas Country Club to demonstrate their new Rugged Portable Thunderbolt drive. Playing on the Thunderbolt theme, ioSafe set up the most convincing demo I have witnessed in the four years that I have attended CES.

Once we arrived on location, we essentially signed our lives away with a media release before being introduced to the company's new drive and a safety briefing for what we were about to witness. In a nutshell, ioSafe planned to load the Thunderbolt drive with custom data that we created then hand the drive over to Austin Richards (Dr. Megavolt) who would then put on a full body Faraday suit and expose the drive to nearly 1 million volts of electricity from a massive Tesla coil.

And that's exactly what happened. But before jumping into the shielded press tent, we were asked to put any electronics (notebooks, cell phones, etc) into a static-protected bag that was grounded with two large jumper cables. We were told that this was done to protect our technology from any stray EMI that might be emitted from the Tesla coil.

The demo itself was pretty neat, although upon further inspection we noted that the bolts of artificial electricity never actually came in direct contact with the drive that Dr. Megavolt was holding. Instead, the lightning touched the tips of his fingers and his hand; either way, the demo was visually impressive and I overhead CEO Rob Moore explain that some of the RAID controllers on the drives tested earlier in the week had failed. It's worth pointing out that ioSafe used a custom port cover on the drive to protect the connectors, otherwise everything would have been fried instantly.

We later learned that the path of the lightning is totally random and in some previous demos, Dr. Megavolt had to perform some pretty nifty maneuvers to get the electricity to come in contact with his hand / the driver rather than, say, his head.

After the demo, the press was invited back over to the testing table where Moore proceeded to reconnect the drive. But before doing so, he walked behind the setup and accidentally tripped over the jumper cables used to ground the box containing our precious electronics. The box conveniently fell right into a large tub of water that we suspected would be used later to test the drive's waterproof capabilities. A few expletives slipped and everyone in attendance realized their gadgets were now soaking wet – not cool.

That is, until Moore revealed that our data had actually been “backed up” during the Tesla coil demo and revealed the original box perfectly intact under a sheet nearby. Talk about instilling the importance of backing up your data – job well done, ioSafe.

After our heart rates returned to a manageable state, Moore eventually connected the drive to the test system and all of the data was fully intact and usable.

As for the drive itself, it can hold a single 2.5-inch drive or two solid state drives in either RAID0 or RAID1 configurations. One version featured two Intel 500 series SSDs in RAID1 and will be available in Q2 for a couple thousand dollars.

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