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Can This Hard Drive Withstand Electrocution From 1 Million Volt Tesla Coil?

Can This Hard Drive Withstand Electrocution From 1 Million Volt Tesla Coil?

"We're a little extreme. We're very passionate about protecting data."

ioSafe, a company that makes "disaster-proof" hardware and touts its technology as like a "little black box" for hard drives, has conducted some pretty extreme demonstrations to showcase the beating its products can withstand. CNET reports that for the last three years at the Consumer Electronics Show, ioSafe has put its Rugged Portable devices to the test, but this year was, shall we say, shockingly unlike the others.

To unveil its Rugged Portable Thunderbolt hard drive, ioSafe felt it had to stay true to the product's namesake and test it with a 1 million volt Tesla coil.

Watch the raw footage of the test from CNET here:

Here's a cleaner cut demo provided by ioSafe to MSNBC:


CNET describes that the demo took place with several safety precautions in a large warehouse: it was in a cage; the person holding the drive wore a Faraday suit; and spectators put their electronic devices in an antistatic bag as a precaution.

At the end of the demo, the drive worked. But here's why: CNET explains that because the drive's case is made out of metal and the person holding it was wearing a Faraday suit, that drive was immediately grounded during its electrocution, and therefore not in danger of being damaged. So what was the point CEO Robb Moore wanted to make about the drive if he wasn't really showcasing its durability? CNET has more:

And the mystery was solved with Robb's next trick, which was completely unexpected and the best part of the demo.

Prior to the event, he had asked all of us -- the invited members of the press -- to put our beloved computers and other electronics (except for cameras) into a large antistatic bag for "safety purposes." This bag was put on a table and grounded to the floor with two large wires. When the part with the Tesla coil was done and right before Moore was about to hook the Thunderbolt drive back to the MacBook, he, with finesse, "accidentally" tripped on the wires and pulled the entire bag into a large basin full of water that just happened to be nearby (which I originally thought would be used to test the drive against water submersion). Half of the bag sank almost instantly, causing at least one journalist to scream, "Oh my God! My work laptop! All of my work!" and everyone else to feel very uneasy, to say the least.

Leaving the crowd a few long seconds for the uneasiness to grow and sink in, Moore then showed us another identical bag, hidden in a corner, and said "Well, we have the backup, guys!" As it turned out, the original bag, which housed our precious tools, was swapped out with an identical bag when we were busy watching the Tesla coil. The whole fancy show was just a diversion for Moore's last trick to show us how vulnerable our data could be. And that's the gist of the demo. And yes, the drive was later indeed plugged in and the data was found intact.

While the Tesla demo was just for show Moore's point was to make people understand the need for data protection. CNET reports that the 500GB Rugged Portable Thunderbolt will be available later in 2012 for about $500 and comes with up to $5,000 worth of data recovery protection should anything happen to the device.

While the hard drive may not have been subjected to real physical damage this year, PC World notes that in previous years, ioSafe has put its products to physical tests such as making it the target for 12 gauge shotgun and trying to flatten it with steamroller.

ioSafe conducted the shotgun test again this year. Here's the footage from that test:

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