Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Protected and shock-resistant external HDD: is there any sense?

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An external HDD is a practical solution if you need to take your entire media library with you on a trip. However, such devices are usually very sensitive to damage and dirt. Therefore, protected external drives have been developed for active users. In this article, we will talk about them in detail.

Types of protection: levels and standards
The task of protected external “hard drives” is to save the internal stuffing from all kinds of emergencies: falls or spilled water. Manufacturers create a variety of cases that are severely tested during production. Multiple falls, water and sand ingress – protected HDDs go through all the circles of technical hell. As a result, the device is assigned a security rating. It is designated by the abbreviation IP (Ingress Protection Rating) and two numbers: the first is responsible for protection against foreign objects, the second for protection against liquid.

There are seven levels of protection against foreign objects:

0 – no protection;
1 – protection against the penetration of large particles (at least 50 mm in size);
2 – against the penetration of solid particles with a size of at least 12.5 mm;
3 – from the penetration of solid particles with a size of at least 2.5 mm;
4 – from the penetration of solid particles with a size of at least 1 mm;
5 – dustproof: a small amount of dust that has penetrated into the device does not affect operation;
6 – Dustproof: Full protection against dust penetration inside.
As a rule, a rubber plug provides complete protection against dust. It tightly closes the connector for connection. And the rest of the body simply does not have additional holes.

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There are nine levels of liquid protection:

0 – no protection;
1 – protection against vertical drops;
2 – from drops at an angle of 15 degrees;
3 – protection from rain;
4 – protection against splashes in any direction;
5 – from jets from any direction;
6 – from a wave or a strong water jet;
7 – from a short dive to a depth of 1m;
8 – Fully waterproof when fully immersed.
Sometimes another level of protection is added to this scale – 9 or 9K. This is how the HDD is protected from hot water jets. Such discs, for example, can be washed under the tap (no matter how strange it may sound).

The case of discs protected from water is sealed. It has special plugs in places where water can get inside.

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The shock resistance of the drive is usually determined using the MIL-STD 810 standard, which came from the army. The name of the standard is written with a Roman numeral at the end: it indicates the type of tests performed. Under the number IV, the most massive test is hidden – a multiple fall on a hard surface.

The housing protects the HDD from mechanical damage (falling and squeezing). It can be made from rubberized or metal materials. There are models with a combined design – the edges of the case are made of rubber, and everything else is made of durable plastic.

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It is worth remembering: no type of protection can guarantee one hundred percent survival of the HDD. The drive can be dropped from a height of several meters and remain operational. At the same time, it can fall off the table during operation and fail without external damage. This is due to the internal structure of the hard drive.

How an external HDD works

An external hard drive is a typical USB bridge HDD . The internal arrangement resembles a vinyl player. The engine turns the plates with information, and a special device reads the magnetized sectors. But unlike a turntable, the magnetic heads float above the platter.

The main weak point of a hard drive is the head unit. When the drive falls, the read head touches the plate and destroys the ferromagnetic layer. This, in fact, disables the disk. The most dangerous impact of the disk during operation. When the drive is not in use, the read heads are parked away from the platter.

Protected HDDs are more shock resistant than conventional models. Part of the impact energy is absorbed by the body elements. Flexible suspensions of magnetic heads reduce the likelihood of damage to the ferromagnetic coating. But it was not possible to completely solve the problem: an unsuccessful fall can disable the HDD at one time.

Who can use protected HDDs
Not everyone needs a protected HDD . Stationary use and rare carrying with you is not a reason to overpay for additional protection. Who really needs such a disk?

lovers of outdoor activities and extreme sports;
travelers and photographers;
people with small children and pets;
people who travel frequently.
Protected external HDDs are an excellent solution for those who always want to have a capacious data storage at hand. Advanced security features reduce the risk of device failure (and therefore loss of information). But you shouldn’t rely on them entirely. Careful handling is the main guarantee of the safety of the drive. Also, if you constantly work with the drive in really tough conditions, take a closer look at external SSD drives . They also have protected models, while being more tenacious. The reason is simple: unlike HDDs, these drives have no moving parts.

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