Slideshow: best drives for the college student
A student's life can be tough. You’re on the move all the time, and wherever you are—class, lab, or library—you need quick access to your data. A portable hard drive with a USB connection would be a great solution, but most of them are too flimsy to survive the bike accidents, spilled beverages, and random mishaps that seem to come with college life. We've got a few solutions: Portable hard drives tough enough to survive school, plus a couple of extra-sturdy desktop drives that'll handle the slings and arrows of dorm life.
Transcend StoreJet 25M
The Transcend StoreJet 25M is a great drive for the student on-the-go. The 5,400RPM, USB 2.0 bus-powered drive, with capacities from 160GB to 640GB, measures a mere 134 mm by 81 mm by 19 mm, making it easy to fit into a pocket, backpack or messenger bag. The drive is also plenty tough, meeting the U.S. military’s stringent drop-test standards.
Buffalo Ministation DataVault
Your dorm room is a mess. You can’t even find your term paper, let alone a USB cable. Buffalo’s Ministation DataVault has an elegant solution: the drive has a wrap-around USB cable that you just can't lose. Shock-absorbing dampers inside the drive ensure that, if you knock the DataVault from your desk or bike, it’ll keep on ticking. And if you’re worried about campus thieves, it includes full disk encryption to keep your data private and secure.
LaCie Rugged Safe
The LaCie Rugged Safe is a tiny, bus-powered, silver-and-black security box. While it looks like a typical portable hard drive, it features biometric authentication technology, which will protect your data more than a mere password ever could. It can be configured for up to ten users, each with their own access privileges—great if you and your lab mates need to share data. The LaCie also offers three connection types and 128-bit AES hardware encryption, and it's extremely shock resistant.
Freecom ToughDrive Sport
Billing itself as “the toughest and sportiest drive there is,” the Freecom ToughDrive (available with 250, 320, and 500GB capacities) combines stylish design with a shock resistant exterior capable of withstanding a fall of over two meters. It also has an integrated USB cable, which means one less thing to keep track of. It has a metallic hole in the corner, which lets you put it on a keychain, and hardware-encrypted password protection for security.
Maybe you left your backpack in the rain. Maybe the sprinkler system went off in your dorm. Whatever the reason, accidents do happen. The H93 will make sure your data survives. Both waterproof and shock resistant, the rubber and plastic portable hard drive can stay submerged in a meter of water for 30 minutes and survive a military-standard drop test. The H93 also ensures you won’t lose track of your USB cord: the cable is stored in a slit of the side of the enclosure. Bonus: It's available in yellow and red.
Olixir Mobile DataVault
Need a hard drive with shock protection? Thanks to a patented shock dampening technology and capable of withstanding forces up to 1200 G's, the Olixir will keep your data safe. The bus-powered mobile drive also offers FireWire eSATA, and USB 2.0 connectivity and capacities of up to 500GB. It also comes with a three-year warranty, FIPS 140-2 encrypton, and the ability to archive your data offsite.
ioSafe Solo 500GB
If you don’t need to take your data on the go, but you want something that will survive a beer bath as well as a drop from the desk, check out the ioSafe. Not only can this sturdy desktop drive put up with a huge amount of punishment, but it can also protect your data in extreme conditions, including floods and fires. The ioSafe won’t set any speed records, but it's one of the best solutions on the market for pure data protection.
SentrySafe Fire-Safe Hard Drive
SentrySafe has long been a big name in physical storage; with the Fire-Safe, it's getting into computer storage. Though the Fire-Safe's 160GB capacity is nothing special, the drive is both waterproof and fireproof—if disaster strikes your dorm or lab, at least you know your data will be safe. Like the competing ioSafe, the Fire-Safe is a desktop drive and weighs nearly 11 pounds, so you probably won’t want to carry it anywhere.