ioSafe 214 NAS RAID
Disaster-proof; redundant drives; powerful server
Expensive; not for beginners
From $999 (4TB-ready) to $4499 (8TB-ready with 5-year warranty)
Over the years we’ve covered a number of ioSafe’s products at Macworld Australia, because we think that external hard drives built to withstand fire and water are just such a great idea. Now the company’s latest product, the 214, takes things to another level altogether. Whereas the previous ioSafes we reviewed were single-disk products, the 214 is a multi-drive NAS (Network Attached Storage), which means it’s a server that can be used by multiple users across your network – even from an iPhone or iPad. The two-drive bay can hold drives up to 4GB each. The idea is to run them in a RAID 1 configuration. This setup means that each drive is an exact mirror of the other, giving you full redundancy in the case of drive failure. In Australia you need to supply your own drives. Opening the ioSafe to insert them shows you why this is such a rugged unit. You use a 3mm hex tool to undo the two screws holding the faceplate on, which exposes a ceramic ‘nest’ inside a metal frame. Yet another metal plate must be removed before you can access the drives wrapped in a metal heatsink. ioSafe says the fire insulation layers protect your data against 850-degree heat for half an hour, and the water barriers are effective up to 3m for 72 hours. While ioSafe provides the protection, the unit is built around Synology’s DiskStation DS214 hardware and DiskStation Manager (DSM) 4.3 operating system. Yes, it’s essentially a computer all of its own, and even runs a suite of apps that let you use it as a private cloud. Among these are apps that let you sync files between the ioSafe and your Macs or PCs (a bit like your own Dropbox), and play stored music and videos on any Mac, PC or iOS device. Setup isn’t a simple one-click affair, but it’s straightforward enough if you have moderate computer knowledge and takes about 10 minutes via a Synology Assistant app that you need to install, and a browser-based wizard. Once you’re set up, what you get is a browser-based virtual operating system that looks like a cross between Windows and OS X. Make no mistake, this is a pretty powerful server, and will suit the needs of any small to medium enterprise. ioSafe offers an optional data recovery service for $0.99 per month (Basic) or $2.99 per month (Pro). Bottom line. It lets you create a private cloud and gives you peace of mind through redundant drives, fire and water protection and an optional data recovery service. So what’s not to like about the ioSafe 214? Well, safety comes at quite a price. The housing units start at $999 for a 4TB-ready unit and go up to $4499 for an 8TB-ready model with a five-year warranty. Then you need to buy the drives as well.