By Andrew Harrison Tech Advisor | on July 10, 2009
Computing and rock climbing are not natural bedfellows. But if they were, this rugged-looking ToughDrive Sport USB hard disk from Freecom may suggest itself as the very accessory you're looking for.
Outside, it's a rubbery satin-finished plastic case with a great big hole onto which you can lash your carabiner (included but not illustrated). Inside, there's a 250GB Samsung notebook hard drive, insulated from the rigors of the rockface by an additional thin rubber sleeve between drive and outer case.
A USB cable is tethered to the case, finished in patterned nylon brand to complete the look of an outdoor appliance. This wraps around the outside of the case when not in use, with the USB plug clipping into a slot on its top.
The Freecom ToughDrive Sport is billed as ‘able to endure even the toughest conditions', although we would suggest that that doesn't include the ‘stormy weather' vouched for by Freecom. We managed to pry the Freecom ToughDrive Sport case apart with our fingers without trying too hard, so water resistance won't be its forté. Especially given the exposed DC power-in socket, included in case your USB port doesn't have enough current to power up the drive.
Long-term durability against knocks is also in question, as the satin-finish coating on the casework is easily scratched off after tumbling around inside a rucksack or shoulder bag.
In our read/write speed tests, we found the Freecom ToughDrive Sport rather slow in data writing. Read speeds were around 29MBps, but writes were down at 15-16MBps.
For added security, the Freecom ToughDrive Sport includes cross-platform (Windows and Macintosh) hardware encryption. You can set the drive so that it cannot be mounted by the PC until a password has been entered.
As well as the 250GB size we tested, the Freecom ToughDrive Sport is also available in 320GB and 500GB capacities.