Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Backup hard drives are inexpensive and a great way to save important information. Is storing your backup hard drive in your safe adding any protection?
Do you know what the maximum temperature is that an external hard drive can withstand? (not at which it operates, but an external temperature it can withstand.)
I bought an external hard drive with the intention of backing up my data once a week and storing the hard drive in a fire safe for the remainder of the time in case of fire. I was reading through the manual for my safe the other day, and it said it protects the contents by making sure the interior doesn't raise to above 350 degrees in case of fire. This got me thinking: the papers I have in there would be ok at that temperature, but would my credit cards and backup hard drive be ok? Wouldn't they melt? I read over the hard drive manual and even called the support number, but no one could give me the maximum temperature that the external hard drive could withstand. The only temperature numbers I could get were its operating temperatures.
I'll be honest - I don't know the answer to your specific question. I'll make an extremely uneducated guess, and maybe some readers will comment with better information.
I, personally, would never do what you're suggesting. But the good news is that you're 80% of the way to what I do, in fact, do.
First, I'm not surprised that you can't get a straight answer from the manufacturer - if they don't publish the information already, I'm certain it's not something that they would want to be held accountable for.
My totally wild guess - that you may not hold me to - is that your drive might be OK at 350 degrees. Now, "OK" is a relative term. I'm envisioning the drive itself being ok, but the case, the cables and everything else melted into a plastic puddle. You might be able to retrieve your data, but it won't be a pretty process.
I'm also expecting that your credit cards will part of the plastic puddle. (Though they're easier to test - take one of the cards you get in your junk mail every so often, and bake in a 350 degree oven for, oh, half an hour or so and see what's left. Just make sure you put it on something disposable.)
Now, why do I think this is such a bad idea?
Well, besides the fact that I'm not certain that the drive would actually survive the heat, I'm fairly certain that other damage could be worse. I vaguely recall that most property damage resulting from a fire is, paradoxically, water damage. What happens if your safe gets flooded? Paper can, in many cases, be dried out. Yes, hard drives can as well - but again, you're pushing the envelope, and it may be a difficult recovery.
And of course the safe may be buried for days in the rubble of a true catastrophe.
While I do have a safe in my home, I do not rely on it for anything related to my computer.
What I do rely on, is off-site storage.
My personal situation is fairly simple: I have two physical locations, say home and work, and at each location is an external hard drive to which data is being backed up nightly. Every so often I swap them, simple as that. That way each location has off-site backup at the other. If either location is destroyed, the other remains.
A more common scenario is to simply take your hard drive (or backup CD's, as I used to) to the home of a friend or family member.
Depending on how much data you're talking about, this might also be a good use for some of the on-line storage that your ISP or other service providers might give you for free.
But if you're going through the trouble of creating and updating that backup disk, I really recommend taking that next step and storing it (or a copy of it) off-site, somewhere.
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