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ATP ToughDrive USB Flash Drive Review

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Are you rough on your gadgets? What if you had a device that contained all kinds of important data, but one that you didn’t have to worry about destroying no matter how hard you tried? The ToughDrive USB Flash Drive from ATP might be that device for you. I wasn’t content to trust their claims, so I put one through several torture tests.

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The ToughDrive is available with a regular Black case, or in a special Camo version. ATP sent me the Camo version to review. Capacities are 1GB – 8GB. These days, 8GB almost sounds whimpy (see my Kingston 32GB DataTraveler review). This drive is also ReadyBoost compatible.

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Included in the package is the flash drive and a nifty mini carabiner clip.

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The casing around the ToughDrive is a synthetic polymer that makes the drive shock and waterproof. It feels like rubber and doesn’t have any seams to split apart like the typical plastic shells used in other USB flash drives.

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photo courtesy of ATP

ATP uses a special packaging process called SIP (System-In-Packaging). This helps to protect all the components from damage due to water, shock, etc.

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The first thing I did with this drive was to plug it into my Mac to make sure it worked fine BEFORE I started my torture tests :) As you can see from the image above, the ToughDrive has a large Blue status LED on the front.

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7.45GB of space available, with 500MB being used by some password protection software (for Windows). This can be deleted.

I copied several files to the drive so that I would have something to access after each test.

Water and Heat Torture Test

I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone by testing both the ToughDrive’s ability to be waterproof and heat resistant. But before I got started, it occurred to me that maybe any old USB flash drive could also survive the tests that I would be doing. So, I sifted through my stash of flash drives and pulled out a junky old 512MB Lexar drive.

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The Lexar looks like it’s already seen its better days, but it would do.

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For the first test, I filled a small pan with water, plopped the ToughDrive into the pot and turned the burner up to HIGH. Once the water reached a rolling boil (212 degrees F), I set the timer for 5 minutes and waited for my flash drive soup to finish. When it was done, I did the same test with the Lexar. Then I took the sufficiently cooled drives back to my Mac to see if they were still alive.

Lexar – PASS

ToughDrive – PASS

Frozen Tundra Torture Test

Boiling had no effect on either flash drive, so I decided to do the opposite – Freeze test! And what better way to freeze something then stick it outside in the good old Indiana winter night.

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Last night at 8:41pm my wireless thermometer displayed an outside temp of -2.2 F. Yes, that’s negative 2. Can you say brrrrrrr? I put the ToughDrive and Lexar flash drives in a ziploc baggie, opened my front door and threw them on my porch. At 11pm when I went to bed, I checked the temperature again and it had dropped to -5. The next morning at 7am, the temp was a mind numbing -12.2 degrees Fahrenheit. I brought the drives back in the house (the plastic bag was a little icy) and took them down to my Mac to test them.

Lexar – PASS

ToughDrive – PASS

Hmmm, they won’t freaking die! I’m actually getting somewhat disappointed…

Shake and Bake Torture Test

I’ve boiled them and froze them… Next up, let’s see how shock proof they are by running them through a load of wash!

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I put some clothes, the uncapped ToughDrive and Lexar flash drives and a cup of detergent (poured right on top of the drives) in the washer and ran them through a 6 minute cycle. Then I put the clothes and drives in the dryer. For the next 30 minutes, I could hear them both banging against the dryer drum. When the buzzer went off, I took the drives to my Mac to test them.

Lexar – PASS

ToughDrive – PASS

Gah! Come on, die already!

USB Drive Meet my Tire Test

I know how to kill at least one of these drives – I shall drive over them with my car! The Lexar’s plastic case will definitely break. I just know it!

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Don’t judge me by my dirty tires… I live down a gravel road :) So anyway, I placed the USB drives side by side behind one of my back tires and backed out and then forward over them. I got out of my car so sure that I’d see little silver pieces of plastic laying there. But no! They both were unscathed except for a little dirt. Grrrrrr…

I put their caps back on and I brought them back into the house to test with my Mac and guess what happened when I pulled the cap off the ToughDrive…

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Destruction! The metal USB connector casing pulled right out of the body of the drive along with a thin plastic spacer that fell out as well. It was easy to reassemble the pieces, but when I tested the ToughDrive with my Mac, this is what I saw.

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Whoops… This is not what I expected at all folks…

Conclusion

The ATP ToughDrive is definitely tough. It did survive boiling, freezing and clanging around in a hot dryer for 30 minutes. But ummmm, so did an older than dirt Lexar drive with a two piece plastic shell body and exposed components just like the image from ATP above. The only thing that finally killed the ToughDrive was driving over it with my car. So that begs the question, is it really worth spending around $50 for an 8GB ATP ToughDrive when you could spend less than $20 for an 8GB Sandisk or Kingston flash drive that will probably survive all the abuse that you can throw at it? What do I think? I think that…

Lexar – PASS

ToughDrive – FAIL

 

Product Information

Price:$48.99 at Amazon.com
Manufacturer:ATP Electronics, Inc.
Pros:
  • None
Cons:
  • Did not survive being driven over with a car
  • Expensive

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Tyler Puckett January 16, 2009, 10:12 pm

    Flash media is more reliable than you think.

    For the ultimate test, dump your lexar drive in a glass of coke, let it dry fully, and see if it still works.

  • Claire January 17, 2009, 1:08 am

    This was a great review – I really enjoyed the tests you came up with, and “Does not survive being driven over with a car” is one of the best cons I’ve seen for a product.

  • Julie January 17, 2009, 6:51 am

    @Claire: Thanks! :)

  • Julie January 17, 2009, 6:53 am

    @Tyler: Will Diet Coke suffice? If so, I’ll do that test later today. How long should I allow the Lexar to ‘bathe’ before I remove it?

  • Fatma January 17, 2009, 10:21 am

    Hi, i love how you guys like to test things , i’m going to start going to college to become a computer programer and would love to do what you gadgeteers do, it seems fun. i hope to get a job like yours! by the way what’s your pay?( just kidding!)

  • Geakz January 17, 2009, 12:59 pm

    Anyone knows that painting anything camo and attaching a carbiner makes it indestructible. Nice thorough review.
    I’ve put a Titanium (another moniker for indestructible) Sandisk Micro through the washer before (twice!) and it still worked – after it dried out thoroughly.

  • FubarGuy January 17, 2009, 4:41 pm

    Interesting, I’ve already killed 3 USB Drives of various manufacturers by the simple act of washer/dryer combo. (The washing part seemed to be okay, but once they hit the dryer it was Game Over.) I recently ordered a Corsair Flash Voyager 16GB since it claims to be “Water and shock resistant” also, but I don’t think I’ll subject it to intentional abuse the way you did! Great review as always.

  • lloyd January 18, 2009, 9:29 am

    Loved the review, especially the last 2 accounts of attempted and successful flashdrivicide. I was half-hoping for a will-it-blend test but it might be a tad dangerous and I suppose copyright-infringing (perhaps a will-it-pulse? test is in the cards).

  • Julie January 18, 2009, 9:38 am

    @lloyd: Yeah, I like to go above and beyond the call of duty to review stuff for you guys, but I decided that I better not ruin one of my kitchen gadgets this time around ;)

  • Sam January 20, 2009, 7:45 am

    best review ever, thx!

  • Don January 21, 2009, 7:18 am

    the Wallet Flash seems to be better…
    see the Popular Mechanics test results – http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/reviews/4215802.html

  • Danny May 9, 2009, 4:51 pm

    My 4 gb toughdrive has been left in the parking lot over the weekend (fell out of my pocket) during a thundertorm and run over by at least one vehicle. I had to bend it a little to straighten but it works perfect (I’ve used this drive for 4 years). My only complaint is the cap that comes off in my pocket or briefcase, although I don’t think the retractable caps keep the dirve as clean. I need to step up to 8 or 16gb so I’ll check out the others all of you are suggesting.

  • Alexander June 6, 2009, 5:17 pm

    My Lexar flash drive fell in water yesterday, and my two PCs didn’t recognize it anymore.

  • david January 25, 2010, 6:34 pm

    I accidentally washed my Lexar FD today, for about ten minutes. I have several books and revisions on this FD. I took it out , gently shook some water out, dried it with a paper towel, and placed it in a bowl of white rice.
    What else can I do? Please help me , someone, email me.

  • Julie January 25, 2010, 7:30 pm

    @david Wait till tomorrow and see if it works. I doubt a 10 minute wash would kill it.

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