The ADATA Superior SH93 is one tough USB hard drive, promising to be both shock- and water-resistant. But how will it stand up to the PC Advisor lab tests?
Backing up your data to an external hard drive is a good idea - until that drive is itself lost or damaged.
A-DATA doesn't promise to help you not lose this drive (although with a choice of racing-car yellow or chilli-red finishes, you're less likely to lose sight of it); but it does claim that the ADATA Superior SH93 is shockproof and waterproof. Which are useful qualities for something so sensitive as a spinning hard disk.
On the outside, the ADATA Superior SH93 takes a rubber-plastic combination case to armour it against the elements. And this helps give it some useful non-slip purchase, so you're less likely to drop it. If you do let it tumble, it ought to shrug off the shock. A-DATA assures us its passed the MIL-STD-810F test, a US military specification for combat equipment.
That mil-spec actually refers to an exhaustive series of trials - which can test for, among other things, tolerance to gunfire vibration, fungus, ballistic shock and solar radiation. But in the example of this hard drive, A-DATA only conducted the spec's drop test.
You can try this Procedure IV test yourself at home - assuming your system under test is less than 91cm across, just raise it to a height of 1.22m and drop it a total of 26 times, on every corner and edge. If it still works afterwards, you can call it MIL-STD-810F Procedure IV-compliant.
And we can vouch for this ADATA Superior SH93 unit's bounce quality, with the drive still working happily afterwards, even if our test was with the drive disconnected and powered down. Given a suitably long USB cable, we'd be less confident of the subsequent data integrity if the magnetic glass platters had been spinning at the moment of impact...
The US mil-spec rating is also not especially forthcoming on what floor material you should use. We assume concrete is preferred to shag pile. Our test centre has hard carpet tiles over galvanised steel.
The water-tightness is easy enough to qualify, with a promised resistance to 1m depth for 30 minutes. To make the ADATA Superior SH93 drive waterproof, a rubber plug - captive on the case by a flimsy rubber strip - needs to be first pushed in, to seal the mini-USB port.
We didn't have a one-metre pool for this test (also known as IEC 529 IPX7, or ‘Level 7'), so let it off more lightly by submerging it for an hour at 30cm depth - which it shrugged off with no ill effects afterwards.
To use the ADATA Superior SH93 drive as intended - as a data repository rather than a water-repellant missile - you need to detach a short USB cable which is handily clipped around the unit's circumference. A hidden blue LED glows softly from below the logo when it's powered up.
In use, we noticed the ADATA Superior SH93 drive to be particularly quiet and low in vibration, helped no doubt by the damping qualities of the rubbery case.
Our lab speed tests showed the ADATA Superior SH93 drive to have regular read/write performance for a USB 2.0 hard disk, averaging 31.4MB/s reads and 18.1MB/s writes.
Random access was a 2.5in hard disk-typical result of 17.9 millisecond, while PC system CPU usage varied between 6 and 11%.
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