Next time you have several gigabytes of vital data that you fear may be either dumped in the sea or thrown down a flight of stairs, then getting hold of I-O Data 's new water- and shock-proof mini hard drive should set your mind at ease.

The HDMC-U series of 1-inch external hard drives connect by USB 2.0 and are available with 8GB or 12GB of storage. Each drive is enclosed in a waterproof case and then wrapped in shock-resistant rubber before the four sides of the enclosure are surrounded by a thick rubber USB cable.

The result is IPX7-standard waterproofing that will survive immersion in 1m for up to half an hour and MIL-STD-810F shock-proofing to protect the drive from drops of over 1.2m.

Most I-O Data products become available overseas quickly and the HDMC-U series should sell for close to their Japanese prices - 8GB for ¥15,700 (£70) and 12GB for ¥21,000 (£93). J Mark Lytle