External drives are one of the few storage options that still rely heavily on spinning hard drives instead of solid-state memory (known as flash memory).
While traditional users are relying a lot more on cloud storage instead of beefing up their local storage capacity (thereby favoring smaller capacity SSDs, for example), there is a niche audience that wants high capacity at low cost and that – for now – can only be provided by hard disks.
The Adata HD710M Pro (HD710MP-1T) is an external hard drive that claims to be both dust and waterproof as well as shock resistant. It is available in 1TB and 2TB models for around £67 (around $90) and £87 (around $120) respectively at Amazon UK; availability will vary in other territories.
Adata chose a military camouflage design to subliminally suggest that the HD710M is a tough device. Looking closer, you will find that there’s plenty of silicone rubber around – to absorb shocks – with what looks like a hard plastic casing (although part of it is translucent as you can see the blue status LED).
The manufacturer claims that it surpasses IP68 standards although it doesn’t say whether it has been IP68-tested. The drive can survive for up to 60 minutes submerged in 2m of water and can survive falls of up to 1.5m thanks to a ‘triple-layered’ construction.
There’s a short, foot-long, USB cable that wraps around the outer part of the shell and has a Type-A USB 3.0 connector at one end and an old-school flat USB connector on the other. A longer and more flexible USB lead, possibly with a Type-C connector at one end, would have been preferred.
A flap hides the flat USB connector, and this could be dislodged during a fall, which could potentially allow liquids inside.
Usage and performance
The HD710M Pro houses a 7mm-high Western Digital Blue 1TB hard disk drive (WD10SPCX), one which was released five years ago and is likely to feature in the last iteration of Adata’s storage device, the HD710. It sports 16MB cache and a 5400RPM spinning speed with two platters.
The drive hit 123.8 and 119.5MBps on CrystalDiskMark’s read/write tests – which is about a third of what an average SSD can achieve – and scored up to 131 and 119MBps respectively on the popular ATTO disk benchmark.
The drive didn’t become too warm to the touch during our test and the cable didn’t show any tendency to come loose. At 132 x 20 x 99mm with a weight of 286g, this device strikes a decent balance between being too light (and fragile) and too heavy (and almost indestructible).
Adata has equipped the HD710M with shock sensors that will automatically trigger internal protection mechanisms that will, in theory, safeguard the user’s data. Remember though that spinning hard disk drives are more likely to suffer from damage when subjected to intense vibration or sudden shock when in use.
Adata also bundles two pieces of software (both of which will turn 10 next year), both of which are mildly useful: HDDtoGo allows you to back up from your PC to an external HDD, back up an external HDD to PC, and it also facilitates synchronized backup (updating files to the same version on multiple storage locations), locking your PC, and encryption using 256-bit AES. There’s also OStoGo which converts your Windows setup system into a format that can be used on an external hard drive.
The Silicon Power Armor A85 has been tested to the more stringent MIL-STD 810G standard (which makes it more rugged) and carries a three-year standard warranty. It costs about the same as the HD710M Pro and is available in capacities of up to 5TB, although the aluminum chassis and the proprietary cable might not go down well with some.
The Adata HD710 is the predecessor of the HD710M and is available at a significant discount from the main online retailers. It retains most of the salient features of the HD710M: the design, the IP68 sticker, the anti-shock sensors and the three-year warranty. It’s a better buy in our view given the 33% price difference.
Note that Adata sells a staggering seven SKUs that are tagged durable, 2.5-inch and have a 1TB capacity or greater.
There’s a lot that Adata could improve on with this drive starting with the price and the design, as well as the maximum available capacity.
Seagate produces 5TB hard disk drives that fit in a 2.5-inch chassis and that would be a welcome improvement to tackle the last aforementioned niggle. A combination of 140MBps and higher areal capacity (Seagate uses 1TB platters instead) should also boost performance.
As it stands, it’s hard to recommend the Adata HD710M Pro over the competition, especially as its predecessor proves to be a better value-for-money proposition. As always, make sure you have some sort of cloud backup as a safety net to prevent data loss.
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