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Need a drive for outdoor shooting? We review the ruggedness of the G-Technology ArmorATD

If you’re shooting on location, you want to know that your footage, photos and files are backed up and secure (and safe from any accidents). G-Technology’s ArmorATD range of disk drives have been designed for harsh elements and extreme travel, and purport to be drop, crush, rain and dust resistant.

Shariff Ibrahim

I thought I’d put those claims to the test and see just how rugged the ArmorATD really is, with a series of challenges (think Taskmaster but for hard drives). Of course, at the time of writing, we were still on lockdown, so rather than heading to the Peak District or Bournemouth beach for a shoot, I thought a more domestic setting would be more suitable. So, after finishing my home workout and sourdough starter, it was off to the garden to put the drive through its paces.

First of all, though, a little background to the drive and its specifications. The model I was testing was the G-Technology ArmorATD 2TB All-Terrain Rugged USB-C Hard Drive. It has an enterprise grade 2.5” hard disk, all wrapped up in a super rugged removable rubber casing to give it that claimed durability.

A USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port is protected by a weatherproof cover, and it also comes with a USB-A adaptor for flexibility to work on all machines. Measuring 13cm x 8.71cm x 2.1cm with the cover on, it’s incredibly portable, so perfect for chucking in your camera bag or backpack.

Test #1: Need for speed

For the first test, I wanted to see how speedy the ArmorATD drive is, as data transfer speeds can be critical on a shoot when you’re working against time. G-Technology claim the drive reaches data transfer speeds of up to 140MBps. I tried transferring a 7GB video file to my MacBook Air, and found it took a smidge over 60 seconds to transfer. They’re not the speeds you would expect from an SSD, but for a very affordable mobile hard disk drive, that’s just what you need for backing up in the field.

Test #2: The £105 drop

Accidents can (and usually will) happen, so ruggedness in tech and accessories is very important when shooting in extreme locations. G-Technology state that the ArmorATD has been drop-tested at 1.2m, which is just about stomach or arm height if you were carrying your drive, or the height of a backpack pocket.

To test their claims in a garden setting, I dropped the drive from shoulder height onto my crazy paving. Testing tech is always a nervy affair, but I’m happy to say that neither the drive (or the paving) was damaged, thanks to the ArmorATD’s triple layer shock protection. But would it still operate? Success – connecting to my MacBook Air showed no sign of internal damage.

Test #3: Under pressure

G-Technology also claim that the ArmorATD drive can withstand 1000lb crush resistance (which is apparently one ‘kip’ in the US). That’s a lot of pressure. To put that to the test, I looked for the heaviest implement to hand I could find – an old spade. A generous bash to the drive with the flat of the shovel had me worried, and I was relieved when the drive came out without a scratch.

If you’re on location, you’re also likely to be around vehicles, so what would happen if you dropped your drive on the ground and a hapless driver backed over it in their van? I decided to try this out with a fairly standard car. The Toyota Corolla Verso weighs in at 1365kg/3009 lbs, which exceeds G-Technology’s stated crush resistance by some way, but I wanted to make sure it was really put through the wringer. Again, the ArmorATD prevailed, although I wouldn’t recommend trying these experiments on your shiny hard drive on purpose.

Test #4: Can it stand the rain?

Rain resistance is very important when working in the field, especially with our UK weather, so a drive that can hold up to drizzle is essential. Unfortunately, on the day of testing, the sky was completely clear of cloud and the garden basked in magnificent sunshine – just our luck. So while watering the flower beds, I struck upon an idea to throw in the ArmorATD drive for a shower.

Amazingly, after a good 30 second slosh from the watering can and then a pat down on my jeans, it was damp, but still showed no signs of defeat. The rubber cover protecting the USB port makes a perfect barrier against the elements.

Test #5: Dust… dust… dust

Finally, G-Technology also make claims about the ArmorATD’s dust resistance, so if you’re shooting on a beach or in a desert environment, it should be able to survive a blast of dust particles. Not particularly wanting to venture to the desert or beach at this time, I tried the next best thing – a good dousing of mulch. 

A load of old soil isn’t the ideal addition to your shiny hard drive, but again, after a quick wipe down, the ArmorATD backed up its dirt-defying credentials thanks to that rubber casing. Really useful when working in – literally – the field.

The verdict

While home office bound, I’m not susceptible to many extreme conditions, but I can really see how great the ArmorATD would be for those videographers, photographers, editors and producers working out on location. As seen, it’s held its own in all of our tests, and I was particularly impressed by the drop resistance, as I am known to get through iPhones regularly with my butterfingers.

And then we come to the price point. Hard drives are much less expensive than they were a few years ago, and a 2TB ArmorATD disk drive comes in at just £105 ex VAT (1TB, 4TB and 5TB options are also available with pricing between £60 and £125 ex VAT), with all the durability and speed factored in, you really can’t go wrong for a trusty mobile drive. I’d definitely recommend it to any budding nature videographers out there. 5/5.

-      Shop the full G-Technology ArmorATD range here

Need to ingest on the move?

If you need to be doing more ingesting and editing while on the fly, you could also try the G-SPEED Shuttle range. This awesome transportable drive packs up to 24TB of capacity or protected RAID storage. It features hardware RAID, removable enterprise-class hard modules, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and two ev series adaptors, has incredible transfer speed and is rugged too. Perfect if you want to ingest rushes and footage directly from Atomos, CF and RED MINI-MAG cards wherever you are.

-      Shop the full G-Technology G-SPEED Shuttle range here

Want to know more about G-Technology’s rugged mobile drives and mobile RAID? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 210, email or simply fill out the form below.

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