• FireKing MediaVaultHD Review

    We are all guilty of lackluster data backup and storage management in one way or another. Most music lovers have a single hard drive in their laptop or desktop and when it fails every single album goes up in smoke (Cheech and Chong reference). Others are a little more cautious and attach a standard external hard drive to their music server and run a backup every once in a while. Some of us are even running RAID 5 NAS units and betting that two drives will not fail at the same time. All of this is fine and dandy until you hang up your smoking jacket and set your tobacco pipe down after an extended listening session. Long after you've retired for the evening the dog swings by knocking the pipe to the floor. Unbenownced to both of you a smouldering ember has disappeard into the shag carpetting and before you know it you're wearing you're Hugh Hefner-esque robe in front of your house watching it burn. I'm sure a music sever and collection of ripped albums would not be top of mind at that moment, but no doubt the unreplaceable family photos and family heirlooms would come to mind once everyone was safe. Most people would be S.O.L. in this situation. Fortunately FireKing has created the MediaVault HD that can hold 500 GB of data in a fireproof enclosure. This sixty-five pound container is one substantial and safe external storage solution.



    I've been using the FireKing MediaVaultHD for about one month and I've really grown to like it. As I previously stated this thing weighs in at a hefty 65 lbs. and has total disk capacity of 500 GB. The disk space consist of two 2.5" 250 GB seagate drives. The drives are powered via USB which is the only connection to the outside world from inside the container. The USB cables seem like part of the container as they weave from the internal drives to an external USB port where the connection to a computer is made. The cable holes are totally sealed off so no air/smoke can penetrate the container's weakest point. One must be careful not to harm the USB cables as attempting to replace them would undoubtedly compromise the container. When the 5400 RPM drives are spinning there is absolutely no sound coming from the enclosure. Audiophiles looking for silent hard drives are certain to find them with this unit. Also note that the MVHD can be used as primary music library storage as the SATA 5400 RPM speed is certainly enough speed to serve high resolution audio.


    While the MediaVaultHD review unit was in my system I had it connected to my Apple Airport Extreme Base Station much of the time. This way I could use the fireproof container as a backup drive with Time Machine. The configuration worked flawlessly just like any other external hard drive connected to an AEBS. I also tested the MediaVaultHD as a directly connected backup drive. Since most of us have more than 250 GB of music to backup and this unit contains two 250 GB drives I tried a couple different options. Using the Mac OS X Disk Utility I created a 500 GB volume by combining both drives into one visible volume. This approach leaves all the data vulnerable to a single drive failure but it works nonetheless. Another approach I used was to fill up the first 250 GB drive then begin backing up music to the second 250 GB drive. Since both drives have separate USB connections this is very simple and the full drive can actually be disconnected and left inside the container. This would free up a connection for an additional drive inside the MediaVaultHD as there is room spare. The 500 GB MediaVaultHD capacity can be used and exceeded with a little creativity. The drives in the MVHD do require a fair amount of USB power are likely not compatible with a USB hub. I tried to connect both drives simultaneously to my Airport Extreme through a hub but I could not get this configuration to work. It is possible a powered hub could be used but there are no guarantees the unit will work any differently.

    One nice feature about the MVHD is the included USB cables have additional USB ports on them. Thus, additional USB devices can be used even with the two MVHD drives connected.



    A couple downsides to the unit are the limitation of two small drives and the container as a whole is very aesthetically challenged. That said I still don't want to send the review unit back to FireKing. There was a great sense of safety knowing my files could survive The Towering Inferno. The MediaVaultHD carries a UL Class 125 1 hour fire rating. To obtain this rating the MediaVaultHD container can't allow the internal temperature to rise above 125°F or the relative humidity above 80% with an exterior temperature of 1700°F. The Class 125 rating is huge. The container is also built to protect against water from sprinklers fire hoses. Some "fireproof" containers may keep the fire out but still allow the temperature inside an enclosure to rise above what a hard drive can safely handle. The MediaVaultHD is as serious as it gets for data protection in the home or small business. One benefit of the substantial weight of this unit is its lack of portability. This may sound odd but in terms of data protection one must always consider the threat of theft as well as fire. I seriously doubt the average thief would risk a hernia just to get this container out of a house. Plus, there is no quick getaway with the MVHD on your back.



    Wrap Up

    The FireKing MediaVaultHD is one serious external drive enclosure. Consider this unit like an insurance policy that you can actually benefit from every day. Those of us unwilling, or to lazy, to keep a copy of our data in an offsite location should be happy to mitigate the risk of loss with the MVHD. It doesn't get any simpler than plugging in a USB hard drive. This USB hard drive just happens to withstand 1700°F. Recommended with confidence.






    Manufacturer: FireKing
    Product Website: MediaVaultHD
    Price: $900 - $1000
    Availability: Where To Buy
    1. User manual
    2. MVHD Brochure (5.22 MB)
    3. Backup Media Comparison Chart

    MediaVaultHD Fireproof Test


    Comments 5 Comments
    1. whattzup's Avatar
      whattzup -
      What about Sentry and ioSafe . Both companies have products that are better. Sentry is 1/3 the cost at about $400 for 250 GB. ioSafe is almost 1/10 the cost at $150 for twice the memory at 500 GB!!!! I don't get lopsided reviews like this (unless you're getting paid from Fireking - then I "get it".)
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      HI whattzup - Sophomoric comments like yours don't get us anywhere. I think there is far more to this than price and the fact that a manufacturer calls its products fireproof. I looked at both links you provided and did not specifically see an Underwriters Laboratory official fire rating. The only real way to judge the effectiveness of these units in a real fire is to have an independent entity like the UL test and rate the containers. I obviously don't get paid by FireKing or anyone related to this product. That ind of nonsense is easily exposed and smart readers see right through it. If a competing product is better and cheaper I am all for letting the readers know about it. So far I fail to see why you've suggested the aforementioned competing products are "better."
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Tonto - You are correct that there is room for more drives. That's why I suggested using additional drives in the review :~) However there are only two USB connections and I don't think more than two drives can be appropriately powered at one time.
    1. airdronian's Avatar
      airdronian -
      Very cool.<br />
      <br />
      As time goes by and more valuable files/memories are stored in house (who's going to the safety deposit box this week with the backup dvd-dl's ?) this product serves a real purpose.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks for the heads up.
    1. Safegeek's Avatar
      Safegeek -
      Greetings from lurker land.<br />
      <br />
      As a long time reseller of fire resistant safes. {I sell both the sentry and the FireKing MVHD safes among others}<br />
      I'd like to add to Mr. Connaker's correct response. In the physical data protection business if it doesn't have a UL Class 125 1hr or better rating it's rairly if ever considered at the Gov. or Corp. level. That said as they can be unaffordable to some the Sentry has it's place - Not the level of protection I'd like to see but better than nothing. The Sentry and the IO are designed to allow the platters inside the drive to survive and be shipped off to a data recovery labs clean room to be dissected and data recovery attempted.<br />
      <br />
      The FireKing is the only USB connected UL Class 125 1hr rated unit available at this time. It is designed to survive the fire and the many hours of heat soak <strong>intact and bootable.</strong> Heat soak is where so many units fail the UL test, think of cooking a turkey - it will continue to heat soak or cook for 10 - 20 min. after you remove it from the oven. For a safe "cooked" at 1900 degrees it's much longer - many hours and for very large safes even days. In real life this is very, very important as the fire depart will rarely if ever allow immediate access to the site of a fire.<br />
      <br />
      Also beware of tricky advertising copy. Some resellers will simply call a safe "class 125" giving the impression it's "ul" when it's not, or will say it's "built to" UL 125. I see this a lot with import stuff from the pacific rim and eastern Europe.<br />
      <br />
      As I'm a first time poster with a commercial interest in the subject. I will totally understand if the mods. choose to edit or delete this post. <br />
      <br />
      Rick<br />