Let's find out just how tough the Corsair Flash Voyager GT USB flash drive really is.
Do you ever wonder what marketers mean when they use words such as durable and rugged? I do! So when Corsair sent me a Flash Voyager GT USB flash drive for review – a drive that is described in the sales literature as "durable, water resistant, drop-tested," – I decided to give it some really rough treatment to find out just how durable this drive really is.
Before we go on, here’s the spec for the Corsair Flash Voyager GT:
- Capacity: 2, 4, 8 and 16GB (the drive I tested was an 8GB model)
- Plug & Play functionality in Windows Vista, XP, 2000, ME, Linux 2.4 and later, Mac OS 9, X and later
- Includes the True Crypt security application (Windows Vista/XP/2000 compatible only) allowing for a virtual encrypted drive using AES-256 encryption
- Lanyard and USB extension cable included
- ReadyBoost compatible
- Limited 10-year warranty
Test #1 - The Pocket Test
For the first test I decided to subject the drive to over a week of normal in my pocket condition along with all the usual stiff I carry - keys, coins, pocket knife, etc. Although the drive suffered no physical damage during this time I did notice that the rubber surface had collected a film of lint that didn't seem to want to come off until I gave it a quick wash off with soapy water. After a quick dry off with a paper towel the drive was looking as good as new.
Now you might be thinking that the pocket test is an easy test for any USB flash drive to pass. You'd be wrong. I've had drives that can't emerge from a pocket test without suffering significant damage (serious crush/crack body damage or busted caps are the most common type of damage flash drives sustain in pockets). The rubber housing on the Flash Voyager GT really does make it resistant to normal levels of wear and tear.
But what about abnormal levels of wear and tear?
Test #2 - The Car Test
So, just how resistant to crushing is the Corsair Flash Voyager GT? It seemed pretty resistant to me standing on it and me driving over it with an office chair… I needed to drive over it with something a little more serious.
Like a Land Rover. Land Rover Freelander TD4, kerb weight 1,770 Kg (3,900 lbs).
Unlike rocket science or brain surgery, there not much in the way of science to this test (or any of the others to be honest). In fact, it involves nothing more than chucking the drive underneath the wheel and driving back and forth a few times over the USB flash drive.
So, how did it stand up? Well, not too bad, but it didn't come out of the test unscathed. As you can see from the photo below, the USB plug (the part that I always suspected would be the weak link) crushed a little, but enough to make sure that the drive couldn't be plugged into a USB port …without a little surgery at least.
During the operation I used a pair of tweezers and a small flat-bladed screwdriver to straighten out the end of the USB plug and within seconds I had it to a point where it would fit into a USB and – hey presto! – the drive worked just fine.
Test #3 - The Water Test
After being repeatedly driven over the Voyager GT now needed a bath. So it got one. For 24 hours.
After the 24 hours were up, I pulled it out of the water, gave it a quick shake and plugged it into the nearest USB port, where the drive worked flawlessly.
Test #4 - The Freeze Test
For the next test I popped the drive into a ziplock bag, added some water, sealed the top and threw it into a chest freezer for about 5 hours. At the end of the 5 hours I was left with this USBsicle:
At these low temperatures (around -15 °C/5 °F) the rubber housing of the drive hadn't become brittle and still remained soft.
Rather than wait for the ice to thaw out, I moved straight on to the fifth and final test.
Test #5 - The Boil Test
I took the iceberg containing the Corsair Flash Voyager GT and chucked it into a pan of water and bought the whole thing up to a boil and left it at a rolling boil for 5 minutes (I told you this wasn't rocket science). This exposed the drive to a rapid change of temperature and is far worse than the drive would experience if it was inadvertently put through a wash cycle (unless you do your laundry in the Arctic).
At the end of the 5 minute period I removed the drive from the boiling water and ducked it into cold water to bring it to a temperature where I could comfortably hold it. That rubber holds a lot of heat! After a quick shake off I popped it into a USB port and guess what? It worked!
So, what's the bottom line? Well, after all that torture the drive worked. The only failure was that the USB plug crushed under the weight of the Freelander TD4 during the Car Test. I did expect that this would happen given the flimsy nature of both the USB plug and the cap. For people who weren't adventurous enough to straighten out the end, the drive would be dead at this stage. If the end had crushed much worse than it was then the drive could have been KOed completely. Luckily, it was recoverable.
As far as all the other tests went, the drive passed with flying colors.
So, in conclusion, the Corsair Flash Voyager GT is one solid, robust drive. The only weak link is the cap and if this could be re-engineered to offer the USB plug some more protection then this drive would be pretty close to perfect. Given that it’s a pretty common scenario for a USB drive to fall out of your pocket as you fumble for your car keys, it’s good to know that this one can take it if the worst happens. As long as you don't drive over it repeatedly, it should be able to take all the day to day abuse that you can throw at it. It's certainly capable of putting up with the kind of abuse that normal USB drives experience over the course of a few years.
Final score: 9.5/10
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