Data Fire Safes – Are They Really Worth the Price?

Data Fire Safes Offer the Best in Fire Protection

By definition, for a safe to be listed as a genuine data fire safe, it must meet the following standard, and bear a UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) logo and specific label testifying that it is a class 150 or 125 fire proof data safe. The UL site has more specific information on it, but the classification basically means that the internal temperatures won’t reach beyond 125 or 150 F, or 52 or 66 C, approximately. Data fire safes that protect magnetic storage devices such as magnetic tapes (VCR or audio tapes) and photographic film, need the 150 Class rating from UL. If the contents are the more sensitive floppy disks, CDs or even USB and hard drives, then the fire rating class has to be 125 to be effective.

The other fire Class is 350, which is only effective for paper products and non-data storage. The reason for the class distinction is that the electronic media has a lower “flash point” than paper. At temperatures greater than 125, the data could become corrupt and the media could melt.

On top of these classifications, the UL also will test for impact resistance and the duration that the safe can withstand the fire, with temperatures ranging from 1700 F on up to 2200 F. This “endurance” classification of the fire-proof data safe is denoted as ” ½, 1, 2, or 3.” It simply gives a suggested time in which the contents of the safe are indeed safe from the flames, with ½ being 30 minutes, or half an hour, the 1-3 referring to the number of hours the contents will be safe from the flames.

Other Features To Be On The Lookout For

Your Fire-Proof Data Safe Must Be Water-Proof!

To keep your data safe in storage, you need to be sure the fire-proof data safe you invest in is also water proof. Why do data fire safes need to be water-proof as well as fire-proof? Simple: in the event of a fire, the emergency responders or automatic sprinklers will douse the flames with water. Unless a safe is specifically designated as water-proof, then the data protected from the flames will be susceptible to the damage caused by the firemen’s blast of water. The data could easily be lost at that point.

Keep Thieves From Your Data Storage Safe

On top of the data fire safe being fire and water-proof, it also needs to be theft-proof. The term “theft-proof” is a bit of a subjective term, actually. The UL classifications for theft or security-grade protection are as follows: Residential Security Containers, and Tool-Resistant Safes ranging in Class from “TL-15” and “TL-15X” through “TL-30” and “TL30-X6.”

The “residential security containers” are the average jewelry box or other similar device: it wouldn’t prevent theft from anyone determined to get to the contents. The “TL-15” Class refers to a break-in attempt, with tools, from an equipped thief, for the duration of about 15 minutes. In other words, a thief with 16 minutes can break into the contents of the safe. The “TL-15X6” refers to the fact that this protection is 6-sided, and not only referring to the vault door.

Given these parameters, it may seem as if there is no such thing as a “theft-proof” data storage safe, but in actuality, most thieves aren’t planning on attacking a safe so heavily guarded. Most burglaries are thwarted by a serious-looking safe, especially considering the criminal will want to move on rapidly.

Some of the best anti-theft devices cost quite a bit more, and include things such as silent alarms and remote monitoring, bolt-down capabilities to keep the data storage safe on your premises, tempered glass plate re-lockers in the event of an attempted break-in, and of course a UL certified lock of choice (electronic, combination/manual, key, or biometric). Again, it’s important to verify that the lock itself is UL certified.

Impact Resistance – Why It Matters

One last feature to beware of: impact-resistance. It may seem that impact resistance isn’t as important to a data fire safe as, say, fire-proof walls and a tight seal, but impact ratings are very important for a simple reason. Besides the fact that the safe must maintain a certain temperature and must remain closed to the abuse of a theft attempt, in the case of an actual fire, the safe may fall through several floors. Impact-resistant safes are tested to withstand 30-foot falls, and remain in tact.

Your Data Fire Safe May Not Be As Protected As You Think! A Few Buyer’s Tips

It is key to understand, however, that most data fire safes are not geared to also be used as burglary or security-grade safes. They are designed to resist fire, not theft, and not necessarily water, either. To be sure you are investing in the level of protection you need, make sure the data fire safe you purchase reflects an independently tested standard.

Your best investment is to buy a fire proof data safe that is stamped with the UL approval. This is one investment you don’t necessarily want to “go cheap” on – by all means make your investment count. Get the water-resistance, theft and fire-resistance that you need, and make sure the ratings are from an independent lab.

Unfortunately, you don’t want to find out too late that the “manufacturer’s guarantee” or “lab test” done by the manufacturer was nothing more than a sales tactic. It may sound paranoid, but it’s all too true. Unless a manufacturer were to conform to UL testing or a similar industry-proven, independent lab, then the safe isn’t worth your dime.

Another problem you may run into is if the UL stamp is only for a certain part of the overall safe. This means that the rest of the safe isn’t approved. It isn’t illegal to sell these safes, but it is underhanded nonetheless. Stick with trustworthy manufacturers. You don’t want to risk your investments and property, thinking you have more protection than you purchased.

Other options you may be interested in laying hold of on your data fire safes are: glass plate re-lockers, USB port directly to hard drive in the safe, de-humidifying devices and anti-electrostatic properties, fire cladding (added protection and sealed environment), silent alarm capability with remote monitoring services, biometric locks or multi-modal locks (e.g.: uses both a fingerprint identifier and a key), and a lifetime warranty.

Data fire safes with these features in place will cost significantly more than the bare-bones data fire safe, but the added protection is commensurate with the sensitivity of the data stored within. Be sure that your data fire safe offers you the protection against humidity, water, fire, theft, explosion and impact – and is made from a manufacturer that is in good standing with the UL.