Copying data to an external hard drive is probably the easiest, most popular way to back up. This won't help save important data against fire or flood, however, unless the external hard drive is the one unveiled by ioSafe at CES this year: the ioSafe Solo.
ioSafe is known for making internal hard drives that can survive extreme heat. The ioSafe Solo is the result of putting that internal hard drive into an external case that features a USB 2.0 connection to hook up to a computer.
According to ioSafe, the Solo can withstand fires up to 1,550 degrees F, compliant with the ASTM E119 industry standard. The drive can also be submersed in fresh or salt water for three days at a depth of 10 feet.
The internal hard drive used in the Solo is protected with ioSafe technologies including FloSafe, HydroSafe, and DataCast.
FloSafe is a cooling technology that manages air flow to protect data from extreme heat. HydroSafe, on the other hand, is designed to protect data loss from fresh or salt water damage, including full immersion, while at the same time allowing heat from normal operating to dissipate. Lastly, DataCast is an endothermic insulation technology that uses trapped water molecules to maintain internal heat temperatures at just above 200 degrees F while outside temperatures can go more than seven times higher.
To sum up all those sophisticated sounding technologies: the ioSafe Solo is to provide protection against disaster that comes from outside. The drive, however, doesn't have any protection against internal hardware corruption--say, if the internal drive itself fails. Maybe in the future, it will come with redundancy protection like RAID. For now, however, this is still the only solution if you want to make sure your data is safe through a flood or fire.
Best of all, the ioSafe Solo doesn't come with a hefty price tag. It ships in three storage capacities that cost $150, $200, and $300, respectively, all after a introductory discount of $50. These prices are about the same as other external drives that don't have the same level of protection. ioSafe even includes in the price a three-year Disaster Recovery Service for registered products. During this time, the service will take care of restoring the data in case of disasters.