Freecom ToughDrive Sport 500GB review

Price when reviewed

Whether you’re gathering footage of a cycling trip, taking photos in the mountains or just running for a train in the morning, there’s always that nagging possibility that your external hard disk will take a few too many knocks and you’ll lose everything. Freecom’s ToughDrive range aims to ease that risk for outdoor types, with a durable casing that can withstand drops of up to 2m ??” more than enough to cover a fall from that rucksack pocket.

Freecom ToughDrive Sport 500GB review

We gave it a long and clumsy drop test and it held up without any problems. The tough outer shell has a loop in one corner to connect the bundled carabiner, making it easy to hook the drive to a belt or bag strap. And around the edge is looped an integrated USB cable, nicely disguised as climbing rope for effect. When not in use it slots into its holder, forming a seal that should keep out rain and dust ??” Freecom claims the ToughDrive is “fully protected against?? adverse weather conditions”, although with no official IP protection rating in sight we’d be reluctant to expose it to too much.

It’s USB-only, so it won’t compete with the fastest drives on the market. It wrote 100MB of small files in 27.2secs, putting it behind most portable drives in our last group test; and with 2.5secs to write a 50Mb file the same applies. It was closer to the pack when reading files, though: 1.8secs for a 50MB file is in the same ballpark as most USB drives, while 5.9secs to read 100Mb of small files puts it on a par with the slowest portable drives.

In short, this is not a drive for speed, but the style and marketing should make that clear enough. Instead, the Freecom is about durability and security and to this end it comes with password protection on a chip housed in the casing and encryption software on the drive itself; set this up, and if the drive is removed the data can’t be accessed. Bear in mind there’s no recovery method, though, so forgetting your password means reformatting the drive.

It’s a well-implemented storage product for those who like to indulge in more active lifestyles, or simply those who travel a lot with work. At £130 exc VAT for 500GB it’s certainly not cheap, though ??” non-rugged drives at this capacity will be around £100 or lower.


Capacity 500GB
Cost per gigabyte 26.0p
Hard disk type Mechanical


USB connection? yes
eSATA interface no

Performance tests

Write speed small files 3.7MB/sec
Write speed large files 20.0MB/sec

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