Phoenix Datacare 2001k

A product review by Bobulous

About the Phoenix Datacare 2001k

The Datacare 2001k is a fire safe for magnetic media. It is manufactured by Phoenix Safe Company.

This model of safe is designed and tested to pass the NT FIRE 017 - 60 Diskette test. This requires that the internal temperature of the safe stay below 50°C for at least 60 minutes while the safe is inside a furnace whose temperature increases in line with a standard model of fire temperature over time (NT FIRE 005/ISO 834). In other words, the Datacare 2001k ought to keep hard disks, backup tapes, photographic film, microfilm, CDs, DVDs, and USB memory sticks safe for at least one hour in the event of a typical domestic or office fire.

The Datacare 2001k also employs water resistant seals to protect the contents of the safe from minor flooding caused by fire hoses and broken pipes.

Using the Phoenix Datacare 2001k

The first thing you need to know about the Datacare 2001k is that it has a mass of 43kg (which is about half the mass of an average US male adult). So the weight of this product means that getting it delivered will become costly or impossible if the courier can't just pull up in their van and wheel a trolley a few metres to your door. You're likely to have particular trouble if you live higher than the ground floor in a building with no lift, or if there are even just a few steps anywhere between the road and your door. Check the delivery terms carefully before you place an order. And once you've taken delivery you may need a hand getting the safe out of the packaging and moving it into the desired position.

The external dimensions of the Datacare 2001k are 412mm high by 350mm wide by 432mm deep, which is small enough to fit unobtrusively even in a modest room. It's important to note that, due to the amount of insulation needed to protect the content of the safe from fire, the internal dimensions are much smaller at 245mm high by 155mm wide by 197mm deep. This is a very compact space, so make sure to measure any digital media devices you intend to store in the safe, to make certain that they will fit. For instance, my Maxtor Shared Storage Plus NAS drive cannot fit into the safe, but a 1TB Buffalo DriveStation External USB 3.0 Hard Drive fits very nicely.

Once the safe is in place you open the heavy outer door with either of the two keys which come as standard (though you can purchase additional keys at the time of ordering). A very small turn of the key moves the single door bolt aside, and a light pull on the key allows the door to swing open very smoothly. A hinge-side bolt stops the outer door being removed by tampering with the externally mounted hinges.

The inner door is watertight, and is opened by pushing in on one end of a lever handle so that the other end pops out, then pulling that end out to ninety degrees, rotating it to undo the latch, then pulling to open the door. (I only spell it out here because it took me a minute to work it out.)

Inside the protected compartment I found a desiccant pack, to absorb any moisture within. Probably this is only intended for shipping purposes, but it does make me wonder if there are situations in which a desiccant pack would need to be stored inside the compartment with your digital media devices, because moisture condensing inside the compartment could be bad news for an external hard drive. I'm guessing this would only happen if humid air was trapped in the safe and then the safe allowed to cool sufficiently, or opened to a room full of cool air. I've certainly not noticed any problem using the safe in my domestic setting in the UK. If you intend to use the safe in a humid environment (such as in a room with a clothes dryer) or in a place which is subject to temperature swings then you might be wise to invest in a reusable desiccant block which changes colour to indicate saturation.

Evaluating the Phoenix Datacare 2001k

I'm very pleased with the Phoenix Datacare 2001k. Compared to other fire safes I've seen in hardware stores, the Datacare 2001k is very solidly built and gives the impression of quality. It is correspondingly heavy, however, and this might cause problems in terms of delivery or moving. Conversely, it's not so heavy that it would stop a suitably strong burglar carrying it away with him. And the sixty minutes of rated protection may not be enough if a fire in the surrounding room is likely to burn for longer or burn hotter than the ISO 834 standard fire model.

But it is good to have a protective home for your media that ought to, at the very least, increase the chance of it surviving a drama, and the Phoenix Datacare 2001k gives the strong impression that it fits the bill.

Options and alternatives

I notice that Phoenix are now [November 2011] listing a Datacare DS2001k safe which has the same dimensions (and mass) as the Datacare 2001k, but the DS2001k features twin door bolts. So it looks like a refinement of the Datacare 2001k, and still offers the same NT FIRE 017 - 60 Diskette rating.

If you're a fan of electronic keypad locks, the Phoenix Datacare 2001e has the same specification as the 2001k but features an electronic lock. (Similarly you can get a Datacare DS2001e in place of the DS2001k.)

For bigger capacities and longer fire protection, Phoenix also make Datacare 2002k and Datacare 2003k models which come with 90 minute and 120 minute fire protection ratings respectively, and the option of having a fingerprint lock. The Datacare 2003k (and DS2003k) has a huge 80 litre capacity (compared to the 2001k's 7 litre capacity) and an internal shelf, but has a monstrous mass of 242kg.

If you want security for both paper and magnetic media, the Phoenix Data Combi series might meet your need. Each safe in this range has separate compartments for paper and data media, and also offers the option of securing the safe to the floor using the PAD4 base fixing system, so that a burglar cannot move the safe. This PAD4 option does considerably increase the cost.

SentrySafe also make a large range of fire safes. Be aware that many of the SentrySafe fire safes quote fire protection for media such as CDs, DVDs and USB memory sticks, but this does not include more delicate media such as backup tapes or photographic film. The reduced amount of insulation required does allow for more internal capacity, however.