Do Shockproof Items Really Work?

They feature a rubberized material meant to absorb the shock of a fall

When an item is advertised as shockproof, it means the item can be dropped from a significant height and still function afterward. The shock refers to the impact the drive experiences upon landing. For example, shockproof cases for iPhones and Android devices are designed to withstand minor bumps and falls.

Shockproof hard drive
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What Is a Shockproof Device?

Shockproof devices usually feature a rubberized material around them meant to absorb the shock from unexpected impact. Some companies call such items drop-proof rather than shockproof.

Before you purchase a shockproof hard drive, check the warranty to see what is meant by the designation and whether the company tests items after production. For shock-resistant phone cases, you need to check the item's description to determine whether it's supposed to survive a drop of three feet (one meter) or higher. Some are shockproof for a six-foot (two-meter) drop. Such phone cases usually encase the front of the phone's camera lens as well.

Shockproof doesn't mean that an item is insulated from static electricity or able to function after sustaining an electrical surge. You should use all normal precautions to keep the item from being damaged by electricity.

Military Standard 810G - 516.6

You may see items labeled as shock-resistant to Military Standard 810G - 516.6. This refers to a method of testing shock-resistance for military-grade items as outlined in Military Standard 810G. This standard lists testing methods for several kinds of shock, including:

  • 503.5 Temperature Shock
  • 516.6: Electrical Shock
  • 517.1 Pyroshock (from an explosion)
  • 519.6: Gunfire Shock
  • 522.1: Ballistic Shock

The standards for testing 516.6 are for infrequent, non-repetitive shocks that might happen during handling, transportation, or when an item is serviced. If the item passes this standard, it doesn't mean it can survive shocks from ballistic impacts, gunfire, or explosions. However, if you drop it, it may survive intact. Depending on the item, this standard outlines tests for functional shock, material to be transported, fragility, transit drop, crash hazard shock, bench handling, pendulum impact, and catapult launch/arrested landing.

ISO 1413 Standard for Shock-Resistant Watches

The shock-resistance standard for watches was set by the International Organization for Standardization. Watches that pass this test keep time accurately after falling one meter onto a flat hardwood surface. That's something that could easily happen if a watch slips off your wrist.

Shockproof watches are also tested by applying two shocks with a hard plastic hammer delivering a precise amount of energy. It's hit on the nine o'clock side and on the crystal face with a three-kilogram hammer at a set velocity. The watch is deemed shock-resistant if it keeps time accurately to within 60 seconds per day as it did before the shock test.