If you manage a home office, then most likely you have asked yourself “Would I lose my priceless business data in a fire?” Then some late night when you can’t sleep you ask the next question “If I buy a media safe will it actually protect my data?” To find the answers to these questions you need to take an evening or two and dig into Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Here is a synopsis of research that the UL.com website provided for these questions.
Products may undergo four different fire resistance tests: 1) fire endurance test, 2) fire and impact test, 3) explosion hazard test, 4) combined explosion and impact test. Primary records consist of many types of documents – paper records, microfilm, computer media, etc. Each has a different degree of tolerance to temperature, humidity and length of time exposed to harmful elements. To allow for these differences, UL tests cover three different temperatures and five different time durations.
The temperature noted on the UL label is the maximum temperature allowed inside the fire protective product during the test. For example, if the temperature inside a safe or file exceeds 350°F, it will fail the UL test for paper rated products. For tapes, cartridges, microfiche, and microfilm, the limit is 150°F (with an 85% humidity restriction); for diskettes, the temperature cannot exceed 125°F (with an 80% humidity restriction).
The time noted on the UL label indicates how long the fire resistant product was tested to withstand exposure to extreme temperature and still maintain a safe temperature/humidity level inside. The time lengths are ½ hour, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, and 4 hours. Theses times do NOT represent the total time of the tests, for are they totally indicative of the amount of protection offered. One hour rated products offer more than “one hour’s” worth of protection.
Note on Computer Media:
Some articles have stated that computer media should be stored at a temperature of 70°F and a humidity level between 35% and 60%. These are the requirements for long term or normal day-in day-out storage. The UL requirements are designed to protect tapes and diskettes form intense heat and humidity for a critical period of time in the event of a fire. UL does not recommend that you store your diskettes and tapes at a 125°F, 80% humidity level on a regular basis.