GNARBOX 2.0 Rugged Backup Device 2020 Latest Updated Review

GNARBOX 2.0 Rugged Backup Device 2020 Latest Updated Review

The GNARBOX 2.0 SSD is built with a rugged military spec designed to withstand water, dust, and dirt. Outside, the metal enclosure and gasket-sealed port doors help protect against dust and dirt. Inside, a solid-state drive means your data is safe in case of a drop


The GNARBOX 2.0 SSD 256GB Rugged Backup Device offers users up to 256GB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage for backing up photos, videos, and other files.

These single-step, one-touch backups with status and checksum can be performed without your laptop, phone, or tablet using the onboard OLED screen and buttons.

Content can be backed up to the GNARBOX 2.0 SSD using its two USB 3.0 Type-C ports or its SD card reader.

The USB 3.0 Type-C ports feature data transfer speeds of up to 350 MB/s, while the SD card slot operates up to 75 MB/s.

Users will also be able to collaborate and share content on HDMI-enabled displays using the integrated micro-HDMI port.

The GNARBOX 2.0 SSD also features software applications that allow users to advance their professional workflow.

Use the Safekeep app for field backups, with file/folder organization and tools for file management. Photographers will appreciate the Selects app, which allows them to preview raw photos, mark selects, use metadata, and prepare images for further editing.


  • Built very well. It used to overheat, and then a firmware update fixed it.
  • Lightweight
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Incredibly fast SD card transfer
  • Easy to create and organize folders
  • Their app can read a ton of different RAW files


  • Painful to use with a computer
  • You need to start the GNARBOX 2.0 (which is slow), then reboot it in Dual USB Mode, then wait for it to restart, and then connect it to your computer
  • Home mode is the only other way to edit off of the GNARBOX 2.

Build Quality


The GNARBOX 2.0 is built like a tank. The waterproofing rating is something every photographer should be expecting from their gear these days.

Of course, this is also permitting that the flaps are all sealed. For the photographer who travels a lot, know that the GNARBOX 2.0 was stored in the side of my Tenba DNA Backpack.

It journeyed with me while going in and out of many airports. It survived X-Ray after X-Ray and about a total of eight during the duration of my testing.

For a short amount of time, it also rained in NYC, but we didn’t let the GNARBOX 2.0 sit in water like they’re stating it can. As far as the build quality goes, I can’t complain about the GNARBOX 2.0 at all.

Ease Of Use

To start up the GNARBOX 2.0, you can’t just plug and play. Instead, it’s designed to work first and foremost off of WiFi: it generates its own.

So you’ll need to press and hold the right button. Then, GNARBOX 2.0 will take its sweet time to activate. Once this is done, make sure that you’ve got both GNARBOX 2.0 apps downloaded.

Yes, there are two. Why? That’s one of the most non-sensical things about the GNARBOX 2.0 user experience.

Everything should be under one app. But here, one app helps you organize and sort your images while the other is about managing metadata and such.

When you’re on the road, you can insert an SD card into the GNARBOX 2.0 and import the images. Once they’re available and on the drive, you can load up something like Lightroom Mobile and edit.

Whats More

The Gnarbox 2.0 features a removable battery on the back, which initially struck us as a bit strange for a hard drive, until we learned more about the brand’s thinking there.

Time and elements degrade batteries but not solid state drive (SSD) memory, so it only made sense to make the weakest technological link easily replaceable.

Ditto for everything from accidental dunks in water or mud to extreme cold.

The Safekeep and Selects Apps

Once your device is connected to the Gnarbox’s local WiFi network, the Settings tab’s Connection Manager in both apps can walk you through the process of switching between modes.

The Safekeep app does more than manage the Gnarbox’s network connection and settings, though. It’s also the primary browser of the device’s file system.

The Gnarbox’s tiny onboard OLED screen is text only and doesn’t provide a UI for navigating its folder hierarchy, so to view the photos and video backed up to it, you need another computing device.

Safekeep works well enough for what it does, but overall it’s far less integrated with iOS and iPadOS than an app like it should be.

Still, the app performs as promised, handling most of the file browsing and management tasks people need, including moving among nested folders and performing file actions like copying, moving, and deleting files.

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