The last post was about why most fire safes are not appropriate for securing collections of historic documents, signatures, stamps, etc. Media/data safes are the best way to store these items.
Media safes are built to protect computer discs, tapes, thumb drives, etc., which get damaged at much lower temperatures than paper. 175 to 200 degrees F – or high humidity — is all it takes to ruin discs and tapes. Data safe insulation does not give off moisture like traditional fire safes, and it will keep the inside temps lower. During the same test in which the inside of fire safes must stay below 350 F, the inside of data safes must remain below 125 F or 150 F, (lower than the melting point of plastics). While the inside of most fire safes will become saturated with moisture in a fire, data safes are built to stay under 80% humidity. Doors on media safes are also more air tight, and many units even have two air tight doors.
There are trade-offs with media safes, however. Thicker walls and doors mean that for safes with comparable exterior dimensions, data safes will be smaller inside. They are not as burglary resistant as some other safes, either; it makes sense to keep the safe holding your collection in a locked room. Cost of a new data safe is about three times that of other types. But since few businesses now use data safes, used ones are selling cheap.
For example, the used Schwab 1844CTS pictured is rated 1Hour/125 F. During the one hour test up to 1700 F, the inside will stay under 125 F at less than 80% humidity. It is 50.5”h x 22.75w x 13d outside, 38.5 x 12.8 x 13 inside. Original list price was over $8000, but we’ll sell it in like-new condition for $1000.
Don’t let your bit of history be ruined in a fire. Protect your collection in a data safe.