Fujitsu Europe is offering the optional fitting of its latest hard drive series MHW2xxxBH with a freefall sensor (FFS). Laptop makers including Lenovo have built similar protection in their computers, but Fujitsu has integrated it in the drive itself.

According to Fujitsu, the sensor uses the time between being dropped and hitting something to protect the hard drive against head crashes. The new technology is primarily targeted at mobile users so, if a notebook falls off a table during flight turbulence, the sensor is activated and protects the hard drive from potential data loss or damage.

According to Fujitsu, it uses ramp load technology to move the read/write head from the magnetic medium onto the ramp while the drive is in freefall, thus preventing the head from striking the medium. Once the heads are on the ramp, both they and the medium itself are protected from an impact and the danger of a head crash is reduced.

The sensor self-activates for falls from a height of about 20cm or more, said Fujitsu. It also protects the data being processed in the event of falls from lesser heights.

The sensor deactivates once the system is motionless, and the data meanwhile remains available in the drive’s buffer memory and drive rotation is not interrupted. Users can then take up the read/write process exactly where they left off and resume without delay, reckoned Fujitsu.

Fujitsu said it was offering this new protection mechanism as an option to all SATA-hard disc drives of the MHWxxxxBH-series with a capacity of 40 to 160 GB, and it will be included in all new models.

The system is akin to and offers similar benefits to the motion sensors that IBM built into its ThinkPad range of notebooks, now sold by Lenovo, although these were not integrated into the hard drive.