The best personal safe
The standard advice for handling valuables such as jewelry, cash, important papers, or firearms is to store them in a safe place. The problem is that many storage options simply aren't as safe as you think. Storing everything in a secure bank vault isn't always a convenient option, either. This is why many people seek out some form of personal safe. These safes are often portable, yet they still provide solid protection against hackers, burglars, and even curious children.
When shopping for a personal safe, it is important to consider the type of valuables it will eventually store. Some users may want a padded case with an electronic lock for firearm storage, while others seek out a model that protects important papers from water or fire damage. Portability may be an important consideration for some, while others may want to install the safe in a permanent and secure location.
We've compiled a shortlist of the best personal safes currently on the market. If you are looking for a way to keep your valuables safe and secure, please continue to read this product summary. At the top of our list is the AmazonBasics' Security Safe, which is a portable but secure lockbox that is easy to program and easy to store.
Considerations when choosing personal safes
There are a number of different styles to choose from when shopping for a personal safe:
Freestanding: A freestanding safe may or may not be anchored to the floor or wall and is generally large enough to hold a wide variety of valuables.
Drawer: A more compact model is called a drawer safe, and it is commonly used to store firearms or medication because owners may need quick access to those items.
Lock box: A lock box is ideal in terms of portability, which is why many people carry them to outdoor events or vacations.
Wall: Wall safes are typically mounted in closets or other remote locations.
The type of locking mechanism on a personal safe is also a major consideration:
An electronic keypad with a numerical code is by far the most common, but sometimes the code can be compromised.
A key lock is secure, but the user must maintain physical custody of the key.
Some older personal safes still use dial locks, which can be troublesome to use, especially during an emergency.
The ultimate locking mechanism uses biometrics to analyze the authorized user's fingerprint for access.
Many personal safes are 100% waterproof, but fire protection is a different issue. A typical safe can protect documents from fire damage for about 30 minutes. Some high-end models offer an hour or more of fire protection, but eventually the air temperature will become too hot to prevent ignition. For maximum protection against fire damage, the personal safe should be rated for paper document storage and be portable.
A number of consumer-product-testing agencies, including Underwriters Laboratories (UL), have created a rating system for various types of home safes. The most basic personal safe should be able to withstand a sustained five-minute attack. Most personal safes can withstand attacks for at least 15 to 30 minutes. High-end safes with thick metal casings are designed to resist a blowtorch attack for as long as 30 minutes.
The cost of a personal safe depends not only on the model but also any additional steps required to install it securely. A basic freestanding safe or lock box can cost as little as $50, but security is a major consideration. A high-end wall safe or desk safe with an electronic lock can cost at least $200, but the contents will be better protected from the elements and sophisticated thieves.
Q. How can I protect my personal safe from hackers?
A. While it is nearly impossible to prevent all tampering efforts, you can invest in a personal safe with a built-in alarm system activated by unauthorized handling. Some models with electronic keypads will automatically lock down after a number of incorrect attempts. Periodically changing the lock code should also help.
Q. I live in an area prone to flooding. Should I invest in a waterproof personal safe?
A. If you live in an area where flooding is a distinct possibility, then a waterproof personal safe does make economic sense. However, many personal safes are easy to carry with you during an evacuation, so waterproofing or fire-proofing may be less important considerations than capacity and security.
Personal safes we recommend
Best of the best: AmazonBasics' Security Safe
Our take: Although not as heavy duty as a traditional wall safe, this personal safe box can protect important paperwork or store firearms.
What we like: Easy to program and change locking code. Can be mounted to wall, closet, or floor. Holds a surprising amount of valuables.
What we dislike: Design includes many plastic elements. Locking mechanism could be hacked by motivated thief.
Best bang for your buck: Safego's Portable Indoor/Outdoor Lock Box
Our take: This portable lock box is ideal for those who want to carry personal valuables, such as keys, wallets, and cash, on a camping trip or beach excursion.
What we like: Available in a wide assortment of colors. Resistant to outdoor weather conditions and elements. Designed to be carried to exterior locations.
What we dislike: Interior storage space is limited. Lock and key may have quality-control issues. Heavier than expected.
Our take: The Stack-On drawer safe can safely store medications, small firearms, or important papers in a bedside or home office drawer and still provide quick access during emergencies.
What we like: Padded interior protects valuables. Easy to store in remote or hidden locations. Works well as a portable safe for evacuations.
What we dislike: Unmodified locking mechanisms can be opened with a paper clip. Not weather-resistant; indoor use recommended. Does not provide fast access to firearms.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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