A long time ago I had a major hard drive crash. Yes, I created backups, but not very often because at that time you had to backup your data to floppy disks and it was a major pain in the you know what. With the advent of Zip drives and CD burners, backing up became a bit easier, but it was still quite a bit of trouble. Today, however, hard drive prices have come way down and with USB and FireWire, it’s extremely easy to connect new peripherals to your PC. Enter external hard drives that connect via USB/FireWire and backups are now easy for everyone. One such product is the SmartDisk External Hard Drive from Verbatim.
The SmartDisk is an external FireWire/USB 2.0 hard drive that can be used for anything pertaining to saving or transferring data. The drive comes in a single configuration that works on both the PC and Mac. When using the Mac, however, you must have OS 9.2 or later in order to take advantage of the USB 2.0 performance. One other Mac caveat is that the included software is for Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher. The drive measures 4.53” x 7.91” x 1.53” and weighs about 1.98 lbs. So while it's not really designed for on-the-go usage, it's a solid device with a sleek metal casing that should provide many years of service.
I tested the drive under Windows Vista. The drive provides two FireWire ports and one USB port. When connecting to one FireWire port, the other can be used to daisy-chain another FireWire device. I would have liked to see another USB port for this purpose as well. Since we’re talking FireWire/USB here, installing the drive is as easy as it gets. Just connect a port on the drive to a port on your PC with one of the included cables. Both FireWire and USB cables are included although they are a bit short for my liking. If you want to place the drive any distance away for your PC, you'll need to get a longer cable. You'll also need a free AC power outlet because the drive requires the use of a power adapter.
Windows automatically recognizes the drive when you press its power button (a nice addition because not all external drives include them, which can be a hassle when you want to keep the drive connected but turned off). No driver software is needed. I imagine the procedure is just as easy on a Mac, although I don’t have a Mac computer so I couldn’t test it. The drive is also compatible with Windows 2000, but not with any older versions of Windows. Also, if your PC has the older USB 1.1 ports, the SmartDisk will still work, but it won’t perform nearly as well as it does with USB 2.0 ports. So, you may want to upgrade your PC with a USB 2.0 PCI card.
In addition to the drive and cables, the package includes a short instruction booklet and one software product for Mac and Windows called CMS BounceBack Express (included on the SmartDisk). The software is a scaled-down version of BounceBack Professional and can be installed just like any other program. You can even make a backup copy for safe keeping. Once installed, BounceBack Express provides the following features:
* Initial Backup - Your entire system drive is automatically backed up as soon as you complete installation of BounceBack.
* Backup Sets - The Settings feature allows you to create and modify Backup Sets. Each Backup Set allows you to specify a unique set of backup characteristics such a data selection, scheduling, and power down.
* Data Selection - Data for backup is selectable by drive, folder, file or file type.
* Scheduling - Backups may be automated by scheduling them. Schedules can be specified by time and date, for one-time events, or on a daily or monthly basis.
* Power Down - Your computer can be set to power down on completion of backup.
* Backup - Once you have created one or more Backup Sets, the Backup feature allows you to select and run a Backup Set at any time.
* QuickRestore - This feature restores files, reports file status between the backup device and computer. Files can be restored to their origin location or redirected to another location.
* Native File Format - Backups are in ‘native file format.’ This means that backed up data is always available, there is no special software needed to view files or data, and files can be restored in seconds by drag and drop or by using QuickRestore.
* Options - This feature allows you to specify global backup and device options.
* Internal Backup - Supports the use of internal hard drives as backup devices.
* Data Management - Supports backup drive data management, when files are no longer needed on the backup hard drive they can be reviewed and purged from the backup drive.
* Auto Launch - Any time you connect an external designated backup device to your computer, this feature scans your system disk for new or modified files and automatically backs them up to the backup device.
I like the solid construction of the SmartDisk. I also like the easy installation procedure. The included software is very useful. And since the SmartDisk contains a 7,200 RPM drive, the performance of the drive is excellent, as long as you use USB 2.0 or FireWire. Because of the high RPM rating (and the choice of either 1TB or 500GB capacity), you can use the SmartDisk for multimedia applications (like real-time audio or video recording), making this drive a nice option for laptop users needing a faster drive for this type of work. The SmartDisk is an excellent product and a great choice for anyone needing a quick and easy way to add more storage to their computer system.
For more information:
* Verbatim SmartDisk 1TB FireWire/USB External Hard Drive
* Verbatim SmartDisk 500GB FireWire/USB External Hard Drive