Green Backups: The SimpleTech [re]Drive Review - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell | Posted October 20, 2008

Missed Files

The almost 7,000 “photo” files found in our test run included many we did want to back up – but not all of them. In this mode, the program apparently recognizes some common image file types, but not others.

In our test, it recognized JPEGs, the most common type, and files edited in Adobe PhotoShop with the .PSD extension. But it did not select for backup hundreds of RAW (.NEF) photo files uploaded from a Nikon digital SLR.

This is curious because in the Advanced Backup mode ‑‑ where it’s possible to include or exclude file types ‑‑ files with the .NEF extension appear in the list of recognized types.

While the software scans your drive for media files, you can choose the destination for your backup, first by selecting the appropriate drive from a drop-down list, then selecting or typing in a folder location.

You would think the Redrive would be selected by default since the software ships with the product, but the Redrive did not even appear in the drop-down list of available drives. Nor did any of the other external drives attached to the test computer.

This was despite the Redrive (and the other drives) being connected properly, turned on and appearing in Windows My Computer.

There is a solution. You can select the Redrive as the destination using the Browse option, which is really there so you can select a destination folder for the backup once you’ve chosen a drive.

Advanced Backup

TotalMedia Backup somewhat redeems itself with its Advanced Backup mode. The problem with Redrive not appearing among the available destination drives occurs here too, but the same solution is available.

And here you can at least select which folders to back up – although some folders would not expand in the TotalMedia file selector dialog, so it was impossible to select only certain subfolders within them. (This may, however, have been a Windows Vista issue, not a problem with TotalMedia.)

Also, as noted, you can select file types from an exhaustive list to include or exclude – and add new file types by typing in their extensions.

Online Backup

The Redrive’s second backup option could also be useful. You can open a Fabrik Ultimate Backup account and download and use the software for free. The free service lets you back up as much as 2GB of data off-site onto Fabrik servers.

This probably won’t be enough to back up all your data files, though. Fabrik charges $4.95 per month per computer for an Unlimited Storage Account which, as the name suggests, give you unlimited capacity.

The software was created by a different supplier than TotalMedia Backup, so the interface is different, which is unfortunate. A single interface for configuring both would have been nice.

Ultimate Backup provides a fair amount of flexibility around when, how frequently and under what circumstances it backs up your files, and how much of your computer’s processing power it uses when backing up. For example, you can tell it to only back up after the computer has been idle for 30 minutes. Or you can use the slider scale to increase the speed of backups or minimize the drain on the computer’s resources.

Depending how you configure the program, initial backups can take many hours or even days, but subsequent differential backups should take much less time – and fewer computing resources.

Ultimate Backup does preserve several versions of files that you change, so you can restore an earlier version if you change your mind about modifications. And it does let you choose which folders and subfolders to backup, though not which file types. 

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a 500GB external hard drive, especially if you want it as a backup drive, Redrive should be on your list of candidates.

It’s competitively priced, the backup software is, at worst, adequate and better than the software bundled with some external drives. The online backup service is a nice throw-in, although you can get 2GB or more of free online storage from other sources as well.

The environmental pitch is of course a marketing ploy, but there is also substance to Fabrik’s claims for the product being green. If that’s important to you, and it should be, move Redrive up the list.

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

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