Like other SimpleTech drive products, SimpleTough comes with two backup solutions: local backup using an Hitachi-branded version of ArcSofts TotalMedia Backup software, and online backup 2GB free with Hitachi Ultimate Backup.
The Backup Now option first asks you to choose which type of backup you want to do. If you select Local Backup, the SimpleTough automatically installs TotalMedia Backup on your computer. The program doesnt automatically launch on completion of the install, however.
In its simplest mode, you choose types of files photos, videos, music, personal documents and it finds them wherever they are on the host computers drives. You can also choose whether to do a full backup or an incremental backup that only copies new files or those changed since the last backup.
In this simple mode, TotalMedia will automatically select all files of chosen types, including some you dont necessarily want to keep photo files included with application programs, for example. The interface does let you view a list of selected files, but it doesnt let you alter it.
With Advanced mode, however, you can select individual folders and subfolders to back up. By default, it will back up every file in those folders, regardless of type. But the Options menu provides a way to specify file types you want to include, or exclude, by typing in their file extensions e.g. .doc or .jpg. TotalMedia also lets you schedule either advanced or simple backups.
Our first backup 96GB took about 3.5 hours, a transfer rate of about 62 megabits per second (Mpbs). This may sound slow and is certainly a fraction of the theoretical top speed of USB 2.0 connections, 480 Mbps. But its quite respectable, especially for a portable drive, which spins its disc more slowly than fixed drives.
Backup programs also encrypt and compress files as they go, which slows transfers. And keep in mind that if you choose incremental backups, after the first run, you will only be backing up new or changed files, which can reduce backup times to seconds or minutes.
Hitachi Ultimate Backup is the same service that SimpleTech offers under the Fabrik name, which we have discussed here in the context of other online backup services, and here in the context of another SimpleTech product, the Re:Drive. Its a good backup option.
The Rugged Factor
We tested the SimpleToughs shock resistence last, as it would have been difficult to check other functions if it failed the drop test. We also did not take Hitachi at its word and drop it from a full three meters. However, we did drop it from about six feet on pavement where it bounced once.
The enclosure was unmarked and the files were intact when we plugged it back into a computer.
SimpleTech provides no elaboration on the SimpleToughs spill resistance so we were similarly conservative in testing, merely dribbling small amounts of tea on the device where it behaved like water off a ducks back.
The SimpleTough is a great portable drive rugged, cool-looking and thoughtfully designed with its integrated cable. That in itself makes it a good backup device because its easy and safe to carry offsite for increased security.But the noted shortcoming in the consumer-grade software its inability to back up open files means its not an ideal small business backup device at least not out of the box. You could always use it with more sophisticated software.
Gerry Blackwell is a freelance technology writer based in London, Canada. Read his blog, AfterByte
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