Go Green (Really Green) With Your Hard Drive

The latest buzzword in technology today is “green,” which is basic shorthand for products, services and strategies designed to reduce the harmful impact we humans have on the environment. Incorporating green technology into your business can save you money, and it may even help you feel better about yourself, but what, exactly, does “green” look like?

Well, according to the folks over at Fabrik, it looks a lot like bamboo.

Bamboo? Yep. Welcome to the world of eco-friendlier external hard drives. Fabrik calls its SimpleTech [re]Drive the “world’s most energy-efficient, resource-conscious, Turbo USB 2.0 external storage and backup drive.”

The company built the drive housing out of bamboo and aluminum, materials that are, respectively, the most renewable wood and the most recycle-able metal in the world – according to Matt McRae, Fabrik’s vice president of marketing.

“The bamboo is not a veneer. It’s a solid, structural, functional element of the drive,” he said. “Moreover, it’s steam-pressed with water ‑ without any glues – and it’s grown local to our manufacturer in China, which reduces the cost and carbon footprint of shipping it over long distances.”

Fabrik's SimpleTech [re]Drive
Pass the Wasabi: What looks like an elegant way to serve sushi is, in fact, Fabrik’s eco-friendly, bamboo-encased external drive.

Fabrik chose an aluminum casing for both it recycle-ability and it’s durability. The casing also doubles as a heat sink, McRae said, which lets the drive remain cool without an internal fan. This, he contends, reduces both the amount of energy the drive uses and the amount of noise it generates.

The [re]Drive’s other eco-friendly features include

  • The hard drive itself: low-powered with a variable spin speed – higher than 5,000 RPM and less than 7,200 RPM. McRae noted that it’s 40 percent more efficient than standard USB drives.
  • A level four Energy Star power adapter – 30 percent more energy-efficient compared to the typical power adapter that ships with an external hard drive.
  • An automatic on/off feature (no external power switch). This software feature lets the drive sense whenever the PC shuts down or goes into sleep mode and turns itself off.

McRae claimed that Fabrik’s internal testing showed that the cumulative affect of drive, adapter and auto shutoff provides up to 90 percent energy savings over standard external USB 2.0 hard drives. For anyone concerned about sacrificing performance for the greater environmental good, McRae also said that the [re]Drive’s designation as a Turbo USB 2.0 drive means that it’s 25 percent faster than a standard USB 2.0 drive.

The [re]Drive’s environmental focus extends to its packaging, which McRae said contains only the bare essentials. “The box is a single piece of cardboard, and we did away with bags and inserts,” he said. “The only in-box items that aren’t part of the actual box are two end caps that hold the drive, and they’re made from 100 percent recycled newspaper.” You’ll find the user guide and software saved in digital form on the drive.

What about all the other Fabrik drives? “Developing this green product has led to a green initiative and is driving packaging changes within the company,” said McRae. “Anything that we can translate from [re]Drive will go into the company’s other products.”

The Software Side

The PC- and Mac-compatible drive also comes with Fabrik’s backup software that lets you choose the type of data files you want saved plus the date, time and frequency of your local backups. Fabrik includes wizards to lead you through a one-time set up, and other software includes virus protection, but only for the PC crowd.

Like other Fabrik drives, the SimpleTech [re]Drive also comes with Fabrik Ultimate Backup, an online data protection service that lets you store your critical data off-site – safe from physical threats such as fire, flood or other disasters. Buy a drive and get a free 2GB account – or you can opt to buy unlimited storage for less than $5 per month.

The 500 GB drive costs $159.99 (MSRP), which McRae said is about $10 – $20 more than an external USB 2.0 drive without the energy-saving capability.

“At Fabrik, we’re making an effort to support the environment, while adapting our products to better meet consumer needs and interests,” said McRae. “We know we have a lot more work to do across the board as a company, but we’re committed to change and hope we’ll make a small dent in improving the environment – through our products, services, partner choices and company best practices.”

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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