ABSplus & Personal Storage 5000

Introduction

Like going to the gym three times a week or drinking eight pints of water a day, an effective backup strategy isn’t the easiest routine to stick to. Losing your files is a real sucker, though. If you’ve ever lost but then suddenly found valuable files you’d spent hours working on, you’ll know the pleasure rush that’s possible with probably the most boring computing task since anti-virus protection. Backup is such a sensible thing to do that it hurts to have to think about it. That’s why 95 per cent of us don’t bother. The shocking thing is that backup isn’t difficult, and needn’t be expensive – yet it can save you hours of valuable work time. Imagine what losing a day or even a week’s work would mean to your business. Or consider the consequences of losing all your email, Web bookmarks or address-book contact details. Isn’t investing a little time and money worth it for peace of mind alone? Two new FireWire hard-disk solutions attempt to make the whole backup process as unforbidding as possible. The first, from CMS, backs up whenever you plug the portable drive into your Mac. Another, from hard-disk specialist Maxtor, claims to be as simple as pushing a button. Installing and using each is simple – a boon for people overwhelmed by the prospect of backing up. ABSplus
CMS Peripherals’ ABSplus (Automatic Backup System) is isn’t perfect – but it is an integrated hardware-and-software solution, so it’s faster and easier to get started with than most other combination backup programs and storage devices. We reviewed the portable models; desktop models from 40GB (£229) to 160GB (£385). CMS claims that the ABSplus can withstand a G-force as high as 1,400. It shrugged off drops from three feet high onto carpeted and tiled floor, and from six feet onto carpeted floor. It survived its first 11-foot tumble to tiles, but a bad bounce the second time around rendered it useless. ABSSettings lets you configure backup options. ABSLauncher watches for the drive to mount and then launches ABSBackup to backup changed files. And ABSReminder prompts you when you haven’t backed up within your set number of days. After installation, and whenever you connect the ABSplus, ABSBackup launches, scans your drive, and copies new or changed files to the ABSplus – you don’t have to configure anything. ABSBackup stores files in their native format, in a folder structure that matches the structure of the source disk. Assuming you’ve done a full backup, you can boot your (or any) Mac from the ABSplus in either OS 9 or OS X – and use it just as you would any other external hard drive. ABSBackup properly adds new files to the ABSplus and replaces modified files, but it doesn’t delete files from the ABSplus if you’ve deleted, renamed or moved them on the source disk. Aside from possibly filling up the ABSplus drive well before the Mac’s internal hard drive is full, this flaw means that restoring the entire hard disk would require weeding out duplicate files you had long ago deleted or filed elsewhere. Personal Storage 5000
Maxtor’s Personal Storage 5000 drives come in three desktop variants: the 80GB 5000LE; 120GB 5000DV; and 250GB 5000XT. The DV and XT boast FireWire and USB 2.0/1.1, while the LE features just the USB 2.0/1.1 links. Go for FireWire rather than USB. The idea behind the range is a simple one: press the button on the front of the drive to backup. After some initial setup, that’s it. Because it uses Dantz’s Retrospect Express software, you can customize and schedule your backup strategy to a greater extent than with the ABSPlus. Backup scenarios
Backup isn’t even half the game; all efforts will be in vain if you can’t properly restore from your backup when one of the following four basic disaster scenarios occurs: 1. You accidentally delete a file or folder. No problem – just find the backed-up file or folder on both solutions and copy it to your hard drive, as you normally would in the Finder. 2. You discover a corrupted file. If you’ve backed up since the corruption happened, you’re out of luck, since the ABSplus will have replaced the last good version with the corrupted file. Unlike both Backup Toolkit and Dantz’s more powerful Retrospect Express Backup, the ABSplus currently offers no way to save multiple versions of the same file, apart from backing up to multiple ABSplus drives on a regular rotation. Retrospect includes the option to store a brand new copy of your entire hard drive every time you backup. Obviously, this will swallow storage rapidly – but will allow uncorrupted files to be recovered. 3. You need to restore everything to an empty drive. Neither drive features a one-button restore process, but dragging files from the backup isn’t too laborious. 4. You lose your Mac in a fire or robbery. The only thing that protects data from such a situation is an off-site backup – you can easily transport the 198g ABSplus portable models – which draw power via FireWire – to another location. Not many will fancy lugging the much-bulkier 1.2kg Maxtor drive around.
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