ABSplus SATA 120 Mac review

There was a time when it was quite easy to copy your Mac’s System Folder – the folder containing the main Mac OS software – onto an external hard drive and use that to start up your Mac if anything ever went wrong with the Mac’s own built-in hard drive.

For reasons best known to itself, Apple has made that process more complicated in recent years. It is possible to use Time Machine in OS X 10.5 to reinstall your entire system, but in order to do this you need to start up the Mac using your original OS X DVD, and then transfer all the required files across from the external hard drive that holds all your Time Machine backups.

However, the (somewhat clumsily named) ABSplus SATA 120 Mac from CMS provides a useful alternative. The package consists of a portable USB hard drive, along with a backup program called BounceBack Professional. The hard drive itself is a fairly conventional portable device, primarily designed for use with laptop computers, although there’s no reason why you couldn’t use it with a desktop Mac too. Our review unit was a 120GB model priced at £150, although there are other models ranging from 80GB to 320GB in size (the 320GB model is less than £20 more expensive, so actually represents much better value for money). Our model also came wrapped in a tough rubber jacket to provide extra protection when you’re carrying the drive around with you.

The real selling point, though, is the BounceBack Professional software. As well as simply being used to backup your important work files, BounceBack Professional also allows you to make a ‘bootable’ backup of your Mac’s hard drive that can be used to start up the Mac if its own hard drive gets damaged. Creating a bootable startup disk requires that you make a complete copy of the Mac’s system software, and this took about 45 minutes on our trusty old white MacBook model. However, you only need to do this once, and you can then start up the Mac using the ABSplus simply by holding down the Alt key when you turn on the Mac.

This could certainly be useful if your laptop ever gets damaged and, if you’ve got a relatively recent Mac that uses a SATA drive you can even remove the ABSplus drive from its casing and use it to replace the Mac’s original drive altogether. Our only complaint is that the manual supplied with the drive is rather out of date, full of technical waffle, and doesn’t make this process at all clear.

OUR VERDICT

To be honest, the ABSplus drive itself is nothing special. In fact, at almost £140 for 120GB it’s a lot more expensive than most portable hard drives we’ve seen recently. However, the real value lies in the BounceBack Professional software and its ability to create an emergency bootable hard drive, which could be invaluable for business users who can’t afford to take any risks with their laptop when they’re on the road

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