Pros: One-button backup works well and can be used for multiple machines.
Cons: "Sync" software is dangerous. Documentation is awful but largely unnecessary
For those of us with a spare hard drive lying around, an external enclosure is an excellent idea.Opening the box I found: Enclosure, plastic stand, power brick, CD, two rubber pads., six screws, manual, installation sheet.
This case is made of aluminum (or “aluminium”, as the Brits call it). Some will complain that the case gets hot, but that means that your drive isn't... aluminum is a good conductor of heat (which is why it is used in CPU heatsinks); this will help to keep your drive cool – and a cool drive is a happy drive.
The front and back plates are made of plastic. The back plate has a USB “B” socket, an input for power, and an on/off switch. The front panel has a single LED and a single button.
Unlike my other enclosures, this one uses a standard wall-wart-type power supply, as opposed to the blocky laptop-style monstrosities used by other enclosures, which is a definite plus.
Installation is relatively straightforward and requires only a small Philips screwdriver: Remove the backplate, connect power and data, screw down the drive, slide he whole thing back together (not forgetting the LED connection), fasten the backplate using two small black screws... and you're done.
Be careful, though, when putting it back together; the first time I did it wrong and the fit was so tight I nearly broke the thing trying to take it apart again.
Neither the manual nor the website mention the maximum size of Hard Drive that this will handle, but I was able to mount 250GB and 400GB Hard Drives without problem. Well, almost without problem – the 400GB drive would not work. I noticed that the 250GB drive had been jumpered for "Cable Select". I changed the other one from "Master" to “Cable Select” jumper and everything was fine.
The enclosed CD has drivers for Windows 98, Vista and Mac OS9 and 10, along with a Windows version of a utility called VBTUCopy. This utility installs in Windows and sits in the already-crowded system tray and allows specified file copying operations to automagically happen when the drive is connected and the button is pressed.
The software supports several copying strategies, including backups and sync. The “Backup” option works fine – better than fine. You can install the software on multiple machines, and then do automated backups by plugging in and pressing a button. On my machines I was able to back up in excess of 1GB of Data per minute, which is about what one would expect from USB2.0.
The “Sync” option, however, does not work worth a damn: It “restores” files that you had previously moved or deleted; this is an annoyance; if you move a file from one directory to another you could end up with two copies and all the confusion that this entails.
The second failing is more serious: if you sync a file and then update both copies (the one on the computer and the one on the external drive). Instead of alerting the user that both files have changed, the “sync” operation will overwrite the “older” file with the “newer” one. In a situation where two people are updating the same document and one of them loses all of their work, this can be heartbreaking. This is not what you would expect from a true sync routine like “Allway Sync”, which I use and recommend.
My recommendation is to use this software for manual and automated backups only – the ”sync” option is more trouble than it is worth until/unless they fix the software (curiously enough, while this product is shown on http://www.cptechusa.com, no drivers or other downloads are available for this product).
The LED on the front panel Color shines red when the drive is connected and blue when disconnected or accessing the Hard Drive. This seems wrong to me – I intuitively tend to associate red lights with danger - do not disconnect", so it occurs to me that it should be Red when accessing the Hard Disk, and perhaps Green when connected, Blue when disconnected. Or something like that. But that is a minor quibble.
The case has tiny stick-on Rubber Feet on the side, for use if you do not wish to use the stand. Unfortunately these feet are not very well stuck down, and tend to fall off when you are installing the drive.
The documentation is execrable; it is a good thing it is not needed. The manual is actually not all that bad, but the print is tiny and the screenshots, while plentiful, are unreadable. The real fun is in the truly abysmal additional hardware installation sheet – the first clue is the title "HDD Assemble Illustration". This was apparently translated from the original Sumerian language to "Engrish" by two Tibetan Yaks – featuring consistent use of the non-word "Enclosuer” and ending with the hysterical "Is good with machine plank according to the right method conjunction the hard dish, lock the right and HDD, can immediately trust the usage". Sadly it did not mention the stuff you really wanted to know - like Drive capacity and jumpers, or where to put those two rubber pads…