Hard drive backup made easy

Not so long ago, backing up your data was an onerous task. The process was painful and ugly.

Life is a lot nicer these days when it comes to backup technology, because hard drive makers are eager to please consumers. Wnen we started ignoring them because their hard drives weren’t easy to use, they decided to get our attention again by innovating. If you’re a hard drive maker, it’s always a good idea to make life easier for your customers.

Seagate is one of those companies that fell out of focus; if you have one of their products inside your computer you probably don’t know it. Now there is a reason to rediscover them because they have a comely external hard drive that offers a one-button backup feature. And, boy oh boy, have they created a winner!

If you read this column regularly, you know that a while back I poked a stick at the Maxtor OneTouch external hard drive, a direct competitor to the Seagate device, and bellyached that the Maxtor was temperamental. The Seagate people have done a much better job.

The 200 GB external hard drive comes in a black and silver box that sits pertly on your desk next to your computer. You connect with either a USB 2.0 or FireWire cable (both are included), and then install a small program on your computer called Bounceback Express. It’s a lean but smart little program that takes inventory of all the data on your computer, and then backs it up to the Seagate hard drive. Once it’s finished, it only backs up changed or new files the next time. It’s clever, straightforward, and without fuss. (Don’t confused backup technology with vehicle backup technology. We are talking computers here.)

Maxtor’s drive works with something called Retrospect Express, which is a separate software product adapted for use with it. The problem is that there’s a whole lot of overhead and opportunity for confusion with the program’s stand-alone features. Moreover, if the automated backup doesn’t start correctly, you get asked a lot of weird questions about source and destination drives and volumes and mounting and other headache-inducing lingo.

Like the Maxtor OneTouch, the Seagate has a one-touch backup button and, like the Maxtor, the software fails to recover gracefully when a computer crashes in the middle of a backup. It should recognize the problem and ask if the backup should continue after the system recovers, but it doesn’t.

Still, I like the Seagate product better than the Maxtor. If you need an external backup product, I highly recommend it.

Buy it at [link removed].com

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