Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just use the generic backup

kw: product testing, backup software

I do very few product reviews, but I just gotta do this one. The short report: The hardware is good, the software is not. Read on.

I bought a Toshiba Canvio 0.5TB external drive, which comes with NTI Backup Now EZ software for you to install on your computer. I did so on my Lenovo laptop and my homebrew ultra-fast desktop.

They do try to make the software easy to use. It presented me with two possible backup jobs, one a total system image, the other a backup of the document files gleaned from everywhere. On the Lenovo I chose the second option, and changed its direction a little, but left most settings default. Bottom line: it ran for ten hours, backing up 26 Gby of files.

I was a little bothered by that, but I decided to try it with my faster computer. This time, I pointed it at the C drive documents, and also the entirety of an external drive where I keep large files and archives. The total backup volume was 64 Gby. I also upped its "impact" setting to the maximum, for fastest backup. Early feedback from the program indicated that I was in for about a twelve-hour wait. After 12 hours, it was 97% done, but then it sat there. There is another feedback indicator that I could watch to see how frequently the next 10-Mby chunk was copied over. This was going slower and slower, so when it reported 98% done after four more hours, I aborted the program using Task Manager. There is no way provided by the NTI software to cut a backup short.

Of course, this trashed the backup folder, but I will just delete that. Here is what I did next. I plugged the drive back into the Lenovo and started the Backup utility provided with Windows XP. I allowed me to set up a destination folder on the Toshiba drive, and took off. It finished in 28 minutes. Almost 1 Gby/min.

There is one caveat with a Canvio drive. They are USB powered. Some low-power laptops limit the amount of power a drive can draw through a USB port. Then you have to buy a $8 cable that uses two USB ports so the drive can run.

The bottom line: Use the Windows utility. The NTI software is rated "Not Acceptable" by Polymath-at-Large.

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