We didn't try the online backup service, but we did the ArcSoft TotalMedia Backup and it worked very well on both Windows XP and Vista (we didn't try the Mac version). You can back up preselected data (My documents, My photos, etc.) or select certain folders or the entire the hard drive to back up. You can also back up directly to multiple types of media including hard drive, external hard drive, and optical media. The software's interface is easy to use and very intuitive.
The (Re)Drive doesn't have a power switch, but it senses the power current from the USB cord and will power on by itself. This means that if you turn off your computer, or when the computer goes in sleep mode, the (Re)Drive will turn off by itself and turns itself back on when needed. This is a very nice feature that, according to SimpleTech, could help save up to 30 percent of energy compared with other 500GB hard drives. Note that the power from the USB cord is only enough for the drive to turn itself on and off, it requires a separate power adapter to operate. However, the power adapter itself is very small and bears the Energy Star certification that, by the claim of SimpleTech, saves up to 10 percent compared with other power cords.
Cost per gigabyte
At 30 cents per gigabyte, the $150 SimpleTech (Re)Drive delivers average value for an external drive. The Vox V1 is cheaper in this regard, but it's much bulkier and comes with a big power adapter. All things considered, we find the (Re)Drive well-balanced between features and cost per GB.
|Model||Capacity||Est. street price||Cost per GB|
|Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus||250GB||$90||$0.36|
The SimpleTech (Re)Drive offers very decent performance compared with other external hard drives in its class. In CNET Labs testing, in regular USB 2.0 mode, the drive registered 151.8Mbps and 153.4Mbps for write and read tests, respectively. In Turbo USB 2.0 mode, the drive failed to deliver the promised 25 percent bump, but the drive's write score did increase to 160.6Mbps, a 6 percent jump. Its read scores increased 7 percent, to 163.8Mbps.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The drive also performed very smoothly, quietly, and stayed cool during the testing process.
We did notice, however, that with a PC running Windows Vista Ultimate, when the computer goes out of sleep mode, the drive would occasionally need to be unplugged and plugged back in to be recognized by the system again. The issue was rather random--it didn't happen every single time, nor did it happen with all machines we tried it with--and it might be because of the OS' power management rather than the drive itself. We talked to SimpleTech about this and they couldn't replicate that on their side. It's important to note that this sleeping issue doesn't affect the integrity of data stored on the hard drive.
Service and support
SimpleTech backs the (Re)Drive with only a one-year warranty, which is disappointing when you consider the company backs its Signature Mini drives with a three-year policy. Its toll-free technical support is available from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT. At the company's Web site, you can find FAQs as well as drivers, software updates, and manuals.