Toshiba Canvio Slim II review: Not so slim, but excellent nonetheless

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.1
  • Setup and ease of use: 9.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Toshiba Canvio Slim II offers fast USB 3.0 speed, good bundled software and comes in a well-thought-out, sturdy design.

The Bad The Toshiba Canvio Slim II could be a bit slimmer, and its USB 2.0 performance is just average.

The Bottom Line For anyone owning a USB 3.0-ready laptop, the speedy and compact Toshiba Canvio Slim II makes an excellent companion for both storage expansion and data backup purposes.

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I wouldn't call the Toshiba Canvio Slim II skinny, but that's my only major complaint about the new USB 3.0 portable external hard drive.

The drive inherits all the goodies that come with its older brother, the compact Toshiba Canvio Connect, including great backup software, Mac NTFS driver -- plus it's now the fastest platter-based USB 3.0 portable drive I've tested. Design-wise, the storage device also looks good and feels sturdy, thanks to its aluminum casing.

In all, at the current price of around $100 for 1TB or $75 for 500GB, the Toshiba Canvio Slim II is an easy recommendation for anybody who needs a quick storage solution, either to expand their laptop capacity or to backup important data. For more choices on great portable drives, including those that are slimmer than the Slim II, check out this list.

Quite compact but the Canvio Slim II is somewhat thicker than other slim portable drives, such as the Seagate GoFlex Slim, shown here.
Quite compact but the Canvio Slim II is somewhat thicker than other slim portable drives, such as the Seagate GoFlex Slim, shown here. Dong Ngo/CNET

Compact, sturdy and well-thought-out design
Measuring 4.2 x 3 x 0.5 inches, the Slim II is is very compact. It's not the slimmest drive on the market, however. The Seagate GoFlex Slim that came out two years ago is a bit thinner at .32-inch.

And like the GoFlex Slim, the Canvio Slim II's casing is made of aluminum instead of plastic, making it look expensive and feel sturdy. Still, the drive is light, just 5.4 ounces. On one side, it has a Micro-USB 3.0 port, which works with any standard Micro USB 3.0 cable (there's one included). The drive is bus-powered, meaning it draws its electricity through the USB port to which it's connected.

In my trials, the drive worked with all USB 3.0 ports and USB 2.0 ports without problems. It has one interesting feature, which is its status light in one corner. This light turns on when the drive is plugged in, turns off when it's not in use, and and flashes to indicate data activity. The color of the light changes to white if you use it with a USB 2.0 port and to blue when it's plugged into a USB 3.0 port. This is very helpful for folks who don't know which type of USB port they're using.

Drive type 2.5-inch external USB hard drive
Connector options USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Size (LWH) 4.2 inches x 3 inches x 0.5-inch
Weight 5.4 ounces
Available capacities 500GB, 1TB
Capacity of test unit 1TB
OSes supported Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7), Mac OS 10.4.6 or higher
Software included NTFS driver (Mac) , Password Tools (Windows and Mac), NTI Backup Now Ez (Windows), Pogoplug@PC (Windows)

Helpful bundled software
Similar to the Canvio Connect, the Canvio Slim II comes preformatted in NTFS, so if you're using it with a Windows computer, all you have to do is plug it in. On a Mac, you'll need to install Tuxera NTFS for Mac, included on the drive itself, before you can write to the drive. After that, you can also use the drive to back up your Mac using Time Machine.

The Toshiba Canvio Slim II comes bundled with a long list of useful software utilities.
The Toshiba Canvio Slim II comes bundled with a long list of useful software utilities. Dong Ngo/CNET

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Hard Drive Type external hard drive
  • Capacity 500 GB
  • Average Seek Time 12 ms
  • Spindle Speed 5400 rpm
  • Buffer Size 8 MB
About The Author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.