SanDisk Cruzer Titanium Plus (4GB)
The 4GB SanDisk Cruzer Titanium ($50) is a new kind of flash drive that offers an automated online backup each time it's attached to a computer with an Internet connection. This model looks almost exactly the same as the original SanDisk Cruzer Titanium, but this one lets you perform automatic online backups using the BeInSync software. Unfortunately, the drive is expensive and requires a yearly fee to continue the backup service. The competition offers the same capacity in a single fee for half the cost.
The Cruzer Titanium features the same design as the original, with a small notch that pushes the USB in and out of the crush-resistant titanium coated metal casing, only this time the entire key is bronze, not silver. The package also includes a small silver key ring and lanyard for safe travel. It's not the tiniest USB drive we've seen, measuring 2.3 inches long by 0.8 inch wide by 0.3 inch deep, but it's definitely small enough to easily sit in the narrow USB port behind your PC. The Cruzer is compatible with all up-to-date Windows operating systems and will work with Mac OS as a storage device. The backup software only runs on Windows.
|Drive type||External USB Flash Hard Drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0|
|Product dimensions||2.3x0.8x0.3 inches (HWD)|
|Capacity of test unit||4GB|
|Supported operating systems||Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Macintosh OS 10+ (Storage only), Linux (Storage only)|
|Software included||Cruzer Online Backup Service|
The Cruzer ships with SanDisk's BeInSync software and is unique to this model. The price tag includes a free six-month subscription to BeInSync with the opportunity to extend another year for $29.95. After a quick registration that requires you to choose a username and password, the software is verified and ready to store data. From here, each time you connect the Cruzer to a computer with Internet access, the BeInSync software will scan the drive and update your online account to reflect any changes since the last backup. All files transferred to the Cruzer are protected using 256-bit SSL encryption with mandatory user authentication, and the data is available at any time at the BeInSync Web site, even if the drive isn't plugged into the computer. We tested the service with a number of different file types and all of our data popped up on the server, ready to be downloaded in the ZIP format. Unlike other hard drives, unplugging the drive in midbackup won't wipe out all the data; the backup will simply continue the next time the key is inserted into a computer.
SanDisk also includes two innovative features with the Cruzer. The first is that deleted files on the drive will remain available for download from the Web site until the entire drive is filled to capacity, in which case the deleted files are removed on a first in, first out basis. The second is a precautionary measure: if you lose the drive and report it to SanDisk, the company will disable further backups and effectively freeze all data associated with the username. If you happen to find the device afterward, SanDisk will reactive the service for no cost to the user.
Cost per gigabyte
The 4GB Cruzer drive sells for $50 on the SanDisk Web site, while other USB drives such as the Kingston DataTraveler 100 only cost $40 for double the space. Granted, the Cruzer can access your backups anywhere with an Internet connection, but the convenience comes at a premium. Even worse, once your complimentary six-month subscription is over, the service costs $30 per year. Instead of paying SanDisk's compounded fees, we recommend alternative USB drives like the SanDisk Cruzer Micro. Take the extra cash you'll save and spend it on Web space and a FTP client for online backups.
The Cruzer Titanium Plus impressed us by actually surpassing the read and write speeds advertised by SanDisk. We copied 886.15 megabytes of random documents, MP3s, and photos; the Cruzer transferred the files at an impressive 14 megabytes per second, fast enough to keep up with standalone external hard drives such as the Maxtor Black Armor and the OWC Mercury On-The-Go.
Service and support
SanDisk protects the Cruzer Titanium Plus with a five-year hardware warranty. SanDisk will repair or replace the drive, or even refund the purchase price depending on availability at the time of warranty. Unfortunately, the warranty doesn't cover the SanDisk backup software, so we suggest backing up your data to another hardware source, as SanDisk can't be held responsible for lost data in any product once it's sent in. In addition, the Cruzer Titanium Plus comes with a two-year lost-and-found return program courtesy of BoomerangIt, a service that lets you keep track of your valuables through an online database. The Cruzer comes with a BoomerangIt label with a unique ID number in case you lose the drive. After two years, you can renew the subscription with a variety of package options on the BoomerangIt Web site.