Top 5 external drives: Backing up is a personal matter | Crave – CNET

The last Saturday of March is World Backup Day, and you’ll see a lot of storage vendors taking this occasion to pitch their products for backup purposes. I am about to do a similar thing, but from a very different point of view: yours.

None of the vendors goes as far as guaranteeing the integrity of storage on their products. At most, a vendor would give you a new product to replace the broken one, or in the currently unique case of IoSafe, offer to pay up to a certain amount toward data recovery. I, on the other hand, promise, if not guarantee, that if you follow my advice, your data will be safe.

The truth is that backing up is a personal matter that needs to be taken care of on a regular basis — even daily, if possible. The key thing is to store copies of data in multiple places and never rely on just one medium for your important, irreplaceable data.

Note that commercial movies, music, and other purchasable digital content are replaceable. It’s great that you can back everything up, but most of the time, the personal information that you really need to safeguard takes up very little storage space.

Up-to-date backups of your data are like insurance; you need it and at the same time hope to never have to resort to it.

The second thing to note is that even a brand-new hard drive can die at any time, without any warning. You can always lose your portable drive, and your online storage service can go out of business all of sudden. You need to act when everything is in working order — which can give you a false sense of safety — because otherwise, most of the time, it’s just too late. And let me say this once more time: never use just one medium to keep your important, irreplaceable data.

Up-to-date backups of your data are like insurance; you need it and at the same time hope to never have to resort to it. There are many ways to keep your data safe and you can find out about different types of backups here.

To make it easier, in this roundup, however, I’ll focus on external hard drives, which are the most popular, affordable, and easiest way to back up (and restore) data. Even better: you only have to pay for them once. Here are my choices for the top five external hard drives that are great ways to keep your data safe. They are formatted for Windows but can be easily reformatted to work with Macs. They are listed in order of seriousness, with the most casual — and affordable — drives on top.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)

WD 2TB My Passport
Western Digital’s 2TB My Passport is the world’s first portable drive that offers 2TB of storage space. This is about as large as you can get from a 2.5-inch-based external hard drive given the current perpendicular recording technology. Despite this top capacity, the drive is very compact and is bus-powered. All you need is the included standard Micro-USB 3.0 cable for it to work. (The drive works with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.)

The new My Passport offered great performance in my testing and doesn’t cost too much, either, at just around $200 at online retail stores. It also comes in 1TB, 750GB, and 500GB versions that cost less accordingly. As an alternative to the new My Passport, you can also check out Seagate’s GoFlex Portable series.

For backup purposes, the drive is preloaded with WD Backup software that makes backing up data a very easy job. Read the full review of the WD 2TB My Passport.

Clickfree C6
No portable drive can beat the C6 in terms of ease of use. On a Windows machine, the drive’s backup software runs by itself and makes a daily backup if it’s kept plugged in. You can recover files using its software when Windows is running, and you can also use it as a boot drive to restore the entire system in case of a drive crash or virus infection.

Apart from the C6, there are other drives that offer similar features, such as the HP Portable Hard Drive, and the Clickfree C2N. Read the full review of the Clickfree C6.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)

Silicon Power Armor A80
The Silicon Power Armor A80 takes storage security up a notch with its rugged chassis, which is waterproof down to a depth of 3 feet and can handle shocks and drops from around 4 feet while moving. It survived some serious beating in my tests and also gave great performance.

The 2.5-inch-based portable drive offers up to 1TB of storage and its body has a groove for storing a short USB 3.0 cable. The Silicon Power Armor A80 comes in four capacities: 500GB, 640GB, 750GB, and 1TB, and will make a great backup drive for people who travel a lot or work in rough environments. Read the full review of the Silicon Power Armor A80.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)

IoSafe Rugged Portable hard drive

Speaking of rugged, this drive literally has that as its middle name. The IoSafe Rugged Portable has a full-metal casing (there are versions that are made of titanium) and can withstand basically anything you throw at it.

I personally shot the drive with a shotgun a few times during a demo and it survived that just fine. The drive can also handle serious water submersion and other abuse. The only thing it can’t withstand is extreme heat.

As I referred to above, IoSafe bundles the Rugged Portable with a year of Data Recovery Service that pays up to $5,000 (depending on which model you buy) to recover data if the drive is damaged for whatever reason. This service can be extended to three or five years. It also comes with a full version of the Genie9 Timeline Pro backup software. Read the full review of the IoSafe Rugged Portable hard drive.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)

IoSafe SoloPro Disaster-Proof Hard Drive
The IoSafe SoloPro is the ultimate backup drive that can satisfy even people who are worried about their data safety to the point of paranoia. The drive is huge and weighs about 15 pounds. This is because of the multiple layers of protective material that keep the internal hard drive safe from extreme heat (up to 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes). The drive is also able to survive submersion in up to 10 feet of water for three days. The reason it should only be used as a backup drive is that it’s a single-volume storage device, therefore, susceptible to hard-drive failure.

Like the Rugged Portable, the SoloPro comes with one year of a data recovery plan that covers up to $5,000 worth of damage. Recently, IoSafe introduced the Solo G3, which will soon be reviewed. Read the full review of the IoSafe SoloPro drive.

Want to find out how these five drives stack up against one another? Compare them head-to-head.

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