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Conclusion

Portable Storage: Convenience is the Key
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Looking at the five product families from a hardware perspective, there is very little to discuss. All of them provide maximum read transfer rates of up to 32 MB/s and write rates of up to 27 MB/s. Maxtor’s 80 GB OneTouch 4 Mini, the Buffalo MiniStation 120 GB and the Fujitsu HandyDrive 300 GB top model are based on slower hard drives, which becomes obvious in the minimum transfer rates Compare Prices on Portable Hard Drives. That’s especially the case with Fujitsu’s 300 GB top model, which is a 12.5 mm 4,200 RPM drive, and so not quite a top performer. Although the difference is little due to USB 2.0 being the real bottleneck, SimpleTech and Western Digital provide the best overall performance with their SimpleDrive Portable and Passport.

As I said in the introduction, portable storage should be convenient : I don’t want to look after individual files and folders or drag & drop them to the portable hard drive. And I certainly don’t want to check file versions to see whether or not I can overwrite existing files. WD offers a coherent synchronization solution, which allows you to keep an updated copy of your relevant files on the Passport. However, should you accidentally delete the software, which comes only on the Passport drive, the process of retrieving it from WD is cumbersome. And WD still is limited to 250 GB, although we expect the limit to move to 320 GB soon. To make up for this, WD offers the lightest portable drive.

Buffalo’s MiniStation doesn’t win design contests, but it is laid out shockproof. Paired with Memeo AutoBackup, the product made a solid impression at up to 320 GB capacities, and provided a good experience thanks to its ease of use. SimpleTech provides a powerful backup and synchronization solution as well, and it is also available at up to 320 GB. The HandyDrives by Fujitsu offer up to 300 GB capacity, but they don’t come with any software to make backup and synchronization any more convenient. Less technical consumers should look for other products ; enthusiasts who have their own backup strategies will be happy to hear that the Fujitsu is the only one besides WD to bundle a protective bag. Maxtor’s OneTouch 4 Mini comes with powerful software, but it is limited to a maximum capacity of 160 GB.

Comparison Table

Manufacturer Buffalo Buffalo Fujitsu Fujitsu
Product Name Ministation Ministation HandyDrive-III HandyDrive-III
Model Number HD-PS120U2 HD-PS320U2 MMD2120UB MMD2250UB
Capacity 120 GB 320 GB 120 GB 250 GB
Weight 170 g 172 g 200 g 208 g
Price $90 $220
Warranty 1 year 1 year 1 year 1 year
Manufacturer Fujitsu Maxtor SimpleTech Western Digital
Product Name HandyDrive-III OneTouch 4 Mini SimpleDrive Portable WD Passport Portable
Model Number MMD2300UB STM900
803OTA
3E1-RK
SP-U25/250 WDXMS2500
Capacity 300 GB 80 GB 250 GB 250 GB
Weight 240 g 166 g 166 g 156 g
Price $75 $135 $135
Warranty 1 year 5 years 1 year 3 years

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    Anonymous , August 19, 2008 2:08 PM
    After 6 hours of "copying" the contents of my C drive using the Safety feature - which indicated that it had copied 260+MB successfully, nothing was written to the drive. This is worse than useless because if I had not checked to see how much space was still available I would not have realized I had no backup to recover from. Seagate Technical support confirmed my observations. Drive was fine, software was useless.
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