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External Hard Drives with Trimmings Aplenty

Axiomtek Exboot EXB-0131

The ExBoot's enclosure is made of brushed aluminum; front and back panels are bedecked in plastic. The front panel is also lit by numerous LEDs, where a special backup button lights up to signal drive activity. Products with 1.8" and 2.5" drives are available from Axiomtek; we restricted our review to 3.5" models. We installed a 120 GB Hitachi IC35L120AVV207 drive from our spare collection. The EXB-0131 connects to a PC through USB; as a solution for "instant backup and recovery" - that quote comes verbatim from their Website - it's a good choice, because practically every computer includes USB ports nowadays.

The unique value of the ExBoot products comes from the ExBoot Professional software that's bundled with these drives. This software is designed to back up complete disk drives (both full and incremental backups are supported) and to stay synchronized with the system to which the ExBoot is attached.

If the worst case scenario occurs, and a drive crash occurs, users can choose from two restore scenarios. First, if the system can boot from a USB 2.0 hard disk that system can continue to operate, albeit more slowly than usual owing to a slower USB connection to its remaining hard disk. Second, you can replace the defective hard disk and boot from a CD supplied with the ExBoot (a custom version of Linux does the heavy lifting here) that uses the ExBoot software to restore the contents of the original drive to the new one. But be warned: in our test system, this latter activity took more than 24 hours to complete!

This backup software doesn't support versioning mechanisms - that is, the ExBoot serves either as a data protection tool for your system, or provides storage for your personal backups. But earlier versions of files, even if copied to a previous backup can't be selectively identified and restored (once a new version is backed up, older versions are lost). Backups can be scheduled in Windows or launched by pushing the special backup button on the ExBoot's front panel.