Recently, we looked at the Seagate 160GB Portable External Hard Drive – a laptop hard drive powered over USB. While it impressed enough to earn a 9/10 rating, what it lacked was software to enable it to be used as a comprehensive backup solution. This is where something like the ABS Plus from CMSproducts comes in.
Billed as an automatic backup system, the ABSplus (do you see what they did there…?) is essentially a USB hard drive bundled with CMSproducts BounceBack backup software and copy2go multimedia organisation software. The hardware and software aren't dependent on each other so if you outgrow the supplied hard drive you can just buy a new one and continue to use the software. The drive I'm looking at today is a mere 40GB but they're available all the way up to 160GB.
The unit comes well packaged in a good sized – almost oversized – box. Included are two CDs one of which contains the backup software and the other is a rescue disc, which enables you to recover your local hard disc from your backup.
Also included are two cables; one is a standard USB cable, the other is a USB to 3.5mm barrel connector cable that can be used to provide extra power to the drive should the one USB port not provide enough.
The drive itself is a very bland looking affair with a matte silver body and a white plastic back plate that just emanates cheapness. Don't get me wrong, no ugly sticks were used in its making but it certainly won't be winning any beauty contests either. It’s bland but functional. A single blue LED indicates both power and hard drive activity, flashing off and on in accordance with the latter.
Physical installation couldn't be easier – just plug in and wait for your operating system to recognise the drive. You can, of course, format/partition the disc any way you want, for general use, but to use the included software you will need to have it formatted in a Windows recognised format.
I tested the drive for raw speed by copying a single 3.66GB file and a folder of 250 photos of mixed sizes, totalling 716MB, to and from the disc.
The 3.66GB file returned figures of 21MB/s write and 22MB/s read speed while the photos showed figures of 15.8MB/s write and 20.2MB/s read speed. These speeds are slightly slower than the Seagate drive but speed isn't really the key issue with this device, what really matters is the software.