If data backup is the only feature that you require of an external storage device, the plainly named Toshiba 500GB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive just may fill the bill. This $149 device does not possess lightning-fast data transfer rates or the security features vital to the business set, but the drive may prove a decent solution for casual users who need to back up in a pinch.
Measuring 5.0 x 3.2 x 0.7 inches and weighing 6.0 ounces, the Toshiba drive slides easily into a pants or jacket pocket. We're fans of the simple blue-on-black striped color scheme, but the drive's plastic body feels cheap. In fact, when we applied pressure to the shell, it flexed; not a good sign for a drive that's designed to protect your most valuable data. Rubber bumpers on the bottom of the drive safeguard against shock.
Once we connected the Toshiba drive to a notebook via a USB cable, we used the LAPTOP Transfer Test to transfer a 4.97GB folder of mixed media. Writing the file took 5 minutes and 22 seconds, a rate of 15.8 MBps, which was a bit below the 17.6 MBps pocket-drive average. On our read test, the drive transferred the same folder in a brisk 3:14, or 26.2 MBps. That's the second fastest pace (via USB) of all the pocket drives we've tested.
Software and Warranty
Preinstalled on the drive is NTI's Shadow software (compatible with both Mac and PC), which we used to set up a new backup job that would work its magic whenever we made a change on our system (there's also an option to autobackup on specific days at scheduled times). The Shadow software's ability to save up to 9 previous versions of a file is a technological godsend for times when you need an earlier draft of a document.
However, unlike theFabrik SimpleTech Signature Mini, Toshiba's drive doesn't offer online backup storage as a bonus. This drive also doesn't include any encryption software for securing sensitive data. Toshiba insures the drive with a three-year limited warranty.
The $149 Toshiba 500GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive boasts a best-in-class read speed and easy backup software, but it suffers from below-average write speeds and a design that doesn't feel durable. If a feature-packed drive is more to your liking, the 500GBSeagate FreeAgent Gooffers cross-PC sync, 256-bit AES encryption, and a lengthy five-year warranty for the same price.