Even if you're not planning on using your notebook to store, say, sensitive legal and medical records, it's frightening to imagine all of your files falling into the wrong hands. CMS' ABS-Secure Encrypted Backup Solution, a password-protected portable drive, is designed to protect you from just that. Armed with preinstalled encryption software and a simple interface, the drive makes safely backing up your documents easy. We tested the drive on an XP notebook, but it's also compatible with Windows 2000 and Vista.
CMS' no-nonsense backup system sports a simple but unattractive design: It's silver and has the company's logo prominently stamped on the front. The drive is about an inch thick and weighs just seven ounces. It has a 2.5-inch USB cable attached, which conveniently snaps into a molded, shock-resistant tray on the bottom. Normally, we would find fault with the short cable, but it should be fine for road warriors. The drive is available in 80GB, 160GB, and 250GB models, and range in price from $207 to $329.
Like a run-of-the-mill flash drive, the ABS-Secure doesn't require software installation. Since the software comes preinstalled, all you have to do is plug the drive in, mount it, and open it using a default, easy-to-remember password. It takes up only 47MB, so you can still enjoy plenty of storage space.
Once logged in, you can view the drive in a Windows Explorer box and drag and drop whatever files you want to store. Unlike a simple flash key, however, the ABS-Secure requires that you formally "dismount" (eject) the drive before unplugging it. This step is easy to forget if you're in a hurry, and if you do your data won't be saved. The good news is that once you dismount, everything on the drive automatically becomes password-protected.
This drive isn't lightning fast, but it's still plenty efficient; backing up our documents folder, which includes 241MB of photos, word docs, and Excel spreadsheets, took 4 minutes and 1 second, or 1 MBps. That's considerably slower than Iomega's eGo drive, which managed 19.3 MBps.
The CMS ABS-Secure isn't the cheapest hard drive you can find for its sizes, but it offers an excellent combination of security, mobility, and ease of use. If you're looking for peace of mind, it's worth every penny.
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