One of the unspoken truths of computing is that even power users often forget to do backups on the road. Yet it only takes one crash to lose your Word documents, photos, music collection, movies, and other locally stored files. The SanDisk Ultra Backup makes this process so easy that you might decide it's time to stop taking your chances.
At 0.48 ounces, the 8GB SanDisk Ultra Backup is the lightest of the USB drives we recently tested. It's also the least stylish; its all-black design looks a bit dated. At 2.9 inches long, the Ultra Backup stuck out a full finger's width longer than the Lexar MX drive, making it a little more obtrusive when connected to a laptop. Still, it's about the same length as the Patriot Memory Supersonic.
Even if the Ultra Backup looks a bit staid, it has a unique backup button on top that worked remarkably well. Also, an activity light on the drive helps you see what is happening; during backup or file transfer, the light flashes quickly. In a ready state, the light stays steady.
The Ultra Backup comes with same Dmailer app that comes with the Lexar MX drive, but it worked well and setup only took five minutes. While you can set the app to automatically back up files, you can also just press the backup button on the drive; it's so easy that you may find yourself clicking the backup button even as you work, saving the latest version of a Word doc or a recent iTunes download.
Unfortunately, the SanDisk Ultra Backup was the slowest drive of the bunch when it came to copying large amounts of files. When we transferred 5GB of media files and Word documents to the drive, it took a long 8 minutes 41 seconds, which equals a write speed of just 9.8 MBps. That's two and a half minutes longer than the next slowest drive, the Lexar Echo MX (6:08, 13.9 MBps). If you're looking for fast transfers, the USB 3.0-powered Patriot Memory Supersonic blows all of these drives away with a write speed of 41.3 MBps.
Likewise, copying those same files from the SanDisk to a notebook took 4:45 (a read speed of 18 MBps), about 40 seconds longer than the next slowest drive, the Imation Defender F200 (4:07, 20.7 MBps). The Patriot Memory drive took just 55 seconds, a rate of 93.1 MBps.
Not only does the 8GB SanDisk Drive offer a relatively small amount of storage space, but it also doesn't offer the best value. The 8GB version we tested normally retails for $45, but was on sale for $30. That's $3.75 per GB, which isn't bad, but the Patriot Memory drive costs $210 for 64GB, which comes to $3.30 per GB. SanDisk also offers the drive in a 64GB capacity for $202, which gives you the best value. There are also 16GB ($75) and 32GB ($113) versions available.
While its transfer speeds aren't great, we love the simplicity of copying files to the SanDisk Ultra Backup. Sometimes, that's all that matters.