A few months ago, we tested the SimpleDrive from SimpleTech, this time we had the opportunity to lay our hands on the new SimpleTech series, the Signature Mini Drive. Our test unit is a Signature Mini Black Cherry 320GB. The packaging could be confused with a chocolate box. Just like the previous version, we are still in awe with the slick design of the enclosure. It is very portable, weighs less than half a pound, measures around 3 in. by 5 in. and does not require any bulky external power supply, just a two-headed UBS connection cable. Windows XP and Vista detected the device within seconds and it was ready to go. Mac users would want to reformat to MacOS Extended before they can write onto the disk. As we pointed out in our review of the SimpleDrive, if the unit needs to be compatible with both Windows and Mac, format the drive in FAT.
We tested the Signature mini drive the same way we did with the SimpleDrive. We measured the three basic disk operations, READ, WRITE and READ/WRITE. We used a AMD x2 4200+ with 2GB of RAM and a RAID0 drive, of two 10K raptor from and to which we read and wrote the files. For the data, we used the content of our own “World of Warcraft” folder and timed the READ, WRITE and R/W task twice and the results were averaged. The folder for the test contains 6,142 files, 1,1272 folders, and 8.29GB or 8,911,757,312 Bytes. (For the current WoW players, your folder should be much bigger than mine; I quit the game a while ago so I have missed few patches. And if you want to know it all, I played a level 70 Tauren Shaman, Enhancement specced, on Cenarion Circle, guild Clan BlackHoof.) To our surprise, the Signature Mini outperformed the SimpleTech unit we tested awhile back. For comparison, we’ve included the SimpleDrive benchmark results in parenthesis.
RAID0 to Unit (mn:sec:ms): 6:19:60 (vs 10:25:82) for an average of 23.5 MBps (vs 14.2 MBps)
Unit to RAID0 (mn:sec:ms): 5:36:00 (vs 9:34:38) for an average of 26.5 MBps (vs 15.5 MBps)
Unit to Unit (mn:sec:ms): 12:00:40 (vs 19:54:04) for an average of 12.3 MBps (vs 7.5 MBps)
These are significant improvements!
Local and Online Backup
The manufacturer, Fabrik, claimed to be the first to offer local and online backup. A local Backup software from ArcSoft, TotalMedia Backup and Record is included. The online backup, 2GB free, is available at FabrikUltimateBackup.com. Anyone can sign up for a free 2GB account. ArcSoft is a decent backup application, especially compared to the previous one, SyncStorage. Once a backup is created, to make the restore operation easier, an exe file (uQuickRestore.exe) and all the required DLLs are created in the same folder as the backup files. As a test, it took exactly 17 mins to backup our 8.25 GB folder, which is very acceptable considering it did compare every file it backed up with the original.
The online backup offers only 2 GB of storage but for a monthly fee of $4.95 you get unlimited online storage. The process requires the user to install a client on the computer. Then, select the data/folder to backup as you normally would for a local backup. The initial push, which is a full backup, can take awhile depending, of course, on how much data needs to be backed up. After that, it is all incremental – meaning only updated data will be backed up. As a quick estimate, it could take a full day, or 24 hours, to upload 730MB of data on a 512KB/s connection.
MSRP is about $199.99, but if you shop around you can find one around $110–ish. I realize that for that amount of money you probably could get a bigger external drive. However, the Black Cherry portability, great performance, a very nice look, and three year warranty is hard to pass up. One says not to judge the book by its cover, but this is an exception.