Amacom Technologies has been making external hard drive solutions for many years, originally with the FlipDisk drive, which was convenient for backing up notebook and desktop PCs. This latest drive has been designed for a similar purpose – hard drive backup – but with a few useful changes.
The Flip2disk drive itself has been around for a few months in basic form. It’s available in capacities ranging from 10GB up to 60GB and is contained in a rugged case that should survive most knocks and drops. Internally it’s based on a notebook-size 2.5-inch hard drive, but there’s so much rubberised packaging that the unit itself is considerably larger; on a par with the LaCie PocketDrive, which fulfills a similar function.
There are two LEDs on the plastic casing that light up to show that the device has power and that data is being transferred. There’s also a single connector at one end, but you won’t be able to plug it directly into your PC. Instead, you’ll need one of the various adapter packs that Amacom supplies, without which the Flip2disk drive is useless.
These adapter packs include IEEE 1394 FireWire, USB 2.0, PCMCIA, parallel and a special IDE tray that can be used to install the drive as an extra 5.25-inch unit in a desktop PC. With most of these adapters, the drive’s power is supplied by the connection cable itself, although in some cases (such as with the parallel port option) a Y-cable is supplied so that power can be taken from the keyboard port.
You can swap the various adapters over as you wish, so it’s possible to backup data from your desktop and notebook PCs using the same drive but with two different cables. This makes the Flip2disk a very flexible solution, but it does mean that you have to budget for at least one of the adapters when buying the drive. Allow for that and you won’t feel stung. The drive’s performance varies depending on the chosen connector, but it’s fast enough to run applications over USB 2.0 and FireWire without noticeable delays.
What makes the Flip2disk a particularly useful solution is the software that comes with it, called ‘FlipBack’. This can perform a full backup of the user’s hard drive, including the boot sector and system files. Once that initial backup has been carried out, subsequent backups will only synchronise those files that have changed. This is all based on user settings, so you can tweak it to handle only specific directories or files if necessary.
You can restore individual files from the Flip2disk via the software, but if you really get stuck and want to replace the contents of your hard drive entirely, Amacom recommends that ‘advanced users’ dismantle the Flip2disk and install its hard drive in their notebook. We’re not sure that this is such a good idea, but the 5.25-inch drive bay adapter can be used by desktop users to gain immediate access to their data, which is a more practical approach.
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