HP SimpleSave: Hard Drive Backup the Easy Way


How things as mundane as backup drives became objects of desire says as much about sleek design as the value we place in digital storage. Under the glossy black finish of HP’s SimpleSave hard drives – two portable and three desktop models – sits the stuff we care about: our documents, photos, videos, music, and more. They may be copies of files, but we’ve learned – sometimes the hard way – that there’s safety in redundancy.


I reached for one of the portables with an embedded 2.5-inch hard drive, the 500GB/Go (right). It's also availabe in a 320GB capacity. Despite the blue LED that pulsates when you plug the drive into your computer using the supplied 18-inch mini-USB to USB 2.0 cable, the device looks like a slab of dark chocolate measuring 3.2 x 4.9 x 0.63-inches. It fit into my shirt pocket (and didn't melt.) The standard Windows dialog box popped up asking me what I wanted to do. With the backup software stored on the SimpleSave drive, I chose to run the SimpleSave application.

After I agreed to the legalese, I was startled to see the message that backup would start in 23 seconds. Quicker than Jack Bauer, I stopped the countdown by clicking Options. That let me see the default file types that would be actually backed up. I now could second guess HP and select specific file types, folders, and locations. Removable drives like USB flash drives plugged into the PC can also be backed up, though the default is to skip those.

The SimpleSave software by default backs up your photo, video, and music files. You can add e-mail files, office documents, finance files, Media Center TV shows, Web page files, and other files. I went with the default setting, which covered my media files. There would be more than sufficient space on the portable drive to back them up. So, I clicked okay and a progress bar appeared along with a warning not to unplug the HP SimpleSave Drive! About five minutes later I was greeted by a big green check mark and  the message: YOUR COMPTUER IS NOW BACKED UP!


So many exclamation points! The Windows wonk I am, I immediately used Explorer to view the files on my chocolate bar. None were recognizable. It turns out that SimpleSave compresses your files and you need to run the HP program again to copy them back to a computer. This may not be everyone's cup of tea.

On the other hand, the big advantage of compression is that it results in files which are faster to transfer and smaller to store. Backup is quicker and more data fits on the target drive. So, if you have a lot of files or disproportionately large files, you'll save  time and space with a compression-based system like SimpleSave versus copying files unaltered as you might by dragging them to an external drive. Of course, you don't have to use the SimpleSave software. A USB hard drive is a USB hard drive.
The same basic software comes on the SimpleSave Desktop external drives (right). At 2.2 pounds and the size of a thick hardcover, the USB drive uses an AC adapter for power. If you're looking for extra capacity, each of the desktop models at 1-, 1.5-, and 2-Terabytes, beats the bus-powered portables.
Once you complete the initial backup, you can have the SimpleSave program copy just the files that have changed, even automatically backing up changes whenever the computer is idle for 5 minutes.You can also use SimpleSave to back up multiple computers. The supported operating systems are Windows 7, Vista, and XP. So, at the end of the day you'll sleep better knowing that you left your PC displaying that big green check mark.

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Just got my 500G installed two weeks ago. Why did I use the word "installed?? All I did was plug it in. No more worries about system crashes.

1.  Compression of my photo files is the last thing I want to happen.  Other than drag and drop, does the software provide for regular backup without the compression?

2.  It says the software can backup multiple computers. Does the software provide for redundant backup from one computer to multiple external drives or must one just program each external drive to do auto back up at different times during the day and night?

3.  What are the data transfer rates?

Can you tell me why is it when I backup my emails, I think they must back up the same files over and over again.  I can click to backup all my emails, and once I get the green tick, I sometimes repeat the same step as wanting to backup my emails again (although there are definately no new emails) and it shows I have to download over 11,000 files again.  Why is this so?

I can keep repeating this and everytime it still shows up lots of emails to download, even though there are no new emails to download.

Please send an e-mail to askbh@bhphotovideo.com with the e-mail client that you are using, as well as the backup software you are using. If possible, also include what protocol your e-mail server uses. (POP3, IMAP, or Exchange)

I want to view the pictures that I have stored on my HP Simplesave, but have a new computer since I purchased the Simple Save. How do I get them to come up?

The drives included a USB cable when they shipped. You can use it to connect to any computer with a standard USB 2.0 or 3.0 port. If you misplaced this cable, a replacement can be located here: http://bhpho.to/1mpRM2x