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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.