Gifts That Can Save Your Data's Life: Good Portable Storage Options

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-11-24

Gifts That Can Save Your Data's Life: Good Portable Storage Options

All signs seem to point to a rather practical holiday gift-giving season this year, thanks to the uncertainty in the macroeconomy. Save those frivolous gifts for white elephant parties!

Gifts that promise to have usefulness for a long time will be favored, economists say, as people try to get the most for their money.

And what could be more practical for anybody with a personal computer than the gift of personal data storage? Capacities keep going up, as do the number of value-added and optional features. And prices keep coming down, much to the joy of buyers and to the chagrin of storage executives.

"The prices are all market-driven. It's ridiculous how cheap these things are, but it is what it is," Iomega President Jonathan Huberman told eWEEK a few weeks ago.

Take full advantage while prices are down; since most things in business are cyclical, the prices will undoubtedly start heading back up at some point.

Here are some prime examples of relatively inexpensive storage hardware/software packages for consumers and/or small businesses.

Gift Ideas for Personal Data Storage

1. Seagate's FreeAgent desktop storage drive is a solid product. It features USB 2.0 and capacity increments of 500GB ($99.99), 750GB ($139.99) and 1TB ($179.99). It stands upright, and its footprint is about the size of a BlackBerry. It comes with excellent backup software and is completely plug-and-play. Highly recommended.

2. Iomega's StorCenter ix2 with Ethernet connectivity comes in 1TB ($299.99) and 2TB ($479) versions and provides a centralized network storage repository for homes or small offices. Highly recommended.

Also in the Iomega domain are its Maxtor BlackArmor portable storage drives. Featuring USB 2.0 connectivity, they are handy, coming in 160GB ($79.99) and 320GB ($119.99) capacities. About the size of an iPhone, they can easily slip into the inside pocket of a suit coat. Highly recommended.

3. Rebit, one of the newer storage kids on the block, is also one of the most intriguing. Not only does Rebit back up data like all the other products listed here, but it also backs up an entire hard drive and restores it to its original state-including restoration of the operating system and software applications, shortcuts and file associations-when rebooted on the new drive. None of the other products here can make that claim.

You can recover any file or folder just by using Windows Explorer drag-and-drop. If a disk crashes, Rebit recovers everything onto a replacement disk. There is no need to redownload, reinstall or even reregister applications. Rebit also features something called NeverFull, which automatically deletes old versions of files as new ones come in, should the disk fill up. 

The drives are the size of an iPhone and come in 80GB ($109.95), 120GB ($109.95), 160GB ($169.95), 320GB ($189.95) and 500GB ($219.95) capacities. Highly recommended.

4. Hammer Storage's MyShare offers the ability to share music, photos, printers, USB drives and files from PCs and Macs over a home network or over the Internet. Capacities range from 320GB to 2TB (a 1.5TB unit goes for $339.99 at

Hammer just announced a partnership with Rebit Nov. 24 to include its software on the hardware. Hammer is now offering the Rebit appliance and software to its alliance of channel partners in Europe. 

5. Toshiba has a new 320GB, external, USB portable hard drive in the $105 to $120 price range, depending upon the retail outlet. The 2.5-inch drive is tiny, barely covering a large coffee mug.

6. Buffalo DriveStation TurboUSB external hard drives (7,200 rpm) are plug-and-play and based on SATA (Serial ATA) technology for larger capacities. DriveStation's transfer rates are up to 37 percent greater than those of standard USB hard drives, the company claims. It features auto installation, and downloadable Memeo AutoBackup software and support. Pricing is $169.95 for 1TB of capacity.

7. Tandberg RDX cartridge-type storage drives range from 80GB to 500GB in native storage capacity and feature a shock-proof cartridge design. A soft eject feature ensures no aborted backups or corrupted data due to an unwanted eject. Available in both SATA (internal) and USB (internal and external) configurations, the drives are a bit pricier. A 320GB external USB kit is priced retail at about $555; a 320GB internal SATA kit, retail $510; a 320GB cartridge, retail $386; and 500GB cartridge, retail $480.

8. SimpleTech's Signature Mini Black Cherry 320GB external drives are priced in the $115 range and feature USB 2.0 connectivity.

9. Quantum GoVault digital tape drives feature two cartridges (one for on site, one for off site) with capacities of 40GB, 80GB, 120GB, 160GB and 320GB. Deduplication software is included, which is a real plus-especially for small businesses. Check Quantum's Web site for pricing information.

Online Backup/Storage Gift Ideas

Online Backup/Storage

10. Carbonite, which is priced at $49.95 per year for unlimited storage for any desktop, laptop or handheld (software download included), can configure to back up in off-hours. Carbonite installs a small application on the computer that works unobtrusively in the background, looking for new and changed files that need to be backed up. There is no new interface to learn. Highly recommended.

11. MozyHome also works unobtrusively in the background, backing up files as they are saved. Pricing is $4.95 per month, with unlimited storage for any desktop, laptop (PC or Mac, by the way); the first 2GB of storage are free. Software download is included, and it can configure to back up data during off-hours. Parent company EMC is now integrating into it highly regarded RSA encryption security, which is a welcome feature. Highly recommended.

12. works similarly to MozyHome and Carbonite. It comes with various pricing plans: 1GB free accounts are available; it costs $7.95 per month for 5GB in the individual starter plan; and prices range up to $19.95 per month for 15GB in Professional plan. focuses heavily on file sharing; you can share and send any type of file-including documents, photos and videos that are too large for e-mail. Recommended.

If you are looking for remote access to your files from multiple computers, cell phones, or online applications such as Linkedin, Ning, Netvibes and Facebook, consider using You also can edit photos and images online with Picnik, work on your Word and Excel files using Zoho, and preview documents with Scribd's iPaper. There's no software to download.

13. Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) provides a simple Web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the Web. It was originally intended for software developers, but anybody can use it. It offers developer access to the same highly scalable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of Web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

Pricing is on a sliding scale, with charges for storage capacity (starting at 15 cents per GB per month for the first 50TB of storage) and file transfer (starting at 10 cents per GB). See Amazon's Web page for more information.


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