Pros: Slim, stylish and robust case; No power supply required
Cons: Backup software not on disk.
Bottomline: A well-designed disk with good backup software, but it's a little on the expensive side.
External hard disks are the most convenient way of backing up important files on a computer, with plenty of space and very fast access.
The Iomega Ego Portable is particularly suitable, with backup software included. There is some early disappointment: despite the 250GB of storage space on the disk, the 36MB installation file must be downloaded from Iomega's website, which is no joke if you are using dial-up.
The disk itself is compact and has a metal case rather than a plastic one, which always inspires more confidence about its robustness. It includes a pair of clever technologies, combining padding and a sensor to secure the sensitive drive head if the hard disk is dropped, which means your data should stay intact.
The one we saw uses a USB connection to the computer, but a Firewire version is also available, as are cheaper models with smaller capacities. The backup software, Retrospect, is very good. It can backup the entire computer, specific files and folders or types of files. It is also possible to set a limit on how much of the disk is used for backups, in case it needs to be used for transporting large files as well.
It will make one backup a day, catching up if the computer is off at the scheduled time. In our testing, it was fast and didn't affect performance. Restoring files is easy and there is a search function for individual file names. The biggest problem we had with the disk is that it is formatted with the old Windows system, not the newer NTFS one.
The older version cannot store files larger than 4GB, which may be a problem for those who are editing videos. Thankfully Restrospect was able to backup files bigger than this limit, once we'd made the change.
While the Ego is more expensive than many similar disks, the fact that it's robust and the software with which it's supplied mean that if you're security conscious, it's worth looking at.