Burney's Legal Tech Reviews - A Portable PC Backup Solution - Time Well Spent

Brett Burney is the Legal Technology Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio. He regularly reviews products for Law.com's Automated Lawyer and Law Office Computing Magazine. Feel free to e-mail Brett with your legal technology questions.

 

If you're tired of hearing me preach about backing up your computer files, raise your hand.

If even one person kept their hand down, then my continued rant is justified.
It's not a question of "if" your computer's hard drive will fail, it's a question of "when." And since all of us store most of our lives and practices on our computer, making frequent backups of our files is a dire necessity.

No Excuses, No Regrets

Fortunately, there are backup systems available for every type of computer user - whether you consider yourself a techie-geek, or "technologically-challenged."
A couple of months ago, I reviewed the Mirra Personal Server here on LLRX. While I would consider that unit to accommodate a small office and several users, the ABSplus from CMS Products is perfect for an individual - whether they're on their own or in a big firm.

Connect Ye The Backup!

The ABSplus system bundles an external hard drive together with some professional grade backup software. ABS stands for "Automatic Backup System."

The external drive itself is small and light enough to be carried around in a briefcase. It measures 5.0" x 1.1" x 3.0" and weighs only 7 oz. I would definitely call this a "portable backup solution."


The hard drives are available in 20, 40, 60, 80, and now 100 GB. The Windows version of ABSplus comes with a USB 2.0 cord, but Apple users can order a model with FireWire.

I had no problem plugging in the ABSplus drive to my Windows computer via the USB 2.0 cord. It was recognized immediately as an external drive. While I don't regularly use a Mac, I know that fellow-techie Jeff Allen had no problem using the ABSplus with his Apple computer.

Bouncy Software

The bundled software, called "BounceBack," can actually be used with any hard drive. You can use it to back up files to a second internal hard drive or another external drive, although the software is nicely paired with the ABSplus drive.

Installation went fine and the software immediately searched for available backup storage mediums. Since I had already plugged in the ABSplus drive, the software picked it right up."


The BounceBack software automatically detected the format of my internal hard drive and formatted the ABSplus drive to match it.

I then allowed the software to perform the first backup. This took quite a while since it was the first time the software had scanned my system. After that initial time commitment, all backups are done in the background just on the files that have changed.

I appreciated the detailed progress window that appeared as my backup went through its paces so I could see how much longer it would last

The best thing about the BounceBack software is that it does not compress files. Many backup solutions squeeze files into a proprietary scheme to save space. The downside is that you must have that exact same software to un-compress the files when you need them.

The BounceBack software keeps all of your files in native format, so that you could simply plug the ABSplus drive into any computer and copy files over.
Along those lines, the BounceBack software includes a very handy "Quick Restore" utility. This handy little application gives you a clean interface that allows you to select individual files or entire folders to restore as needed.

The "Not-So-Goods" …

While I am generally happy with the ABSplus package, and I am thrilled at how easy it is to use, I have a couple of items on my wishlist.

First, I wish the company would have supplied a power cable. Don't get me wrong, you probably won't ever need it since the drive is powered via the USB or FireWire cable, but there could be a rare instance that you might need a power adaptor and would have to search one out.

Second, I wish the user documentation was a little better. The Quick Start Guide that is included is ok, but could be better in detailing the step-by-step instructions.

The full User Guide is only available electronically on the CD. While I'm usually in favor of less paper, how am I going to access that User Guide when my computer goes caput and I'm in panic mode? In other words, at the time that I most need the ABSplus drive (i.e., when my computer goes down), I'm not going to have immediate access to the guide that could help guide me through the recovery process.

Easy As Cake, Pie, or Any Other Desert

Other than those minor complaints, I am very impressed with the ABSplus because it is really so easy to use. As I alluded to above, I see this product used by an individual. Even if you have an army of IT professionals that live to make sure your network backups happen like clockwork, there are usually always some files that are stored locally on your computer. The ABSplus is a wonderful solution to grab those files and round out a complete backup solution.