Freecom Hard Drive Pro 400GB

The ever increasing amounts of data that we seem to be downloading on to our computers, whether it be from our uber quick internet pipes to content from our high definition camcorders and cameras, most of us need some form of backup or external storage to what we already have inside our desktop and laptop machines. Prices have dropped substantially over the last few months with the introduction of larger and faster drives hitting the 1 terabyte mark, paving the way for cheap fast, and large storage solutions.

If you’re not one for downloading hundreds of gigabytes of data it is still a smart move to have a backup plan in place and most of us know that we either don’t bother to back up and rely on the reliability of the drives they sit on or we don’t back up often enough, so this is why you should be paying attention to this feature so you can learn all you need to about getting yourself an external hard drive.

With the recent-ish launch of Vista touting its new backup features and the soon-to-launch update to Mac OS X for the Mac (around October), and the moon aligning in the right position with pidgeons flying in the right direction, I thought it was an ideal time to do a feature on a four part series of reviews on these hard drive platter behemoths.

In this first part of my external hard drive reviews, the Freecom Hard Drive Pro at 400GB offers massive USB 2.0 plug and play storage that also features an eSATA connection that is both new and rare in desktops/notebooks as well as the drives themselves.

Design

The aluminium outer shell has that cold-to-the-touch feel of quality that wraps around the entire enclosure. Similar to what you get on the MacBook Pro or Mac Pro and I wonder if that’s where the design inspiration came from. The front has just two buttons and some air vent holes. At the rear is the fan exhaust that draws air in from the front grille and throws it out the back to keep the whole thing cool, and the data connections, power port and Kensington lock are also found at the back.

Sitting on rubber feet is meant to minimise vibration transfer from the 7200RPM drive spinning inside and although it works to a certain extent, it’s never quite perfect because when you lift the drive up there’s a distinct difference in sound.

All that graces the front fascia is two buttons and the capacity of the drive that lights up blue along with the buttons. These buttons are for powering the drive on and off as well as activating the one touch synchronise button that automatically creates a backup using the included software (for Windows only).

Connectivity

As well as the expected USB 2.0 port being present on the Hard Drive Pro, the newcomer to external data connectivity is eSATA and looks like a normal SATA connection that internal hard drives use with some extra additions to the connector design to make it more durable. It is capable of transferring data at 3000 Mbit/s in comparison to the maximum of 480 Mbit/s on a USB 2.0 connection.

In terms of installation, external hard drives work just like a USB flash drive in a plug and play manner so just hook it up to your USB port and within a few seconds your operating system will recognise it and mount it for use.

Performance

To test the performance for this drive I did a couple of transfer tests to see how well it fared with some other drives that I will be reviewing at the same time. A 1.07GB file took 1 minute 14 seconds to transfer from my 7200RPM 80GB dekstop hard drive in my XP machine, using the USB 2.0 connection and 4 minutes to transfer 1020 files equating to 3GB worth of data.

Evaluation

Freecom have developed an affordable external hard drive solution for a little over £110 that will allow for a massive 400GB of storage for your backup needs with fast transfer rates in a small enclosure. Available in capacities of 250GB, 400GB and 500GB and included with these drives is a suite of backup software for Windows that automatically backs up all the files with a particular extension (e.g. mp3, .jpg, avi), individual folder and file transfer that are compressed and encrypted, password protection and automatic synchronisation scripts that start as soon as you connect up the drive.

It’s also a winner of the iF Product design Award 2007 for its minimalist design, the Hard Drive Pro is an ideal match for any Mac or PC set up on your desk with its quality solid build and minimalist design that hums along quietly whilst you work and play.

2007-05-14 Onwah Tsang

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