My mother has attracted quite a following on Picasa since acquiring her D90 in 2008. She takes pictures everywhere: the grocery store, the airport, the hospital, the back alleys, the freeways, the kitchen, the dog park… She’s also started to fill up the hard drive on her much-abused Sony Vaio laptop now that she shoots in RAW (which Nikon calls NEF) format.
Despite a growing facility with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, my mother doesn’t really know that much about computers. But boy, can she create data. (And I taught her how to rip CDs when she was here over Christmas, so it’s only going to get worse.) That puts her into the same category as many of today’s digital camera enthusiasts, who are happily accumulating terabytes of photos and videos of their children and grandchildren but fall into the “I’m supposed to back up my computer?” category on my poll.
On top of that, Mom has two active kittens and a Border Collie. (Describing a Border Collie as “active” would be an understatement.) The cats are known to do things like jump into her lap just as she’s lifting the coffee cup over the keyboard, with predictable results. The dog slobbers on the screen, though I don’t think he’s actually tried to chew it. So not only is there a lot of data, but it’s constantly under threat.
In other words, this woman seriously needs a backup. Something comprehensive, but simple. Something that works automatically. And something big enough for all those raw image files.
So I wrote to Marilyn Kroner and said “My mom needs a Rebit.” (I last wrote about Rebit’s “ridiculously simple” backup devices in May 2009.) And, as luck would have it, Rebit was just about to introduce its new SaveMe drive.
Since Rebit already gave me one free device and this wasn’t even for me, I handed over my credit card info and bought one, but opted to check it out before sending it on to Mom, to see what’s changed since last May.
First, the name. I love it. Why didn’t someone think of it before? “Save me.” That’s exactly what you want your backups to do.
Second, the actual drive is a bit smaller and slimmer than the model I have, but just as heavy. It’s very solid metal. You shouldn’t drop it anyway, but be especially sure not to drop it on your foot.
The CD in the package is not for installation, but for rescue in case of complete system failure. All you need to install the drive is the fold-out booklet with the license key. Plug the drive into a wall outlet, connect it to a USB port, turn it on, and wait for Windows to ask you what to do next. (If for some reason you don’t get an AutoPlay prompt, find the Rebit drive in Windows Explorer and click on “Start.exe”.)
The first thing you’ll see is the license agreement. Once you get that out of the way, the next step is to enter your license key:
This takes you to the welcome screen.
Even as you’re reading that, the software on the drive takes over and starts backing you up. The first time takes a while. The larger your hard drive, the longer it will take. I had to tell it not to back up my second internal drive (right click on the little frog icon in the system tray and click “More” to find this option) in order to save time, since I’m only backing up my own machine for purposes of this review. If you have a large hard drive, you may need to let it run overnight.
You don’t have to tell SaveMe what to copy, because it copies everything.
If you hover your pointer over the frog icon, Rebit updates you on its progress. “Rebit SaveMe is copying data. Backing up drive C:\. 519 files remaining.” Clicking on the box brings up the Help file.
The backup and restore process work the same way as with earlier Rebit models: as long as the drive is connected, it will back up files whenever they’re changed. To restore individual files, just click the frog on your desktop, navigate to the file’s location, and drag it back to your computer. (You can also find the backed-up versions of a file that you didn’t delete by right-clicking on the file in Windows Explorer and selecting “Rebit SaveMe” from the list of options.)
As for full hard disk recovery (for which they’ve provided a recovery CD), the Help file warns:
Note: If your computer is rendered unusable through loss or damage, you may be able to recover to an identical replacement computer using the procedure below. The replacement computer must be identical to the original in every respect, except the main disk drive which must be of equal or greater capacity than the original disk drive. Any other differences can cause recovery to fail because of inconsistencies between the hardware and restored software. In addition, certain security features, such as fingerprint readers, may prevent successful recovery. If you cannot replace the old computer with an identical one, or if security features interfere with recovery, [Rebit] recommends that you instead restore only your data files to the new computer without attempting to recover the entire system.
This is not a Rebit issue, but a Windows issue, or rather a PC hardware issue: there are too many variants to be sure that everything will work if your hardware isn’t identical. Macs all have identical hardware, or very nearly, so they don’t have to worry about that. If your hard drive melts down or your operating system screws up, having a complete drive image including your software will save you a lot
of time and trouble. But if you lose your two-year-old machine to a fire or flood and replace it with a new model, your chances of being able to restore the complete drive image aren’t good.
Anyway, back to the SaveMe and what’s new with it. The difference between SaveMe and Rebit’s previous drive—at least, the one that made it seem appropriate for Mom’s photo storage needs—is that in addition to backing up the current contents of your drive (and saving copies of things you’ve deleted), SaveMe can act as a storage device, the way ordinary hard drives do.
To test this, I navigated to the Rebit in Windows Explorer (it’s Drive G just at the moment) and created a folder called “Media Storage.” Then I dragged a couple of test items over: a video, a photo. It was just like copying them onto any other disk, and I could play the video and audio files from the SaveMe drive.
Of course, as the help files warn you, the SaveMe software isn’t making backups of files you store in it’s “regular disk” area, only of the files that are on your hard drive. And as I’ve warned readers more than once, if you only have one copy, it’s not backed up, whether or not that copy is on your hard drive. So if you take advantage of the large capacity of the bigger SaveMe drives for storing photos or videos, remember to keep backups of them somewhere else, unless you really don’t care if you lose them.
And now it’s time to uninstall the SaveMe drive from my computer, remove all my data by resetting the drive (it prompts you to do this when you uninstall), repack it, and send it off to Mom.