3 Articles for 2022/05/19
I received my new Rebit 5 device, a charmingly slim, black 500 GB portable hard drive, on March 21st. (There was a time when Rebit wanted to get away from selling hardware, but that idea seems to have fallen by the wayside.)
The first time I tested a Rebit drive, the software was pre-installed on the drive. Also the second time. And the third time, with the SaveMe drive I got for my mother. The CD included in the package was only for emergency restores.
This time the CD was identical to the CDs distributed for software-only sales, though a sticker on the package says “Use ONLY for complete PC disk recovery.” (The CD itself says “Installation and PC recovery disk.)
I did notice that the drive sent to me for review purposes (FTC disclosure: that means I got it free) must have been made before Rebit changed its logo from the original graceful frog to a squat, comic frog that appears to be a stylized version of the letter R.
I’ve noticed an abrupt price decrease in Rebit drives, which may partly be a function of the continuously falling cost of storage. The cost of a 1TB external Rebit drive, $99, is pretty much in line with the cost of other 1 TB external hard drives. Back when I bought my mother her SaveMe drive (you know, the one she doesn’t use because it doesn’t fit on the table), it cost about twice what a non-Rebit drive of the same capacity would have.
It’s not as though installing and configuring Rebit has become enormously complex, however. Even though the program didn’t auto-launch, it was pretty clear what to do after I found start.exe on the Rebit drive. (That colorful stuff you see behind the gray square is my wallpaper, courtesy of a new app called Silk.)
Once the software is installed, it prompts you to choose a backup location. One nice feature: the same program can back up to both local and network drives. I started out by backing up to the 500 GB USB drive, but when later that week I got a new NAS drive (more on that in my next reminder), I added it as a second backup location. If I have both drives connected, Rebit will update my backups on both of them.
Rebit also asks which drives to back up. My very first Rebit drive was confused by the fact that my then-computer had two internal drives. This Rebit isn’t troubled in the least by the fact that Auset’s drive is partitioned into a C and D drive, and it would even back up attached USB drives if I asked it to. (It would have a little trouble fitting the contents of 1.5 TB Qualora onto the 500 GB Rebit drive, however, so I stuck with C and D.) Rebit does back up the C (system) drive by default.
Next Rebit tells you what you can expect as the backup progresses, including a key to the different progress symbols and a warning that your initial backup could take several hours.
And we’re off!
I started backing up my 500 GB internal drive (partitioned, as I said, into a C (system) and D (data) drive) late in the afternoon on Monday. By the time I went to bed it was 46% finished backing up drive D. When I woke up, it was 45.5% finished backing up drive C.
So it’s not breaking any speed records, but I was using the computer all of Monday afternoon while the backup was running. (During the remainder of the backup of drive C on Tuesday, I used my netbook for e-mail.) And by comparison with that very first Rebit drive I ever tested, it’s gotten a lot faster. It took less than 24 hours to get everything backed up.
Once I got the go-ahead, I decided to browse my Rebit backup in Windows Explorer. This shows up as a separate entry from the drive’s contents. (You can store things besides a Rebit backup on the drive you use as your backup destination, as long as there’s enough room for your backup.) What you see looks like the “My Computer” view in Windows—except the folders are green. If you hover over a file, Rebit will tell you how many versions are backed up. In fact, if you hover over a document anywhere in Windows Explorer, it will tell you how many versions Rebit 5 has backed up. And if you right-click on an item, you’ll see the Rebit icon in the context menu, with an option to restore the item, or browse in Rebit 5.
I decided to investigate a few more of the features and possibilities, so I clicked the “Make Recovery Point” button. Rebit does this once a day anyway, but you can do it at a specific time if you want, say before installing a software upgrade.
I noticed a note about recovery points in the Rebit help files:
The recovery point did take a while to complete, but nothing like as long a time as the first backup, and I didn’t notice any problems with AVG.
I also took a look in the settings, which you can find by clicking that gear-shaped button in the lower right corner of the program screen. This is where I was able to add the NAS drive as a backup location—once I had mapped it to a drive letter. Other options include password-protecting your backups and creating a recovery disk in case you lose the one that shipped with your Rebit.
Having negotiated all of this successfully with my main laptop, I determined to try it with my netbook, as well. But since I was planning to back up to the NAS drive and not the new USB drive, I needed a way to install the software that didn’t require a CD.
As it happened, copying the contents of the CD onto a USB stick and using that to install the software on the netbook worked like a charm. The Rebit 5 drives come with a 3-PC license, so there was no problem about activating the software. The license key printed on the back of the quick start card might be something you want to back up, though.
Backing up the netbook was fairly speedy, though in both cases the network backup was slower than the USB backup. This is not surprising given that I don’t have a gigabit network, though my NAS drive is designed to connect to one. The Rebit 5 can use USB 3, the new super-fast USB standard, but that’s so new that neither of my computers has it. (eSATA might have been a better choice for the present, but USB 3 will probably take off in the next few years.)
Since then, Rebit has run quietly in the background and not caused any troubles or perceptible slow-downs of any kind. It’s possible to pause the backups if for some reason you need to—like, say, you’re recording a Skype conversation onto your hard drive and running a continuous backup program at the same time has a good chance of eating up all your memory. I’ve noticed that even when the backup is complete, the USB drive doesn’t want to be removed unless I have all my Windows Explorer windows closed, which can be a bit annoying.
All in all, I think Rebit 5 is a great product, and I intend to leave it running—not something I do with many of the backup programs I test. It’s a little more complex than at its inception, but it also seems to be better at what it does.
I have also, through the good offices of Marilyn Kroner, found myself in possession of two spare CDs with Rebit 5 software on them—both for 3PC licenses. Since I only own two PCs and I can’t imagine the Ur-Guru using Rebit, it therefore falls to me to give these CDs away. I just have to devise an appropriate set of rules, which I’ll announce in another post and on Twitter and LinkedIn.
It seems like only yesterday that I was writing my review of Dmailer’s online backup service. It was actually almost a year ago. That was long enough, apparently, to convince the folks at Dmailer to get out of the crowded online backup market. They’re handing their online service over to YuuWaa.
I haven’t mentioned YuuWaa before, but they have been around for a while; they’re on my list of companies whose pitches I haven’t gotten to responding to yet. Their claim to fame is flash drives plus—in this case, plus online storage, though their other plus is file sharing.
Users of the Dmailer software will be able to back up to YuuWaa through Dmailer by logging out of Dmailer and setting up a YuuWaa account, but will have to transfer their data themselves.
Joel Maki at Zetta has been sending me pitches for about a million years. The problem is, Zetta provides enterprise storage services, which isn’t want most of my readers are looking for.
Most recently, however, he sent a copy of the report Zetta VP Products Chris Schinn gave at the November 2010 Cloud Expo. There are some useful statistics about the growth of data and storage needs, incidence of data loss, and the like, that I thought readers might be interested in.
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Zetta is pitching cloud-based sync and replicate as the wave of the future—with versioning to prevent replicating those dreadful “Oops!” moments when you manage to destroy the project you’ve spent weeks working on. This is not so different (in fact, you’d have to talk to representatives of the two companies to know precisely how different it actually is) from the Continuous Data Protection first advertised by LiveVault in their Backup Trauma Institute video in 2005. LiveVault has since been acquired by Iron Mountain, which is also offering cloud-based backup.
Enterprise services like these definitely have their advantages over tape and disk-to-tape, but I have the same doubts I did in 2005, for the same reason: we have terrible broadband infrastructure in this country. Retrieving a few lost files, or searching them, is certainly going to be easier with cloud-based backups than with tapes. And you have protection against fire, theft, and natural disaster. But are you really going to be able to restore terabytes, perhaps even petabytes of data via a network connection?
Schinn’s report suggests that in the event of a disaster, a company can simply “fail over” to the cloud-based files instead of actually restoring them. This is an interesting proposition and would certainly allow employees whose office had, say, been flattened in an earthquake or washed out in a tsunami, to continue to work remotely from anywhere they could get a connection. (Possibly not so easy to do following said earthquake and tsunami, as we’ve recently discovered.) Mounting storage is a bit different from mirroring the web server and mail server, but not all companies keep those on site, anyway, so chances are decent those machines are in a secure data center at a different location.
There are types of data I don’t back up online for security reasons, yet I find transfer speeds and possible outages a much greater deterrent to converting all my backup to a service like Zetta’s. For one thing, it’s not very logical for me to be unwilling to back up my Quicken data online when I file my taxes online and do my banking and most of my shopping online, and for another, serious security breaches involving financial and other institutions almost always involve the physical theft of physical backup tapes.
But infrastructure bottlenecks are a real issue. In most parts of the United States, small businesses and consumers alike have one choice for cable Internet and one choice for DSL. According to NetIndex, California has an average consumer download speed of 10.91 Mbps, and an upload speed of 2.24 Mbps. (Speedtest.net gives me a download score of 16.67 Mbps and an upload score of 4.21 Mbps, a bit above average.) Compare that to the Netherlands, where the average download speed is 23.51 Mbps. The average. The Ur-guru has Internet in excess of 100 Mbps downstream.
If I follow the math correctly (see Wikipedia on why the math of bits and bytes is never simple), a megabit is 1/8 of a megabyte. So if you had an 8 Mbps connection, you could move one MB (megabyte) per second through it. My connection is about 16 Mbps, so I can download 2 MB per second.
I have about 274 GB of data and software on this computer right now. That’s 274,000 MB. If I had to download that over my current connection, it would take 38 hours and change. (That’s assuming I actually maintained that download speed, and let me tell you, nothing I download ever downloads that fast. Official download speeds and actual download speeds are not the same thing.) A day and a half for the contents of one laptop.
If I had to upload all that…well, I wouldn’t. This is why some cloud storage companies, including Amazon S3, give you the option to make your first backup by sending a physical drive. (It’s not clear from Zetta’s website whether they do something like this.)
So until we have considerably faster upload speeds available to us, I don’t think the enterprise has really come to the end of backups, even though we might be moving from a disk-to-disk-to-tape model to a disk-to-disk-to-cloud model. Which does, I have to admit, sound like an improvement.