CMS Products V2 ABSPlus 1TB Backup Drive
At a Glance
CMS Products V2 ABSplus 1TB
USB/e-SATA automated backup is fast, but the interface needs improvement.
The CMS V2 ABSplus 1TB ($233 as of August 31, 2009) is easily the quickest of the six automated backup drives I've looked at recently, thanks to its being the only one with an e-SATA interface. In addition, the V2 ABSplus 1TB has highly capable software, which helps account for the ABS (Automatic Backup System) part of its name; but critical interface issues marred the overall backup experience. (For a detailed discussion of different approaches to data and system backups, see "7 Backup Strategies for Your Data, Multimedia, and System Files.")
Included on most recent PCs, e-SATA is considerably faster than USB 2.0 (which the ABS also supports). Thus, when attached to the e-SATA port, the ABS 1TB took just 25 minutes to back up almost 50GB of data; over USB, it took about 50 minutes to back up the same data.
Despite its speed, though, the overriding impression I'll take away from the CMS V2 ABSplus 1TB is the shock I felt as the included BounceBack Ultimate software partitioned the hard drive I pointed it to without posing any secondary 'Are you sure?' query to confirm my intentions. The software didn't positively identify the ABSplus drive, as there was another 1TB external drive on the system, but it did show the drive letters used by both drives. The occasional lack of confirmation dialog boxes made me nervous, but BounceBack Ultimate is certainly packed with features and versatility. Despite being somewhat gaudy, the new interface is easy to navigate; and the software-hardware combo performed well overall. You can set backups to begin at first connection of the drive to the PC (USB only; e-SATA isn't plug-and-play on most PCs), and you can define backups sets, schedule backups, and back up to multiple locations.
Yet another option is to set BounceBack Ultimate for a mode called Continuous Data Protection (or CDP), which protects your files in real time as you work on them. An Instant Recovery CD handles disaster recovery. Many competing backup drives lack both of these features. If disaster strikes, the ABSplus can double as your boot drive, until you have a chance to rebuild your internal system drive.
The CMS V2 ABSplus 1TB delivers versatile, automatic backup. And once I got over the partitioning incident, I appreciated its speed. That said, if CMS wants to instill confidence in the drive's users, it needs to add confirmation dialog boxes in some key locations and rework the BounceBack interface so that it looks less like a gamer's overclocking utility.
--Jon L. Jacobi