capsule review

Rebit 500 GB Appliance Backup Drive

At a Glance
  • Rebit 500 GB Appliance

    PCWorld Rating

    Simple, effective real-time hardware backup relies on minimally intrusive software.

Rebit's external hard drive and software package, the Rebit 500 GB Appliance ($190 for a single PC and $240 for multiple PCs, as of August 30, 2009), lives up to its promise to provide easy, hands-free backup. Rebit's approach differs slightly from that of competing simple backup products; but like them, it lets you plug it in and leave the hard work of creating a backup to the device itself. (For a detailed discussion of different approaches to data and system backups, see "7 Backup Strategies for Your Data, Multimedia, and System Files.")

This straightforward backup system combines an ordinary external hard drive with extremely easy-to-use software. Like the Clickfree Traveler, Clickfree Backup Drive 1TB, HP SimpleSave, and Seagate Replica drives, the Rebit requires little user intervention during setup. Just plug in the Rebit, and (if Windows Auto-play is enabled) enter a product key; the key is annoyingly long and difficult to read, but it may be this product's only user-unfriendly characteristic. Then click Okay at a couple of prompts to install the software on your PC. From there, a transparent, background backup of your PC begins immediately; when it has finished, the software sits in the background and backs up files as they change. It's all hands-off, simple, and elegant.

Unlike the Clickfree and HP SimpleSave products, the Rebit backs up everything on your system--including applications and system files--to an image file that you can read only on a system loaded with the Rebit software. Also, Rebit supports file versioning, which enables you to go back to and restore a previous version of a document, if needed. Like the CMS V2 ABSPlus 1TB, Rebit supports continuous backup, so you can leave the drive attached to your PC for continuous protection (the Rebit package will back up files as they change).

Much of Rebit's simplicity stems from its lack of a file selection process: The drive simply backs up everything (space allowing). The Rebit worked perfectly in all my tests, but I quickly grew tired of nag messages telling me that the drive was not attached when I removed it for safekeeping.

The Rebit Appliance gives you two ways to restore files backed up on it: You can browse the drive (using Windows Explorer), and drag desired files and folders off it; or you can perform a wholesale restore using the Rebit disaster recovery CD. I wish, however, that Rebit provided some rudimentary restore hand-holding for users less who are inexperienced at navigating the Windows file system--by supporting, say, a quick search by file type or category.

Another quibble involves Rebit's desktop hardware. Smaller, 2.5-inch hard drive enclosures don't have room for FireWire 800 or eSATA interfaces; but the 3.5-inch enclosure on the desktop Rebit I reviewed does have room for them, and at this price I'd like to see those ports included for greater versatility and speed. Another issue: The desktop Rebit packs in just 500GB of storage space, which may not go far if your PC carries a 1TB drive.

When it debuted, Rebit was an innovative product--one of the first to give PCs set-it-and-forget-it backup. But the company now has competition (from Seagate, which licenses the Rebit software for its Seagate Replica drive), and it needs to follow the competition's lead in discarding product keys and in dropping its charge of $50 extra for drives that will back up multiple PCs. Currently the Seagate Replica is the better deal of the two: It's cheaper and more stylish than the Rebit 500 GB Appliance, and it can back up multiple PCs.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Simple, effective real-time hardware backup relies on minimally intrusive software.

    Pros

    • Continuous data protection
    • Disaster recovery CD included

    Cons

    • USB only
    • User can't disable frequent reminders
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