capsule review

Lexar Echo MX: Easy USB System Backup

At a Glance
  • Lexar Echo MX Backup Drive 128GB

    PCWorld Rating

    This Lexar drive's Echo software is pretty, but limited to file backup; and the online backup component proved slightly problematic, for now.

The 128GB Lexar Echo MX flash drive offers a thousandfold increase in capacity compared with the 128MB USB thumb drives I thought capacious ten years ago. Ain't technology amazing? Of course, flash memory this small isn't cheap--the 128GB Echo MX will set you back a hefty $400 (price as of 5/2/2011). Add in that the online portion of the backup software was problematic in my testing, and the drive's value becomes a big question mark.

The Echo MX is a standard USB storage drive--there is no CD-emulating boot partition such as you'll find on many secure and backup thumb drives. However, the lack of a boot partition also means that you can leverage the entire capacity for other kinds of self-booting and backup tricks and, as well, use the same small drive to hold the backups. The included software is portable so you can run it from any PC without installing it--if you remember to uncheck the install option.

Said bundled software, Lexar Echo Backup, is an OEM'd version of Dmailer--attractive but basic. Echo Backup (version 3.2.1883) worked fine when backing up locally. It chooses what it sees as important data on the first run, though you may select files on your own as well. It will then run in the background to back up locally whenever the Echo MX drive is inserted. However, I ran into issues with the software when configuring it to access the free 2GB Dmailer online backup portion.

Puzzlingly, immediately after signing up for a free account, I received a verification e-mail from YuuWaa, which, it turns out, is the online backup service of Gemalto, the company that bought Dmailer. No big deal; however, I could no longer boot into the program, instead receiving an error message related to Dmailer. Lexar says this is due to the transition between Dmailer's infrastructure and YuuWaa's. Regardless, as I was never able to get the online backup working, I'll take Lexar's word that you can define a separate backup set for the local and online backups--a good thing, as one can store 128GB and the other only 2GB.

There are other signs of rushed, inexperienced, and ill-behaved programming in the Echo Backup software: the program is installed in a nonstandard location, there are underscores instead of spaces in the program name in the uninstall listing, and the uninstall routine couldn't stop the program and service to complete its task--I had to do so manually. Lexar explained to me that the program is installed to User\Username\AppData\Roaming so that standard users as well as administrative users could install the software. I'm sure this will thrill any number of IT departments that delineate users in this fashion to--yes--keep them from installing software.

The Echo MX is a perfectly viable option in a 128GB thumb drive; however, with the software as it is now, choose it simply on the basis of price vs. capacity. Look for a backup freebie such as CrashPlan or Easeus Todo Backup to use for the nonce, or avoid using the online portion of the Echo Backup software until it's fixed, an event that Lexar informed me should transpire later this month.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This Lexar drive's Echo software is pretty, but limited to file backup; and the online backup component proved slightly problematic, for now.

    Pros

    • Capacious USB flash drive

    Cons

    • No USB 3.0 connection
    • Pricey
    • Buggy backup software
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