CeBIT: Continuous backup for laptop users

SanDisk is to demonstrate a continuous backup device for laptop users at CeBIT this week, offering them what it calls a "set it and forget it" solution protecting against unintended data loss.

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SanDisk is to demonstrate a continuous backup device for laptop users at CeBIT this week, offering them what it calls a "set it and forget it" solution protecting against unintended data loss.

Most laptops are especially vulnerable to data loss, for example if they are dropped or a cup of hot coffee is spilled over the machine. However the SanDisk FlashBack Adapter is intended to resolve the perennial backup problem for laptop users, without the need to regularly connect to an external backup drive.

The adapter is a SD flash memory card that fits into the ExpressCard slot. It automatically and continuously backs up and encrypts data to a SD (secure digital) or SDHC (secure digital high-capacity) flash memory card of any capacity.

Users purchase an SD or SDHC memory card with the capacity they need, and then slide the card with the adapter into their laptop’s ExpressCard slot. The adapter comes with Windows-based software that, once installed, allows the user to pre-select backup sources by individual files, folders and/or file types.

Once set up, the device then automatically and continuously backs up and encrypts the user’s data from the computer’s hard drive to the memory card.

A backup is triggered as soon as a change is detected to a designated file or folder, or when a file is added or deleted. This removes the need to schedule backups, and allows the device to operate in the background without the need for further user intervention.

A screen indicator displays the amount of available storage, along with a taskbar icon that displays the ongoing backup status.

The software also allows data to be restored. The user simply selects the encrypted files on the memory card and indicates the restore destination. Alternatively, data can also be restored on any PC using Windows 2000, XP, or Vista that has an SD memory card reader. The SanDisk FlashBack Adapter is not needed for this process.

While flash memory is non-volatile, which means it can store data without a constant supply of electricity and protect that data in the event of a battery failure or unintended shutdown, it is somewhat unusual to see SD cards used for backup purposes, as they have been known to occasionally suffer corruption and/or data loss. The perception is they offer a less reliable backup option than external HDDs (hard disc drives) for example.

But to guard against this, and possible laptop theft, the SanDisk FlashBack Adapter also gives users an option to back up their content online. This service is provided by BeInSync for a nominal fee and in addition to local storage on an SD or SDHC memory card.

The SanDisk FlashBack Adapter includes a two-year warranty, a mini-CD containing the backup software and a user’s guide. The product will start shipping worldwide in the second quarter, and carries a suggested retail price of $29.99 (£14.90). The memory card is sold separately.

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