USB 3.0 is the marriage of universal portability and blazing speed. While a lot of desktops have E-Sata available, it never really took off. E-Sata was a step in the right direction. Much like Firewire, it's lack of universal portability has kept it from going mainstream. Both Firewire and E-Sata gave us the speed we craved. They just didn't provide the level of portability we were looking for.

The new USB 3.0 standard is backward compatible with USB 2.0. So just about every desktop you run into will be able to read USB 3.0 devices, but will be limited to USB 2.0 speeds. But with the use of an expansion card, it can get the full speed of USB 3.0. Laptops have also been limited to USB 2.0 speeds. We are sure that newer models will adopt USB 3.0. But if you are like us, a laptop is a significant investment. And we aren't looking to buy an expensive new laptop just to get USB 3.0.

At CES 2010, Seagate showed us the BlackArmor PS110 USB 3.0 External Drive and we couldn't wait to get our hands one. Why would we what USB 3.0 on a laptop? Well for one thing, it's theoretically up to 10x faster than USB 2.0. Backing up to USB 2.0 on the lab's laptop was a "Start the backup and go to sleep." affair. Our only other option was to pull the 2.5 inch Sata drive out, connect it to a desktop, and backup or clone it from there. Which is what we had been doing.

The inherent problem with cloning, is that it's a one to one drive operation. So for every backup on the 9 or 10 machines we have around, we have to have an extra drive to spare, per rig. The included software, BlackArmor Backup (Powered by Acronis), backs up the entire drive, operating system included, to a single file. In other words we can use the blazing speed of the Seagate BlackArmor and the BlackArmor Backup software to fit as many hard drive backups on one drive, as space will allow. The drive also provides blazing fast storage for any type file you want to store.

For the E-tail Price of $179.99, you get blazing speed and a lots of storage. It can be used for laptops with ExpressCard slots, or for desktop operation through USB 2.0 or USB 3.0. It's capable of backing up multiple hard drive operating systems on one drive. And It's a relatively inexpensive backup method for multiple machines. Don't forget, that your also upgrading a laptop from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0. And you know USB 3.0 capable laptops are going to command a premium price.

Just how much faster is the drive than our previous USB 2.0 backup method? Well, on USB 2.0 it took 6 to 7 hours to back up the lab's laptop. Needless to say, backups weren't getting done in a timely manner. The first time we backed-up with the Seagate BlackArmor, it took 33 minutes flat. In that amount of time, we can take a short lunch break and have a complete backup of the most vital laptop we use in our day to day operation. That's piece of mind and an increase in productivity. You can't put a price on that. We recently had laptop issues and it took more than two full days to get back up to a reasonable level of operation. As a result, there was a gap in our email communications, with valued vendors. This wouldn't have happened had we owned the BlackArmor PS110. A 30 minute burp in daily operations is all it would have taken to avoid this. That's the speed and advantage the Seagate BlackArmor gives us. And you can have that speed and advantage too.

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