To stand out among dozens of 2.5-inch hard drive enclosures, a new product not only has to offer great price and functionality, but good backup software as well. Over the years, there had been far too many products that scored high on hardware excellence only to be let down by mediocre software support. Qnap, an established brand in the NAS (Network Attached Storage) industry, recently launched a new range of enclosures that they think has the right balance of hardware and software attributes. To test their claim, we will be looking at the Qback-25, a storage device aimed at road warriors who demand seamless backup at a moment’s notice.
The bulk of the Qback-25 is a classy brushed aluminum shell that we think makes it one of the most attractive 2.5-inch hard drive enclosures around. Mounted upon a black plastic base, it is also one of the lightest, which bodes well for the crowd it’s courting. Like other enclosures in its class, the Qback-25 does not require an additional power input, needing just an unused USB port for power. Nevertheless, there is a secondary USB header built into the bundled USB 2.0 cable just in case you find yourself needing more juice to operate the drive. Unfortunately, the length of the cable is such it caters more for notebook over desktop computer connections.
Removing four micro screws along the side reveals the innards of the enclosure, which, at first sight, does provoke a ventilation concern. With a hard drive inserted, there is virtually no outlet for heat to escape. Fortunately, we’ve confirmed the heat emission of the drive is within normal operating limits for 2.5-inch hard drive enclosures, so there should be no further concern regarding temperature. In a nod to good engineering design, all four corners of the hard drive (sold separately) are protected by rubber bungs that not only hold the hard drive firmly within the aluminum shell but also protect it from nasty bumps and knocks when you are rushing from one meeting to the next. As an added bonus, the Qback-25 comes with a sexy little leather case to keep lint and scratches at bay.
What makes the Qback-25 extremely attractive are its propriety backup software and data encryption technology. Boasting ‘real-time’ Auto-Backup, users no longer need to make a conscious effort to backup critical data such as E-mail and reports. Since the software is programmed with an ‘incremental’ backup strategy, you can rest assured that your files will always be up to date. Not only that, you can also rest soundly knowing the Qback-25 has security measures to help you safeguard files you care most about. Files of critical importance can simply be tucked away into the “Secure” partition of the drive, which is one of two partitions in which data is stored. Data within the “Secure” partition is secured by a 256-bit Advanced Data Encryption technology, which can only be accessed by entering the right password when prompted. The highlight is that even when the Qback-25 is connected to a computer without the Qnap software installed, the “Secure” partition will continue to remain encrypted, appearing as nothing more than an unknown partition. Files located within the “Public” partition on the other hand are free for all to access.
With a good portion of its retail price going to the bundled software, it should come as no surprise that the Qback-25 is not just your run-of-the-mill hard drive enclosure. In fact, at double the price of conventional enclosures, the Qback-25 is not entirely cheap. However, for those who value security in addition to portable storage, the Qback-25 is, in our books, good value. There’s even an Expert mode for those who want to tweak security settings further. When put to the test, the Qnap backup and encryption software worked as claimed.
The Qnap Qback-25 certainly has what it takes to earn our praise for a portable hard drive enclosure. Its software bundle is not only easy to master but is also packed with advanced options to merit keen considerations from IT managers and the likes. In this regard, the Qback-25 is well worth its USD$41 price tag, which really is a small sum for demanding users with security high on their priorities.