Announcing the 19th ZDNet reader to get free gear (Buffalo's 80GB turbo-USB drive)

When I announced last week that we were looking to deputize a ZDNet reader into testing what basically amounts to an external USB-based hard drive, my expectations in terms of the sorts of business applications I'd see were pretty minimal.  Of course, the drive I was giving away doesn't claim to be your every day ordinary USB drive.

When I announced last week that we were looking to deputize a ZDNet reader into testing what basically amounts to an external USB-based hard drive, my expectations in terms of the sorts of business applications I'd see were pretty minimal.  Of course, the drive I was giving away doesn't claim to be your every day ordinary USB drive.  Buffalo's 80GB MiniStation can theoretically transfer data between itself and a PC 64 percent faster than a typical USB drive.  Given that it's the middle of summer, I figured we'd get mostly enthusiasts and geeks who wanted the latest gizmo. Or, someone who is constantly doing digital housecleaning.  For example, Boogie wrote:

....I do have a house full of wired and wireless devices and a wife,and Daughter and Daughter-in-law with passion's for Pic's, Not to mention my passion for commercial free music on my zune and the girl's IPOD's, @ any one time in the house, there is normally 3 pc's, a couple of ipods,a zune and a Xbox 360 going around here, and every weekend I get to go to all 3 pc's and tranfer content to my portable drives and clean up the mess left on the PC's....

But the business people really came out of the woodwork for this little guy (almost fits in the palm of your hand) and it was tougher to pick a winner than I originally thought it would be. As it turns out, there's a whole bunch of existing scenarios where a speed demon USB hard drive would solve some very real world problems. For example:

Wes wrote: I have a Mac and a PC that we use in our video editing company and I am constantly moving files between the two computers. We deal with really LARGE media files and it always takes FOREVER to transfer over USB and we would like to test this drive to see if you could actually edit broadcast HD via the drive or to what extent you could.

MGP2 said: ....In my Active Directory class, we use multiple VMWare image files to implement Active Directory on a team of servers. Since I like to work on my labs at home, I copy 12GB of VMWare files onto a 160GB external hard drive to bring them to class and load them onto my classroom pc for grading. It sure would be nice to have a smaller device (especially one that looks to be about 1/5 the size and weight), as opposed to packing my drive in bubble wrap each week....

Matt's "500GB USB 2.0 drive is so sluggish that I cannot run a VM from it. I have to copy the VM to the hard drive to run it from there, then I have to copy it back to backup the VM. Then when I take the hard drive to a different computer... same old thing......As far as the security goes, I handle computer security for my company and have been investigating various tools for transporting and securing confidential information."

Reid is "a Systems Administrator in the process of a large scale server deployment/upgrade for [his] hospital where capacity and encryption are crucial. The capacity of this drive would let [him] "Ghost" images to it, deploy the new server OS and then restore the data all via USB."

Birddawg wrote: My company does a lot of high end graphics and video for customers. I would like to have a portable media system that can be able to transfer large files fast. Most of my files are between 5 and 40GB and I need to be able to display them to a customer from a laptop........I have found that even with a Gigabit network it still takes about 15 mins to transfer a file at 40GB. I also currently use a seagate 40GB pocket drive and a Western Digital 60GB drive to transport files. If I were to get this I would be able to test this against the industry's conterparts to see if it is truely faster......

Jeff said:....I need to be able to back up my files and leave them here for my Lead driver to access on a second PC in my office (Win 2000!!) when I am out of town at the other domicile. The Encryption software would get a good workout, as there is personal information in the files that should not be accessed when I am not there...

UpNDown: ...I am a programming consultant who travels CONSTANTLY. When I go to a client site, I always have a need to copy many large files to an external drive for retrieval by other members of my team and/or the client, as well. A flash drive doesn't work simply because it's too small.....

OV1Kenobi needs a way to backup (and subsequently restore) data files from [his] sandbox SQL 2005 server (I have a database just aching to try this on, a complete custom instance of the National Do Not Call Database; safe to say, it's Huge!). And maybe a third feasibility check of using this device as a backup repository for source code control.

NPWang is clearly frustrated: ....I work with 3D modeling, CAD, and CAM software (large files) for a product design company, and everyday I need to take data off of my work computer to bring home the files to work on.....My current USB drive's connection is too slow to work on the file directly from my external hard drive. If this turbo-drive is what it claims to be, I won't have to do the time consuming task of copying the files to my internal hard drive, editing them, and then re-copying them back onto the USB drive. I definitely will use the encryption feature, as most of the products I work with are confidential.

So, who does will this drive go to? The reader who's writeup and testing environment was most convincing in terms of working this drive out against it's claims.  Wrote Geek4Life:

On-the-fly data encryption at full speed? For years I have been creating my own portable hard drives from laptop hard drives and external hard drive enclosures so that I could have the combination of capacity and speed that I require without paying exuberant prices typically desired for portable data storage. Disregarding the slight bulk, the custom solutions still fail to completely fulfill my needs for I have yet to find a comprehensive, cross-platform encryption software that supports on-the-fly data encryption/decryption. This has forced me to install the encryption software on all computers used, and in some cases even maintain two separate copies of the files, protected by separate encryption software due to compatibility issues under the various editions of Windows (95 through Vista) and Mac (OS X and Mac OS “Classic”). Constantly decrypting files before opening or copying them, then re-encrypting upon completion of any necessary modifications has proved to be a very time-consuming task indeed. 
Should I be selected to review the Buffalo Tech 80GB Ministation I will critique all of its features on a collection of computers, with emphasis on benchmarking it under Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.4. In particular, I would like the opportunity to test its encryption software, determining if it is capable of securing the confidential documents I am normally charged with protecting, without a drastic reduction in read/write speeds. Furthermore, I would like to see if the included software can be extended to enhance the drive’s capabilities under traditional Linux distros running Wine. If that is a possibility the Buffalo Tech 80GB Ministation may truly be the solution I have long desired...

Between the title of this entry (which says performance is going to be tested while the drive's encryption option is engaged), the cross platform testing (meeting another of Buffalo's claims), and this reader's attempts to address his/her problem through his/her own ingenuity, I have no doubt that the drive is going to get a valid test with this reader.  That said, this reader only won it by a hair.  Some of the other aforementioned entries were very close to being the winner. If you attempted to get deputized into our program for this or other giveaways, please keep trying! You could be the next ZDNet Deputy Tester of the Week!
Congratulations Geek4Life.  We’ll be in touch shortly to get the product to you.


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