by Ben Stafford

Lexar Echo ZE Backup Drive Review

The Lexar Echo ZE backup drive is a miniature thumb drive meant to be a "plug-and-stay" backup solution - it stays in your USB drive and backs up files while you work (or play).  Available in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB models, the Echo ZE comes with Lexar Echo backup software that provides encryption of backed up data and ongoing backups to store changes to files as you make them.

Overview

As a storage device meant to stay plugged into your computer, the Lexar Echo ZE is very tiny so that it doesn't get caught while sliding a laptop in and out of a bag.  A transparent, colored plastic case surrounds the metal of the USB jack to make it easy to pull out of your USB port.  The drive is pretty inconspicuous, but does stick out a little further than I expected from the USB drive of my laptop (Thinkpad T510).

The Echo ZE drives are not speed-rated (unlike the Lexar Echo SE drives), but given the purpose of this device, it's not a problem.  After setting up the Lexar Echo Backup Manager software, the initial backup (of My Documents and Desktop files) took some time (I let it go overnight) for approximately 1GB of files.  After that, since the software only updates changed files, the lag time until a backup of that file happens is minimal (unless you're changing a lot of files at one time).  Now, if you do unplug the drive and re-insert it, the backup manager software will scan the files to check for any changes.  This can take a few minutes, depending on how many files are being "watched" by the software.

Lexar Echo Backup Manager

Lexar's backup software is included on the drive and is a snap to install - just run the setup file from the drive and you're all set.  Also, another great thing is that if you inadvertantly delete the software, you can download it from Lexar for free. 

Configuration is very straightforward and the software walks you through the steps needed to choose the settings.  The software will prompt you to setup a password (and will subsequently prompt you for the password every time the drive is inserted).  You can choose the files to backup, how many versions of each file to keep, set a size limit on the files that get backed up, and so on.  Once you complete configuration, the software starts the initial backup of the files.  After the initial backup has been saved, the software will only backup files that have changed.  The backup manager service has a relatively small system footprint as well, using under 8MB of memory on my Windows 7 system.

Optionally, the software also manages backups to an online service.  It works with Dmailer Online to backup files to both the thumb drive and an online service, once you've activated it.  Dmailer Online provides up to 2GB of storage space free and you can pay for more space ($35/year for 30GB or $70/year for unlimited space).

Warranty

The Lexar Echo ZE drive comes with a two year limited warranty.

Conclusion

The Lexar Echo ZE backup drive performs its designed role well - backup files effortlessly.  The drive won't win any speed awards, but it's not supposed to.  It is small enough to be a "plug-and-stay" backup solution and the small-system-footprint software works behind the scenes to keep a backup of your data.  The additional option to backup files online with Dmailer, is a nice extra for those even more paranoid users.  Given the $30 entry point (8GB) and the fact that it's easy to use - coupled with the fact that most people still don't regularly backup their files - we like the Echo ZE as a simple, affordable and reliable solution for file backups. 

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