In this group, the Toshiba Canvio initially came across as the vanilla stepchild—nothing to get excited about, at least in this company, given its bland exterior and specs. We tested the 1.5TB version of the drive, which is the highest capacity offered by Toshiba. Surprisingly, it’s almost as thick as the 2TB WD drive despite its 500GB capacity deficit, so the lesson here is that if you’re going big on a USB drive, prepare to be toting around a Hot Pocket-size enclosure. The 1.5TB drive is only available in black, a decision we are just fine with since we don’t need nor want fancy colors on our USB storage. If you favor a splash of color attached to your USB port, you’ll have to get by with less capacity, as only the 500GB and 1TB models are available in red, blue, and gray (as well as black, natch).
The Toshiba drive wins the contest of lamest names for devices and software, but is still the best drive here.
On the software front, the Canvio comes with a well-rounded package that includes backup software with encryption, drive utilities, a cloud storage option, and a movie-editing app called Muvee Reveal. The NTI Backup Now EZ backup software is for Windows only, though the drive includes an NTFS driver that lets you use it with both Macs and PCs. Despite the software’s odd name, it’s actually our favorite of this roundup, simply because it offers an intuitive interface and many options for configuring backups, whether you want to back up to the Canvio drive itself or to the cloud. You can also choose to back up categories of files, individually selected files and folders, or entire drive images. You just select the files you want to back up and let it run. You can also schedule backups, and see the status of the drive onscreen in the software, which is handy. It’s also easy to password-protect the drive. The only problem we had in our tests was that the cloud option didn’t work for us—you get a 30-day free trial of cloud storage with the drive but we couldn’t activate ours. Note: The Basic model of this drive does not offer cloud storage as an option.
In our file-copy test, whereby we hustle 30GB of data over its fat USB 3.0 pipe, the Toshiba took second place overall with a time of 10 minutes, 34 seconds, which was almost two minutes slower than the WD drive, but faster than the Adata unit.
All in all, this is an excellent all-around backup drive. It’s not the highest-capacity or the thinnest drive ever, but it has great software, decent capacity, and is affordable—we don’t ask for much more in a USB storage device.