Apacer AC202 External Hard Drive
Software & Testing
Software and Testing
Included in the box is a small disc which contains a driver for Windows 98 computers, as well as back-up software which works in conjunction with the smart copy button located on the back of the caddy. Installing the software took only a few moments, and then it's just a matter of configuring it.
The first screen is where you select files/folders which you wish to have synchronised to the drive. Highlighting folders/files in the left hand column, then clicking the arrow will add them to the backup queue.
Clicking 'Settings' on the left hand column brings up the (you guessed it) settings page. Here you can change a variety of options for the backup, such as enabling or disabling the Smart Copy backup button and changing the type of backup performed.
Our first port of call for testing was HDtach. The program allows us to test the read speed of each of the drives, making it easy to compare the drives side by side. We ran the longer of the two tests available in the program, 32mb zones, on each drive and then compared the read speed, burst speed and latency of each drive.
As expected, the flash based USB drives walked all over the Apacer in terms of random access - illustrating the massive difference between solid state and mechanical drives. When it comes to burst and average reads the generic drive is well and truly left behind. The AC202 manages to outpace the Voyager by quite a margin when it comes to average reads, but the Voyager closes up a little on the burst reads. The lack of difference between the Burst and Average reads on the AC202 suggest to me that it is being bottlenecked by the USB interface (eSata would have been nice to avoid this bottleneck).
Windows File Write
Of course, reading isn't the only way to judge a drives performance - writing is also important. To test the write performance of the drives a copy of 3D Mark Vantage was transfered onto each of the drives, and the time recorded with a stop watch.
As writing is the Achilles heel of flash memory, it probably comes as no surprise that the AC202 walked this test. This doesn't necessarily mean that flash drives are useless - they're completely different in concept and design, and have been included purely for comparison. I can't help but feel performance is a bit of a moot point for external hard drives, since the USB interface will almost certainly bottleneck any modern hard drive, and appeared to do so in today's testing. The inclusion of eSata therefore would have been nice...
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