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Aegis Portable 80GB hard drive

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Carrying around an external hard drive usually means having to remember to pack the accessories: a data cable and maybe even a power adapter. But forget either one, and even the fastest hard drive will be dead in the water. With its permanently attached cable and FireWire bus-powered operation, the Aegis Portable hard drive helps keep things moving. Now you can focus on more important things, like remembering to back up your data regularly.

The Apricorn Aegis Portable features a compact silver-and-black plastic enclosure about the size of a wallet. We reviewed the 80GB model, but the drive is also available in capacities ranging from 40GB to 160GB. Apricorn offers a similar model sporting a single tethered USB cable in the same capacities. The single port keeps its size down (it’s the smallest and lightest drive we’ve looked at recently), in spite of the built-in cable’s bulk.

While the 5.5-inch cable may be perfect for use when the drive is situated next to your MacBook, the drive includes a 39-inch extender cable for use when FireWire ports are harder to reach. It also comes with a protective case made of stretchy black neoprene. The software bundle includes imaging and synchronization utilities, Shirt Pocket’s SuperDuper (   ) and Qdea’s Synchronize X Plus. However, these are the standard versions, which you can download for free from the Web.

The drive connects to a FireWire 400 port on your Mac using the tethered cable, which tucks neatly away and snaps into a recessed channel on the side of the case when not in use. Although the drive immediately appears on the desktop, it ships formatted for Windows (FAT32), necessitating a quick visit to OS X’s Disk Utility for reformatting during setup.

Overall performance was average, but consistent with that of other portable drives we’ve recently benchmarked. In the 1GB file copy test, the Aegis Portable was neck and neck with three other portable drives, placing in the middle rank for both the 1GB duplicate and Photoshop tests.

timed trials

Copy 1GB to Drive 0:47
Duplicate 1GB on Drive 1:20
Low Memory Photoshop CS Suite 2:25

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How We Tested: We ran all tests with the FireWire drives connected to a dual-2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with Mac OS X 10.4.8 installed and 1GB of RAM. We tested the drive using FireWire 800. (In cases where a drive does not have FireWire 800, we use FireWire 400.) We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac’s hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive’s write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop’s memory set to 25 percent.—Macworld Lab Testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung


Price per gigabyte $3.24
Connectors FireWire 400
Rotational Speed 5,400 rpm
Other capacities 30GB ($159), 60GB ($209)

Macworld’s buying advice

If you often remember to pack your portable drive but forget the cables, then this drive is for you. It doesn’t offer the flexibility of multiport drives, but you won’t miss this feature unless you plan on plugging the drive into a PC, where FireWire ports are the exception. While the full version of SuperDuper would have been welcome, the included standard version can create a bootable system clone. Apricorn’s use of a slower (5,400-rpm) internal mechanism in the drive is a good match for the limited bus power available from laptops. Although this decision has a negative impact on the drive’s performance, it results in an excellent per-gigabyte price.

[ Jeffy Milstead is a Macworld Lab alumnus and writer living in San Francisco. ]

Aegis Portable 80GB
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