As you may know, we have reviewed both desktop hard drives and portable hard drives here at Using Windows Home Server, and we have our hands on one of the new HP SimpleSave SD320A portable hard drives and its time for the review.


HP say “the HP SimpleSave external hard drive series for customers needing a simple and automatic back up for photos, video, music and data. “

The new SimpleSave hard drive family consists of two products, SimpleSave Portable, available in 320 and 500 GB capacities, and SimpleSave Desktop, available in 1 and 2 TB capacities. Both devices feature pre-installed backup software. SimpleSave is so simple that anyone can use it. The software automatically finds and backs up the data on the PC, and after the first backup, automatically updates the backup with file changes whenever the computer is idle.

A single SimpleSave drive can be used to backup all the PCs in the home, with data from each PC clearly identified by name on the drive to make finding and restoring a specific PC’s data is a snap.

The SimpleSave hard drives are designed with heat-dissipating cases that stay cool and run quietly without a fan.  The SimpleSave Portable is powered by the PC’s USB 2.0 port and does not require an external power supply. In addition, the 2.5-inch portable model is designed with a shock-resistant case to protect the drive from the bumps and jolts of everyday usage.

Other features include:

· Generous storage space:  The ultra portable 2.5-inch SimpleSave portable is available in 320GB and 500GB. The 3.5-inch SimpleSave Desktop ships with 1TB or 2TB of storage.

· Hundreds of file formats supported:  Supports the most common file types for photo, music and documents including, jpg, mpeg, bmp, gif, tif, mp3, aac, xls, ppt, doc, pdf, tax, qdf and many more.

· Frequent backup update: Backs up new and changed files every time the PC is idle for five minutes.

· Plug-and-play storage: Connect it to a USB port and it’s ready to use.

· Support for large files: NTFS file system offers improved support for metadata and use of advanced data structures, improving performance, reliability and disk space.

· Two-year warranty

The SD320A drive is small, quiet, and has the same glossy black look about it as the HP MediaSmart servers. In fact, if it wasn’t for the HP SimpleSave logo on the front you would think it was just any other portable hard drive.


The only connector on the whole of the drive is the USB connector on the back. It is completely powered by USB so there are no extra power cables to have to carry along with you.



The box itself is small and only contains the SD320A drive, and USB cable and a quick installation guide.

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Connecting up the SD320A was a breeze – well it should be really, it’s only a single USB cable connected to the SD320A and the other end into the computer you want use with it.

If this is the first time you have connected the SD320A to a computer, Windows will automatically install the relevant drivers for you.

Driver installation

At this point, two separate AutoPlay boxes pop up, one for the HP software and one for the drive itself.

CD Drive autoplay HP SimpleSave autoplay

While some may find this a little confusing, this is the norm on most USB storage devices these days. Effectively you have a virtual CD (that contains the relevant software) and then the drive itself (which also contains the HP software and the documentation).

Ignoring the HP SimpleSave drive itself for the moment, we shall start up the software by running the HPLauncher software offered to us via the virtual CD drive (the N drive in my case).

HP SimpleSave logo

The first thing that comes up after the pretty HP SimpleSave logo screen is the licence agreement.

Licence Agreement

This is a nice feature, after you have accepted the agreement, you are presented with the Welcome Screen, and a countdown clock telling you that the backup will automatically begin.

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Because I wanted to be specific about what I wanted backed up, I clicked on My Options. From here you can select the file types and locations that will be backed up.

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You can leave the defaults, which is just about everything everywhere, or you can be very specific. In my case I want to back up all my music.

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Once I have selected what I want backed up and from where, I just need to click the Start button.

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The backup is prepared for me – basically this is the program going and checking my drives for the chosen files.

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I can then see a summary of what will be backed up.

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I can look a little bit deeper if I want and even exclude items if I wish.

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Then again, it’s just a case of clicking the Start button and waiting while it performs the backup. You can see the status along the way.

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So just sit back and relax – you will be told when the backup is complete.

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If you do want to see the report, clicking the View Report button will fire up Notepad and show you some information.

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Now the backup part is only the beginning. You will at some point want to recover something from the backup. You will notice next time the software starts that you have two extra buttons there were not there before – Explore and Restore.

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Explore is useful for finding the file you want to restore before going into the restore function – although to be honest, it it just as quick, if not quicker to just fire up the restore process, and then look that way, although the explore option does allow you to access the file if you want to play them back for example.

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When you click on Restore you just have to pick the backup you want to use, what you want to restore (you can restore everything or just a single file, or any combination in between).

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Then you just need to decide where you want to restore to – the original location or somewhere else. This is very useful as you may not want to overwrite what is already there.

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Then you just wait while the restore takes place.

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And as with the backup, you can see a report at the end if you wish.

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Well it is so simple to use that even my Dad could use it. Just plug it in, select what you want to back up, and just wait while it backs up for you. So, it actually does exactly what it says on the tin – Saves Simply!!!

It is really easy to select or rather unselect what you don’t want to backup with a simple few clicks. The software is easy to use and is clean and simple to understand. It tells you how much space you need and how much is remaining, so no worries about getting half way through and it running out of space, then the pain of having to manually clean up files so that you can start the backup again.

If you want to gain access to anything that you have backed up it is easy as well, just open the folder on the drive and hey presto! It really is a dream to use.

You don’t have to use the software either, if you just want to copy and paste something to the drive you can. But obviously you have to go find the bits you want to copy yourself, where as the software will search all your drives to find “music” or “photos” or whatever you want.

The retail prices are as follows (for the US): SimpleSave Portable:  320GB, $119.99; 2.5-inch hard drive, 500GB, $149 and the SimpleSave Desktop:  1TB hard drive , $149.99; 2TB hard drive, $329.99.

Amazon have some good deals already on the drives, the 320GB is $75.95 and the 500GB is $119.99 at the time of writing.

So what are you waiting for? Go get one now! This is highly recommended.