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Enermax Glory

Date: January 30, 2007
Author(s): Matt Serrano

Enermax has provided a “one-touch-backup” solution in their external hard drive enclosure, the Glory. However as we quickly found out, the key backup features are not as glorious as the rest of the product.



Introduction


External hard drives definitely have their uses. If you plan on backing up important data, storing extra files, or moving data from one computer to another, sometimes it’s nice to have the piece of mind and luxury they can give you. There’s one glaring issue though: buying an external drive out of the box will leave you with the same disk inside for the span of its life (unless you plan on voiding the warranty). You’re stuck with the same storage capacity and warranty period. In some situations, it’s better to buy an external enclosure and put your own drive inside.

Enermax, probably better known for their power supplies and computer cases, have come out with a new external enclosure, which they call the Glory. This product may not seem like a big deal, but there’s something that sets this enclosure apart from the rest that should, in theory, help you back up the data you need literally at the press of a button.

On paper, a combination hardware and software backup solution sounds perfect. Software like Microsoft’s Shadow Copy and Apple’s Time Machine try to allow users an easy way to secure their important files (along with countless other third-party products out there) but inconvenience (and laziness) has always been a limiting factor. Let’s see how the Glory stacks up.

Unboxing

Nothing special is going on here. The box art and packaging for the Glory is simple and attractive. The various features of the unit are outlined on the front and back, along with a picture of the enclosure in silver, and the words “Glory” spiraling outward.

As soon as you open the box, you’re greeted with the case itself, in all its aluminum glory (OK, bad pun).

Under more Styrofoam padding, you have the accessories packaged in separate compartments. There is an AC adaptor, USB cable, and stand included.

Here’s a shot of the manual and software disc.

On the side of the body, the word “Glory” has been etched on in a tan color with white sparkles complimenting it.

Along the back, we have the AC adaptor connection, power switch, and USB port.

The three buttons for the backing up and restoring data reside underneath the Enermax logo and status LEDs. The top LED glows green to show the unit is on, and the bottom glows red when the drive is accessed.

The case is a few inches longer than the 3.5″ drive that goes inside, but thanks to the stand Enermax provided with the enclosure, I can reclaim some of my desk space without having to pile things on top of it.



Installation and Testing, Final Thoughts

The installation for the 3.5″ IDE hard drive is done by simply taking out two screws in the back on the case, and sliding the cover off. The IDE ribbon cable and molex cable connect to the hard drive at the rear of the enclosure. Once everything’s put in place, the hard drive slides in, and you can close the unit the same way it was opened. If that wasn’t easy enough, Enermax includes all of the installation instructions in the user manual (considering some enclosures don’t even come with manuals). However, the instructions seem to be written very poorly. It’s easy enough to follow, but the English could have been better.

Here’s the enclosure’s board, with a hard drive connected. The Glory uses a Cypress USB chip, which Enermax claims to offer “maximum performance”.

The hard drive needs power from an outlet to work, so both the AC adaptor and USB cable need to be plugged in while the drive is in use (which is no surprise here). Once the hard drive is connected and turned on, the Glory will show up as a regular drive in My Computer in Windows (or the Finder in OS X, mountable as an IDE drive in Linux, etc.). The Glory will have the same label as the drive that was put inside, so if you have an unformatted drive fresh out the box, formatting it is done in the same fashion as an internal drive.

Even though the drive will show up in all operating systems, Enermax’s software only works with Windows 2000 and XP. If you don’t install the software, the drive will still be usable, but the buttons on the enclosure and backup features cannot be taken advantage of. This is disappointing, because the major selling point of the enclosure is limited to Windows users only. I’d love to see Enermax provide drivers for other platforms in the future, or give out documentation for coders to write their own.

After the software is installed, you should notice a new icon in your taskbar. Clicking on this will give you the option of creating a boot CD, which we’ll get into later.

Pressing a button on the enclosure will each open a different window. This leads me to my first complaint: the software can only by accessed by pressing the buttons on the case, and there are no shortcuts that are created when the software is installed (other than the one that actually enables the backup features), so you have to press one of the buttons on the enclosure (which, in my case, means leaning over my desk instead of clicking on an icon) every time you want to run the software. Fortunately, programs can be found in the default installation directory, and you can create your own shortcuts.

The first button will launch the drive backup feature. Here, you are given the option of whether or not you want to backup a specific folder, or all of the files on a hard drive.

The problem with the data backup feature is that it doesn’t actually work like it should. Instead of copying the folder that was selected, it would only make a backup of my “My Documents” folder, regardless of what folder or drive I chose. This is a major issue that Enermax needs to address.

The O.S. backup feature shared a similar problem. Unlike what is stated in the manual, the O.S. backup doesn’t just copy the system files, instead it mirrors the entire drive the operating system is installed on (which, in turn, eliminates the need for the “All files” backup choice that came before it). The only difference here is that the computer will reboot to a DOS prompt, and run Enermax’s software. Since I have 105GB of space used on my hard drive and 80GB on the external drive, the feature wasn’t even usable without removing what files couldn’t fit.

There’s still more to complain about on the software front. Even if you transfer files without the software’s help (through Explorer, or another operating system’s file manager), the restore feature will only move back files that were transferred using Enermax’s O.S. or data backup functions on its software. Creating a live CD (or using the same software disk that comes in the package) will allow you to restore the operating system without having to boot into a working Windows install.

Despite the problems with the software, the Glory still has some redeeming qualities. Read and write access left the drive inside dead silent, and temperatures weren’t even warm to the touch. When I put my ear next to the case while data was being transferred, I could hear a soft crackling noise, but it’s nothing you would hear under normal conditions. The drive’s performance topped out at around 35MB/s using HD Tach’s benchmark.

Final Thoughts

Everything except the software left me impressed with the Glory. It was quiet, fast, and had a solid construction. That being said, I just can’t find myself recommending it. As I mentioned earlier in the review, the software only available on Windows, and it was a pain to use. Not only would it refuse backup what I wanted most of the time, it would also crash every time I closed it. Everything about it was counter intuitive to the point of frustration.

The CD that contains the Glory’s software is also bootable in case your computer happens to fail before you create a live CD, but this was not mentioned during the install process or in the manual. Before you reboot your computer, the CD needs to be taken out, or the computer will boot into Enermax’s recovery software if the optical drive precedes your hard drive in your BIOS boot priority.

The buttons on the front of the case were flush with rest of the body so they were often hard to press. This is a minor issue, but if Enermax wanted to encourage their customers to keep their data safe, they could have done a much better job at eliminating the annoyances that came along with their product.

To be fair, Enermax could easily update their software to fix the issues I encountered, but until then, their backup solution is beyond useless. It leaves an ugly blemish that manages to differentiate it from its competition, but not in a good way. The atrocious software has spoiled what could have been a great product.

If Enermax came out with a slimmed down version of the enclosure without the need of software, I would have no problems buying one. If they managed to fix the problems it has, I would even be first in line. But until that happens, stay away. The Glory will only create more problems than it will solve.

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