Hitachi SimpleTOUGH (500GB) external hard drive

A ruggedised Hitachi external hard drive for road warriors

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Hitachi Australia SimpleTOUGH (500GB)
  • Hitachi Australia SimpleTOUGH (500GB)
  • Hitachi Australia SimpleTOUGH (500GB)
  • Hitachi Australia SimpleTOUGH (500GB)

Pros

  • Reasonable cost per formatted gigabyte, embedded USB cable, rugged enclosure

Cons

  • No optimised USB drivers, isn't bundled with a DC power adapter

Bottom Line

The Hitachi SimpleTOUGH external hard drive's rugged enclosure and embedded USB 2.0 cable make it a good option for carting around data, though style-conscious road warriors may want to look elsewhere.

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The Hitachi SimpleTOUGH external hard drive's rugged enclosure and embedded USB cable make it a great companion for road warriors. If you plan to knock your hard drive about during travel, this would be a good choice.

There are no shortage of ruggedised hard drives — LaCie’s Starck Mobile Hard Drive can be run over by a car without worries, and its Rugged All-Terrain Hard Disk will certainly survive knocks and bumps. Transcend’s StoreJet 25M-R even claims to withstand US military drop-test standards.

There isn’t much to differentiate Hitachi’s offering from other rugged drives, though at least it doesn’t look quite as brick-like as the alternatives. Available in red, blue and “carbon fibre” colour schemes, the enclosure is made of a hardened plastic and flanked on both sides by rubber strips. This makes for a slightly curved shape, ensuring the hard drives always lands or rolls onto its front or back for best protection.

The USB 2.0 cable has been embedded directly into the hard drive so it never gets lost. It’s not quite sealed when inserted back into the drive, however, so we doubt it’s fully protected against contact with liquid. Like the Hitachi SimpleDRIVE Mini, the SimpleTOUGH has a DC port for computers that don’t provide enough power to the drive over USB. Because Hitachi doesn’t bundle the adapter with the drive, this inclusion is largely useless.

The Hitachi SimpleTOUGH external hard drive is preformatted with the FAT32 file system, so it’s compatible with both Macs and PCs. If you need to transfer files greater than 4GB in size, Hitachi provides instructions on formatting the hard drive to suit either operating system. Any software on the drive that isn’t backed up will be lost during the format.

Arcsoft TotalMedia Backup

Arcsoft's bundled TotalMedia Backup software is easy to use and has plenty of options.

The Mac/PC compatible Hitachi Local Backup software bundled on the SimpleTOUGH is actually Acronis TotalMedia Backup, which is easy to use and provides comprehensive backup and synchronisation options. Backups can be scheduled or initiated based on folders or file types, with presets for regularly used file formats. Unlike the WD SmartWare software that accompanies Western Digital's My Passport SE, advanced users will be able to add their own file formats to be backed up.

Small File (3GB) Transfer Test Results
Model Price Storage Capacity Read
speed (MBps)
Write
speed (MBps)
Read/write
speed (MBps)
Hitachi SimpleTOUGH $179 500GB 25.4 17.8 10.3
Hitachi SimpleDRIVE Mini $109 320GB 26.1 17.5 11
LaCie Rikiki (USB Boost enabled) $159 500GB 30.9 17.2 11.1
LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive $139 320GB 24.5 17.1 11.1
Astone ISO GEAR 290 $149 500GB 20.5 13.5 9.7
HP SimpleSave Portable $139 320GB 20.4 12.6 8.2
Transcend StoreJet 25M-R $159.95 320GB 23.8 15.3 7.2
Western Digital My Passport SE $379 1TB 26.7 11.7 7.6

Large File (20GB) Transfer Test Results
Model Price Storage Capacity Read
speed (MBps)
Write
speed (MBps)
Read/write
speed (MBps)
Hitachi SimpleTOUGH $179 500GB 28.9 23.9 12.7
Hitachi SimpleDRIVE Mini $109 320GB 28.9 23.8 12.7
LaCie Rikiki (USB Boost enabled) $159 500GB 37.7 26.7 13.3
LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive $139 320GB 27.4 25.9 12.7
Astone ISO GEAR 290 $149 500GB 28.7 25.2 11.5
HP SimpleSave Portable $139 320GB 27.9 25.1 11.6
Transcend StoreJet 25M-R $159.95 320GB 28.5 24.3 11.9
Western Digital My Passport SE $379 1TB 31.4 24.8 11.2

The file transfer results were unsurprisingly identical to the Hitachi SimpleDRIVE Mini's — good but not fantastic. Of course, you can only expect a certain level of performance from a 2.5in hard drive running over a USB 2.0 connection, especially without optimised drivers.

The SimpleTOUGH has a relatively low cost per formatted gigabyte of 38.5c. By contrast the 320GB SimpleDRIVE Mini costs 34.1c while the LaCie Rikiki external hard drive has the lowest cost we have found of just 31.8c per GB.

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