The Lacie d2 Quadra offers something we’ve yet to see on an external backup drive – four different interfaces, including USB 2.0, FireWire in both 400 and 800 flavors, and eSata. Even better, Lacie provides cables for all these interfaces as well. It also offers several backup options, as well as the option to format a portion of the drive as a FAT32 volume to work with files from Mac OS and Linux. Though it’s a bit expensive considering the price of 500GB hard drives, the d2 is a very comprehensive backup solution with a lot of compelling features.
Features and Design
Lacie’s is know for its wild and crazy external drive designs, but the d2 Quadra is a bit more pedestrian-looking than some of the company’s crazier designs such as the Lego Brick and Golden disk which is fine with us. Though the d2 works with both Macs and PCs it certainly looks more at home next to a Mac tower than it does next to a PC due to the similarities in appearance.
This model is a re-design of the previous model, which had smooth edges. Lacie has added ridges to the exterior to improve the enclosure’s cooling performance. The d2 now looks similar to a heatsink, and Lacie claims this new design adds 60 percent more surface area to aid in cooling.
The Lacie d2 Quadra – now with ridges!
Unlike most external backup drives that offer one, two or three ways to connect the drive to your PC, the d2 offers four interfaces, including eSATA, FireWire 400 and 800 and USB 2.0. It also provides all the necessary cables as well. This stands in contrast to the WD My Book we reviewed recently, which included an eSATA port on the drive but no cable in the box.
The d2 Quadra gets its name from its amazing quadruple interface selection.
The d2 includes three software utilities that comprise its backup solution. The first is simply a utility that dictates what happens when you press the giant blue button on the front of the drive. You can have it launch your backup routine, open a program, or you can disable it.
The first of two backup programs is a Lacie utility that is simple and straightforward. You tell the software what files to back up and where to back them up to, and that’s it. You have to launch the backup manually though, as there is no scheduling feature.
Finally, Lacie includes EMC Retrospect Express HD for scheduled backups. You can choose to make the backups be straight copies of the files, or to have them be an “image” type of file that requires Retrospect to restore the files. Whenever Retrospect makes a backup it puts the files in a new folder and numbers them, so you can restore files from specific days if you need to do so.
Use and Testing
Like most backup drives these days, all that is in the box is the drive, cables and the power brick. There’s no software disc because it’s all on the drive. We plugged the drive in and decided to use the FireWire cable since we were fresh out of USB ports. We wanted to try out eSATA, truth be told, but our motherboard lacks eSATA support.
We first plugged the drive in using the supplied FireWire cable and heard the familiar “cha-ching” sound of new hardware being detected, but then Windows asked us to insert the driver disc for our new hardware. We didn’t have a disc, so we just ignored the error.
During installation of the shortcut button, it asked us for drivers but we had none.
Next, a window opened and told us we needed to format the drive before we could use it. It gave us the option of formatting the whole drive as NTFS to work with Windows PCs, or to dedicate a small chunk as an “exchange” drive that would be formatted as FAT32 and thus compatible with Macs and Linux. This is a very cool feature, and one we have not seen offered by other drive manufacturers. We chose to make a small Exchange partition, and were then prompted to determine the partition’s size by moving a small slider. The minimum size allowed was 1GB and the maximum was 32GB.
You can create a FAT32 partition to play nice with Macs and penguins, which is handy.
Once our drive was formatted, we opened it up and examined the included software. There were three utilities listed in the “software” folder, so we installed them one-by-one. The first was the LaCie 1-Click Backup, which is a very simple and straightforward backup utility. It just asks you what you want to backup and where it’s supposed to go. It’s called “1-click” because you have to manually trigger it either by clicking the desktop icon or by pressing CTRL-S from the desktop (get it?). We like this utility as it’s very easy to both use and configure.
Next we installed the “LaCie shortcut button,” or maybe we should say we tried to install it. Once the software installed we got a message asking us for a driver CD.
We closed the error box and continued installing the button, but once installed it told us there were no drives present. We looked and the drive was present and accessible, so we weren’t sure what its problem was (more on this later).
Next, we installed Retrospect. As we stated before, the reason it’s called Retrospect is it allows you to retrieve files from saved checkpoints as if you were using Windows System Restore. For example, you could restore the copy of the file you have saved from last week, or last month, etc. You can either save the files themselves, or save an “image” of the files, which requires Retrospect to retrieve them. Overall we had no issues with this program at all, and our only complaint is that if you are configuring your backup routine and set it to backup by file type, the pre-selected file types do not include mail files. There’s an option to save “all other files not included in the categories above,” but since the program lists music, movies, pictures and such it would be helpful to include mail in that list. We are aware of the varying file locations for “mail,” but perhaps a simple question box of what OS you are using and what program you use for mail could accomplish this goal.
Finally, we returned to the elusive shortcut button. We finally got it working by going to the Device Manager and telling Vista to download a driver for it. According to Lacie, this should only happen in XP but not in Vista, and the company is looking into resolving this issue for Vista users.
Once we had the button working we had the option of customizing the button to launch a program of our choice, disable it, or set it to run our pre-selected Retrospect backup routine.
Throughout testing the drive ran cool and was dead silent. The big blue button on the face is a little too bright for our tastes though, and it’d be nice to have the option to turn it off.
One final note: the d2 drives can be stacked in an optional cage that costs around $50 USD. We think this is pretty cool, and seems like a better idea than just stacking multiple drives on top of one another.
If you foresee multiple Lacie drives in your future, you can invest in this rack to keep things tidy.
The d2 Quadra is certainly a full-featured backup drive. It’s the only backup drive we’ve tested that offers four interfaces, which ensures maximum compatibility as well as maximum performance due to its eSATA ports. We also like that there are several backup options included, rather than just a single program like we see with most backup drives; and it works on Macs too. Our only complaints are that the button is a little too bright, we experienced a weird driver issue and that’s there’s no simple way to save mail files. It’s also a bit pricey, which isn’t too surprising given its four interfaces.
• Four interfaces
• Several backup options
• Works with PCs, Macs and Time Machine
• Doesn’t save mail by default
• Driver issue (with our test unit)