Memory maker SanDisk is showing off flash-based continuous backup device for laptop users at Cebit.

The SanDisk FlashBack Adapter is intended to simplify data backup for laptop users without the need to regularly connect to an external backup drive. It's an SD flash memory card that fits into the ExpressCard slot of a laptop and which automatically and continuously backs up and encrypts data.

Users purchase an SD or SDHC memory card with the capacity they need, and then slide the card with the adaptor into their laptop's ExpressCard slot. The adaptor comes with Windows-based software which allows the user to pre-select backup sources by individual files, folders and/or file types.

Once set up, the device automatically and continuously backs up and encrypts the user's data from the computer's hard drive to the memory card. A backup is triggered as soon as a change is detected to a designated file or folder, or when a file is added or deleted. This removes the need to schedule backups, and allows the device to operate in the background without the need for further user intervention.

A screen indicator displays the amount of available storage, along with a taskbar icon that displays the ongoing backup status.

The software also allows data to be restored. The user simply selects the encrypted files on the memory card and indicates the restore destination. Alternatively, data can also be restored on any PC using Windows 2000, XP, or Vista that has an SD memory card reader. The SanDisk FlashBack Adapter isn't needed for this process.

"This is a 'set it and forget it' solution for every laptop user with an ExpressCard slot who wants to be protected from unintended data loss," said Matthijs Hutten, SanDisk's senior product marketing manager for accessories.

While flash memory is non-volatile, which means it can store data without a constant supply of electricity and protect that data in the event of a battery failure or unintended shutdown, it's somewhat unusual to see SD cards used for backup purposes as they have been known to occasionally suffer corruption and/or data loss. The perception is they offer a less reliable backup option than external hard-disk drives (HDDs) for example.

But to guard against this, and possible laptop theft, the SanDisk FlashBack Adapter also gives users an option to back up their content online. This service is provided by BeInSync for a nominal fee and in addition to local storage on an SD or SDHC memory card.

The SanDisk FlashBack Adapter includes a two-year warranty, a mini-CD containing the backup software and a user's guide. The product will start shipping worldwide in the second quarter, and carries a suggested retail price of $29 (£15).

The memory card is sold separately.


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