Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive Review


Recently, I have been concerned with the scenario of a potential hard drive failure on my family’s main computer. The memories captured in thousands of digital photos, the hours spent ripping music and the miscellaneous critical files lost due to any numbers of reasons that cause a computer’s hard drive to crash.

These fears have driven me to intensify my search for a good backup external hard drive. So my pursuit brings me to review the 400GB Toshiba Portable External Hard Drive. This is the largest size available in a line of personal storage solutions by Toshiba. The other sizes available are 160GB, 250GB and 320GB.

Hardware Specifications

USB powered
Compact size: 0.65” (H) x 3.2” (W) x 5.0” (D)
Weight: 6 oz.
Plug and play
Works with Windows (XP or Vista) and Mac (OS X 10.3.9 or later) software
Internal shock sensor and ramp loading technology to help protect your drive
3 year limited warranty
Available capacity: 160BG, 250GB, 320GB and 400GB
Buffer size: 8MB
Preloaded with NTI Shadow Backup Software

Package Contents

Toshiba Portable External Drive
USB 2.0 Cable
Quick Install Guide

I am initially impressed by the look and feel of the device. It has a high gloss black finish to it with five curved lines in Electric Blue color on the top. The other available colors are Carbon Grey, Hot Rod Red and Gecko Green. These colored lines add a nice pop to the glossy black surface.

The drive is compact in size at 0.65” (H) x 3.2” (W) x 5.0” (D) and weight, 6 ounces making it extremely portable. It easily fit into several pockets in my messenger bag.

The unit nicely utilizes rounded corners and edges to add to an element of softness to the cool sleek design.

The bottom has two raised rubberized feet that provide support to the drive by basically running the entire width, side-to-side.

The only noticeable feature on the portable hard drive is a mini-USB port located on the top edge. This single USB 2.0 port serves as the power supply and conduit between the drive and the computer. I am surprised and slightly disappointed that Toshiba did not offer a Firewire connection port.

The USB cable that Toshiba includes is way too short. The cable is only 13 inches in length, which is serviceable for use with a laptop but to connect to a desktop tower unit and conceal the drive requires more cable.

I connected the device to my laptop and searched the box for an installation CD to load the associated software. Guess what, there is no need for a CD because Toshiba’s award-winning NTI Shadow software is preloaded on the drive.

It is worth noting that you do not have to use the NTI Shadow software to use the hard drive. You can use a third-party application or do all your transfers manually.

After I connected the external drive to my laptop, I waited for it to be recognized and then I was ready.

The drive appears as “Toshiba EXT” in the PC’s My Computer section. Accessing the drive you find two files, “Shadow for Mac.dmg” and “Shadow for PC.exe”. I initiated PC version by clicking “Shadow for PC.exe”.

Installing the NTI Shadow backup software is simple and takes only a few minutes. Once installed you can use the software to create scheduled backups of folders and/or files.

You make your selections in the job wizard menu page which is broken down into two panels, much like Windows Explorer. The parent tree structure is in the left panel and the files and sub-folder are located on the right.

You have the option of selecting a location from the left pane, which will put a green checkmark in the box, or one from the right, which will put a red checkmark.

You can select where on the external hard drive you want the backup to reside and when you want the backup job to occur. You have three options for scheduling: 1. every time you save on your pc, 2. save backup every specified number of hours, days, weeks and 3. specify day(s) and time to perform the backup.

The NTI Shadow software also gives options regarding version of backups, so you can keep multiple versions or just one.

Upon completing the fields, users are presented with a summary page to review all the options selected.

The software also gives you the flexibility to execute the backup job in an ad hoc manner by simple pressing the “Start Backup” button.

When a backup job is being executed, the progress is displayed by a status bar and percent complete notification.

The backup software has a log feature too that not only displays the date and time each job was executed but also stores the features selected when setting up the job. Helpful when reviewing the log to understand the job’s settings.

In terms of performance, the Toshiba Portable External Hard Drive delivers average read and write speed. I use a SimpleTech external drive as the primary backup for my home PC and I was unable to detect a difference worth noting as a positive or negative in this review.

In conclusion, I really like the sleek and compact design of the Toshiba drive. The preloaded NTI Shadow backup software is extremely easy to use and has many different options for scheduling a backup job.

The only negatives that I found were the lack of a Firewire connection port and the short USB cable. A missing Firewire port is acceptable when compared to other options at this price-point in the market but a 13 inch USB cable just makes no sense to me.

I would easily recommend the 400GB Toshiba Portable External Hard Drive.


Product Information

  • Plug and play
  • NTI Shadow backup software is easy to use and has many helpful options
  • Sleek and compact design
  • Included USB cable is too short
  • No Firewire option
Posted in: Computer Gear, Laptops and Gear
{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Geoff November 25, 2008, 10:29 am

    Ideally, portable drives would include a longer USB cable and the shorter variety.

    I use a laptop, and I have a single 13-inch cable I’ve been holding onto for several years now because I hate having all the extra length of the cables that come with most of them. Longer ones tend to tie themselves in knots or flop all over your workspace when used with a laptop.

  • michael goode November 25, 2008, 11:52 am

    I’m thinking I need to go get one of those. I wonder if it works with the Motorola Krave. I’ve been a fan of the Krave ever since I started working with Motorola. I especially like the full touch screen display and digital qwerty keyboard ( It’s awesome!

  • Ryan Preston November 25, 2008, 12:20 pm

    In terms of cable length, I guess it is a personal preference. I just felt that 13″ was too small. That said I am looking at a Western Digital portable external drive and the cable is about the same length.

  • Larry Bank November 30, 2008, 1:10 pm

    I’ve owned the 320GB model for about 6 months. I am very happy with it so far. I paid $119 at Circuit City and I think that deal can still be found elsewhere. It seems to be picky about the USB cable and won’t work at all with some. For a USB drive, it’s surprisingly fast and quiet. Overall I think it’s an excellent piece of hardware and is always in my laptop bag.


  • nick d December 18, 2008, 10:19 am

    i have the 320 gb (the grey lines) and it is great. to be honest, the short cable comes in handy with the laptop. i have a toshiba 17″ fusion finish, and when im downloading, i download movies, music, etc directly to the drive, and it sits perfectly on the palm rest next to the mouse pad without really getting in the way. longer cables DO tend to get in the way, but if you’re buying it for a desktop, you would probably go with a drive with a longer cable and with at least 500gb to 1tb anyway. im a tech for circuit city, and unlike western digitals, simple techs, maxtor etc, these toshibas HAVE identified on every computer used on. recently, ive done backups on WD’s simpletech’s etc, and when plugged into another pc, they just WONT

  • nick d December 18, 2008, 10:23 am

    i own the 320 gb (grey stripes) and its great. the short cable comes in handy on my toshiba 17″ fusion finish laptop, i put it on the palmrest to the right of the touchpad, and it fits perfect. im a tech for ccity, and unlike WD, simpletech, maxtor, etc, i bought the toshiba because it DOES identify on EVERY computer its plugged into. ive recently done backups with WD and simpletech in particular, and when you backup docs on these two, then plug them into another pc, they just WONT identify. they just WONT…ive seen it happen numerous times. but if you plug it back into the original computer it was backed up from, its fine.

  • Bernard F June 4, 2009, 6:31 pm

    I just got this exact drive for 90$ with shipping and everything from so far its nice .. just wanted to update people looking at this article.. >> here >

  • Dale May 27, 2010, 4:20 am


    I have a problem with my Toshiba 320 gig, Vista will recognize it for a few minutes and than it says USB Devise not recognized and when i plug into my other 2 USB Ports it just says USB Devise not recognized, i can plug my other 500 HDD in with no problems

    Hope u can help


  • phyllis July 1, 2010, 11:21 am

    I have lost my usb cabel for my toshiab back up drive, any idea where I can get a new one.


    • Julie July 1, 2010, 11:31 am

      @phyllis there’s nothing special about that USB cable. Don’t you have other USB devices with a mini USB connector at one end? I have drawers full of these cables 😉 You can buy them at your local Best Buy or probably even Walmart.

  • triniboy March 1, 2011, 8:47 am

    My cable has a short and I can’t access my data, does anyone know where to purchase online the ORIGINAL cable for this device? I have purchased/ used other 2.0 USB cables that don’t seem to work. Or, would the Ycable definitely work with this model?


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