The Rebit Reviewed - Backup & Recovery System for Dummies

Written by Martin Regtien on . Posted in Storage

RebitIt was with great anticipation that the Rebit finally landed on my desk.
First question you might ask: what is a Rebit?  It has nothing to do with a rabbit of course -- the company logo features a frog so that might give a clue.  It's not that croaking sound you might hear from the unit when it is doing its job but maybe it is related to the fact that this unit shines when your computer has croaked it...  Anyway, let's hop to it and tell you what this is all about!

A Rebit allows you to back up your system without going through the hassles of backing up.  Clear?
Didn't think so.  What would you think of the claim that a Rebit totally eliminates backing up?  And still protects your system in a continuous, transparent and complete way -- fully automatic?
Hard to believe, so let's check it out.

We've been promised easy solutions to backing up for years now because no one wants to do a backup.  And we've all been caught short even if we do backups religiously.  I do it once a month for all my personal systems but the DigitalReviews Network computers are backed up continuously.  But what a hassle it is when you are nearly due for another backup and your computer crashes!  All your work since the last time you backed up is lost!  We've all gone through that frustration and ideally, backing up should be done continually which is only possible in a RAID configuration with multiple drives.

Well, the Rebit offers a different solution: just plug the unit in to a USB Port and mains power, flick the switch and follow the prompts and the Rebit goes to work.
Easy, no?
I plugged it all in, saw the green LED come on on the unit, Windows installed the drivers and I waited...
There was no indication the Rebit was doing anything.  Did I miss anything?  Mucked up the sequence of plugging in?  I decided to start from scratch again and this time I got a proper window to click OK to.

Immediately the Rebit started backing up drive C of my notebook.  This is a process that can easily take up several hours.  This computer has over 100,000 files on it.
So everything was going to plan but when it asked for a license activation key it had me stumped.  It was not on the recovery CD, nor on any piece of paper or the box or the unit.  At least not where I could easily find it.  I checked the very helpful Rebit website FAQs.  No joy either.
I even had to resort to asking the Rebit folks for a clue...
Embarrassing but was it my bad eyesight or just the way that Quick Start leaflet folds so that you only see the 1-2-3 steps but not the back?
Normally, I would expect a license key on the CD or box for the non-sleuths among us...
Anyhow, after this minor hiccup we proceeded properly.

It is a brilliant to see that when you hover your mouse over a file you now have two additional properties: how many Rebit backups there are of this file and when the last backup was made.




The proof is always in the recovery pudding.  A full systems recovery needs the supplied recovery disk and we have not had the misfortune or been game enough to try out a full systems recovery.  We will do this in the very near future when we will do a complete conversion to SSD on this notebook. We'll keep you posted on this one.
Individual files that have been deleted can easily be restored by opening up the "My Rebit" Windows Explorer window from which you can drag and drop it in the appropriate folder. 


There are currently two units available in different disk sizes: a 500 GB one and a 320GB which is the one that we are using.  
Obviously, you will need to have a capacity that is at least as great as the machine you are trying to protect.  And I would always recommend going for the largest possible size given that there is very little price difference.  The beauty of using a Rebit system is that it will never get full.  Older backups will automatically be deleted.  If your backup disk is sufficiently large you will be able to have a longer history of backups and older versions.
Keep in mind that that every Rebit system is mated to a particular PC so you cannot have multiple PCs backed onto one system (with the exception noted below).
If you go away on a trip and take your laptop with you the Rebit will catch up when you plug it back in again.  Fortunately, there is not a big drain on System Resources as the Rebit will always work in the background or when the CPU is not being used for a while for other tasks.


Other Solutions

In a perfect world, hard drives and computers don't crash. Count on it: they will. Even if you're not using a computer for a living your data is always precious to you and certainly your time in restoring things to the status quo before the crash is equally valuable. So, backups are critical. Continuous backups are just as essential. And the ease of backing up is also paramount.
No one solution is the ultimate guarantee in case of a disaster. Not even Rebit.
What else can we do to ensure successful recoveries?
I always have multiple backups -- some in the office, some in the house, some off-site in case of fire or similar disasters.
This applies to whatever solution you choose. You can have the most critical documents and email on a USB stick (encrypted if you like) so that you can take it with you in case your notebook gets stolen, for instance.

What about RAID solutions?

The time of backing up everything to floppy disks is way past. Even CDs or DVD don't cut it anymore with our digital imaging and movie files on our computers. BluRay anyone? Still not sufficient and expensive.
Enter the RAID options: multiple hard disk drives, mirroring your files. It's a great option but again, it might take some technical expertise to set it up and it still is no all-in-one solution.
What's the difference with Rebit?
I asked David Schwaab from Rebit.

This is how he sees things:

Concerning a comparison with the RAID options on the market, this is fairly straight forward for us:
1) Rebit is the complete backup and recovery solution for those PC users who do not want to have to do anything to get continuous backup protection, and easy file and entire PC recovery – a non-intrusive and non-technical solution.
Conversely, we understand RAID backup options as fairly technical for PC users – we are not aware of any that a non-technical user could implement and use themselves, so we see them as solutions for an entirely different PC market segment.
2) Having said that, we understand these RAID options to be implementations of disk mirroring to combat disk failures.  At the core, mirroring is not backup.  Any problems written to the first disk are quickly written to the second disk.  So, while a hard disk failure is covered by mirroring, there are numerous additional benefits to backup.  These benefits of backup include the ill effects of file corruption, virus attacks, Windows configuration problems, accidental file deletions and overwrites (with Rebit, backed up file versions), problematic driver updates, etc.  In addition, Rebit provides for full PC disk(s) recovery to a point-in-time in the case of disk(s) failure(s).

I agree to a large extent with David. There are additional benefits to using Rebit, rather than RAID1.
The ability to go back in time to previously deleted files is one of them.
The ease of taking the Rebit drive with you or off site for additional protection is another.

Coming Soon

The only points of improvement that I can see are being implemented as we speak: these are support for 64bit operating systems and support for multiple PCs. In the coming weeks we hope to get a CD with the software to tackle the backups of all your computers.
The Rebit CD products allow a person to install the Rebit software onto a hard drive (volume) of their choice (internal or external, excluding the system spindle), to turn it into their Rebit backup appliance.
So it allows you to turn an external drive into a Rebit that you can plug into multiple PCs to get backups for them, just like the single-PC Rebit, and to recover files and to directly recover files to any other PC. Both the single-PC and multi-PCs versions also allows you to recover files to another, “guest” PC, to which you only want to recover files, with no other footprint left on the guest PC.


It's very comforting to see the little frog symbol in the background continuously saving my work.
For not much more than the price of a decent hard drive you've got great insurance against lost work and lost time. It does what it needs to do extremely easy and well. Check it out and buy one for your parents (don't worry: that’s one appliance you don't have to install for them!)
Pricing for this 320GB model is just a hair under USD190. The 500GB unit is about $220 or even cheaper in a street near you...

And for the really budget conscious: yes, there's a 16GB model too for just 170 bucks. Or try their software-only solution if you have some spare drives...

Our verdict on the Rebit solution? Highly recommended!



Features and Benefits

Rebit has been on the market for a while now with their products, improving the "backupability" with every new model.
Here's a summary of the features you may have encountered before:

  • Just plug it in and forget it for continuous, automatic, complete PC backup protection
  • Automatic & Complete Backup & Recovery
  • Just plug it in
  • Backs up everything – OS, Applications, Data, Digital Content
  • No install, setup, configuration, schedules, buttons
  • Integrated with Windows for intuitive use and recovery
  • Windows Explorer for drag-and-drop recovery, Windows Infotips
  • Continuous Data Protection
  • Bare Metal Recovery
  • NeverFull™ for reliable, continuous backup
  • Rebit behaves as a backup appliance, backing up and providing recovery to a single PC with a single disk drive.  (no data portability to other computers).

The model we just reviewed added the following features and benefits:

  • Data Portability (data migration to other computers)
  • Multi-partition disk CDP
  • Multi-disk per PC CDP
  • Multi-disk enhanced NeverFullTM
  • File de-duplication (sub-file level)
  • Flexible Rebit/User storage allocation
  • (permits additional user storage partition(s) on the Rebit appliance (e.g., an “E:” drive))
  • XP and Vista Support
  • Bare Metal Recovery enhancements
  • Rebit interleaving for archive and off-site rotation of Rebit units (just plug in another one)
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