The compact Toshiba Canvio Connect offers a lot more than just its internal storage space. The drive includes backup software for Windows, NTFS drivers that enable Macs to read and write to the Windows file system, and Pogoplug PC, software that turns the drive's host computer into a personal cloud storage server.
Though it's not the fastest drive, the Canvio Connect performed decently in my testing, both with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 -- with the exception that the drive didn't work with some USB 2.0 ports I tried it out with.
If you don't already have a Pogoplug subscription and want to use the service, the Toshiba Canvio Connect is an exciting portable drive to buy, especially if your computer supports USB 3.0. Otherwise, at the suggested prices of $99, $110, $130, $170, and $190 for 500GB, 750GB, 1TB, 1.5TB, and 2TB capacities, respectively, the drive is significantly more expensive than its peers; you should probably wait for its price to come down. For alternatives, check out this list of excellent portable drives.
Design and setup
The Canvio Connect is very compact, about the same size as the WD My Passport Edge, with a shiny plastic chassis that's red on the top and bottom and black on the sides. The drive is also very light -- just 5.3 ounces -- and feels very sturdy in the hand. On one side, it has a Micro-USB 3.0 port, which works with the included standard USB 3.0 cable. This is the only cable you'll need to use the drive since it's bus-powered, meaning it's powered by the USB port to which it's connected.
In my trial, the drive worked with all USB 3.0 ports with no problems. With USB 2.0 ports, however, it was hit-and-miss. A few of the ports I tried it with didn't seem to provide enough juice to power the drive, especially those on the front of a desktop PC. Most, if not all, other portable hard drives I've reviewed had no problems with these front ports.
The Canvio Connect comes preformatted in NTFS, so if you're using it with a Windows computer, all you have to do is plug it in. On a Mac, you'll need to install Tuxera NTFS for Mac, included on the drive itself, before you can write to the drive. After that, you can also use the drive to back up your Mac using Time Machine.
For Windows, the Canvio Connect includes NTI Backup Now EZ, an easy-to-use automated backup program that worked very well in my testing.
The "Connect" part of the drive's name derives from the fact that it comes with Pogoplug PC, software that costs $30 if you buy it yourself. Pogoplug PC turns the drive's host computer into a personal cloud server -- as long as the machine is running and connected to the Internet. Now you can access your data, stored on the Canvio itself or on your computer's internal drive, remotely via mobile app. To learn more about how Pogoplug's system works, check out our review of the Pogoplus Series 4 adapter.