Monday, November 28, 2016

Time Machine: PNY versus Lexar

Last Christmas and again this Christmas, I have packaged family related materials (video and pictures) onto a memory stick for the purpose of gift giving.  As such, I try to stick with low cost memory sticks as a worst-case scenario would be that even if one was defective, the content could easily be recovered from the original source.  While I haven’t encountered performance issues for this simple task, I have developed some preferences. Among them, I prefer memory sticks that are one piece, such as the type that retract.  I dislike those with a removable cover as I find I can easily misplace it and then waste time searching for it.

Most recently I related that I used the Time Machine application on my used MacBook Pro to create a backup of Yosemite prior to upgrading the machine with an SSD and to the El Capitan operating system.  That backup was created without issue to a PNY memory stick and I thought no more of it until I went to do a second backup from the updated El Capitan system.  This update consumed more space than the Yosemite update and not finding a blank memory stick handy, I made a quick trip to Office Max and purchased a 64gb Lexar memory stick for around $15.  I then proceeded with the usual routine, formatting the USB stick, identifying the Lexar stick as the location to create the back up in Time Machine.  The backup seemed to start ok and I allowed an overnight, but no success – it seemed to hang. Ultimately, I stopped the process and did a do over – reformatting the USB and re-identifying the location in Time Machine.  Once again, it appeared to have started ok, but after letting it ran for about 2 days the back up again appeared to have stalled with the message that it was “calculating time left”.

My MacBook Pro is my new tech toy and I was eager to play.  Since I had a successful Yosemite backup I figured that if worse came to worse I had a starting point and gave up on creating a El Capitan backup on the Lexar USB.  I moved on to purchase and install a copy of Microsoft Office through my work’s “Home Use” program (a great perk – only $9.95 for Office).  Thus, the size of my new backup continued to grow.  As black Friday approached, I spotted a 64gb PNY memory stick on sale from Best Buy for only $9.95…plus free shipping.  I went for it, knowing that 64gb would comfortably cover any immediate need as I only have a 60gb SSD installed in my MacBook Pro.  Upon receipt of the PNY, I applied the same drill, formatting the USB memory stick and identifying the new location in Time Machine. I started this process around 3pm or so and it became clear that the backup was not going to finish by bedtime.  (I’m not a night hawk).  Upon checking the machine in the morning, I was elated to see that it completed successfully.

Long story short, not all memory sticks are created equal.

As reflected above, the form factor of these memory sticks are substantially different.  The PNY to the left uses a retractable type of design which I like.  The Lexar uses a switchblade type design.  While this design keeps the memory stick in one piece which I like, it also makes it somewhat awkward when it sticks out of your laptop.  The Lexar also has a light which blinks (and likely communicates some sort of message)... I didn't like the bright blinking light.  I have no idea what it may be communicating so it contributed nothing to me and I found it annoying.

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