GCN Lab Review | Tape drives, meet disks

Quantum takes high-capacity hard drives and turns them into removable media

PERFORMANCE: A

EASE OF USE: B

FEATURES: B

VALUE: B+

PRICE: Starts at $299 (includes dock, one 40GB cartridge and backup software)


REVIEWER'S COMMENTS:

The GoVault combines the benefits of a hard drive and a tape drive into one device.


CONTACT:
Quantum Corp.

San Jose, Calif.

(800) 677-6268

www.quantum.com

It seems network administrators and computer users alike are constantly in need of more storage. And while most users are encouraged to save to the network in order to take advantage of the LAN's backup system, it is not always feasible
or efficient to do so, much as administrators may wish otherwise.


A PC's hard drive is, of course, not a good
solution for backup storage. Installing another
drive, either connected to the user's
computer or attached to the network, can
be an expensive solution, as most drives
are not rugged enough to be considered
portable. And a tape drive, while relatively
cheap and spacious, can prove
difficult and inefficient when
it comes time to recover a file.


The new GoVault from
Quantum Corp. provides the
cost efficiency and durability
of tape with the instant accessibility
of a hard drive.


The drive unit fits into any
5.25-inch (and, with slight
modification, 3.5-inch) drive
bay.


It is a Serial ATA device, so
you either need a free SATA
port or a peripheral card.
Many systems have their
extra SATA ports turned off
in the BIOS, so you'll need to
make certain that the port
you're going to use is turned on by entering
the BIOS per your PC's setup instructions.
Once the GoVault is connected and
the driver installed, it should appear as a
drive in your drive list.


The actual drives are contained within
small cartridges, which are only 4.4 by 3.4
by 1.0 inches and weigh 5.6 ounces. The
cartridges contain standard 40GB, 80GB
or 120GB mobile hard drives (the type
used in notebook computers), which
makes the GoVault significantly higher in
capacity than any other removable media.


The product specs say GoVault cartridges
can survive a drop of slightly more
than three feet onto a hard surface and
still work fine. While we tested and
passed the cartridge to this specification,
we also wanted to try
some ruggedness obstacles
that were more
likely to come up in a
typical work environment.


We dropped the cartridge from
a five-foot-high shelf, let it bounce
off a desk and then hit the floor
below, after which it ran fine. We
also dropped it from the highest
storage shelf in the lab (about six
feet) onto the uncarpeted floor. It
passed this test, too; when we reinserted
it into the drive, we had
no problem accessing files. It appears
the cartridges can take quite a bit of
punishment and still perform.


Because the drive is a SATA
device, its file transfer rates
are about as fast as any other
hard drive with that interface.


When transferring files to
and from the GoVault within
the Windows Explorer, we
saw transfer rates averaging
79 Mbps.


The drive comes with
Yosemite Backup Basic software,
which saw the same
kinds of transfer rates.


We even installed several
programs and ran them
straight from a GoVault cartridge
with no perceivable lag
compared to running the same
applications from our test system's hard
drive.


Instant access

But the true beauty of the GoVault is that,
through the backup software, you can access
any of the files on a cartridge in any
order you choose'almost instantly. This
is miles better than trying to retrieve
something from a linear-access tape,
which can sometimes take hours.


Files can, of course, be shared from one
computer to another, but each system
must have its own dock for it to be a truly
portable solution.


The cartridges have password protection
capability built in. You can set the
password for a cartridge simply by rightclicking
the drive in the drive list and typing
in the new password.


While this is a great feature, it is also
dangerous. For maximum security, there
is no password recovery feature, so if you
forget the password you set for a cartridge,
the only recourse is to reformat the
cartridge with a process Quantum calls
Security Erase.


If you can remember your password,
though, you can change it or even turn
off password protection once you're
authenticated.


The GoVault system starts at $299
for the dock, a 40GB cartridge and
backup software. This may be signifi-
cantly more than a comparable external
hard drive.


However, extra cartridges are $120 for
40GB, $189 for 80GB and $319 for
120GB, so the more you get the more reasonable
the price becomes.


This solution would be ideal for smaller
agencies whose personnel are widely distributed,
or any department that would
like to increase their available backup or
hard drive space.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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