Backup drive keeps files safe, sound
- By John McCormick
- Apr 27, 1998
Under Microsoft Windows 95, the drive can even read old tapes in QIC-3020, QIC-3010,
QIC-80, TR-3, TR-1 and QIC-3095 formats. The stated backup rate is 60 megabytes/sec for
the internal drive and 40 megabytes/sec for the external drive, which fits a parallel
Although the documentation indicated the unit would run under MS-DOS, my test failed
for lack of memory on a 66-MHz Compaq Computer Corp. Deskpro XL 566 that had 16M RAM and
an almost-full 500M hard drive.
The software did install easily under Windows 3.1. But the documentation covered only
Win95, so operation was a bit confusing at first. The useful Auto Backup utility had only
two installation options: install Auto Backup, or view a help file and then install Auto
I didn't want the automatic daily backups, but that's a minor complaint if you have
plenty of disk space and the software doesn't eventually cause you conflicts.
Hardware installation was a snap. I connected the power supply and plugged the
parallel-port cable into the drive and the PC. A printer-out port kept the tape drive
connected at all times.
The whole thing, from opening the box to starting backup of the hard drive, took about
20 minutes counting the failed MS-DOS installation and a quick check of the supplied
To copy the contents of the c: drive to the tape, I dragged the c: icon to the tape
icon and dropped it. Everything was automated after that.
The software displayed a lot of information during backup, apparently to calm nervous
users. There was no way to avoid this process except by canceling the whole backup.
One corner of the screen showed the directory being processed and gave a running
commentary such as "building volume directory," "selecting tape" and
Other dialog boxes displayed a running tally of the number and size of files already
processed and those waiting to be processed. Graphs and digital readouts revealed the
amount of tape used, total time elapsed and the estimated time to completion.
As far as I could gauge, the backup to tape took 30 minutes, 11 seconds, but then the
software began checking the hard drive's files against the backup.
That took a bit longer than the write process and turned up a single error.
My entire backup of 447.2M lasted one hour, 29 minutes and 11 seconds. Uncompressed
files occupied only 17 percent of the total tape. Processing started out at 6
megabytes/sec and rose to 15 megabytes/sec near the end.
The single error message, concerning inability to reset an archive flag on a file, was
detailed but slightly ambiguous; the actual file had been backed up correctly. The error
reporting was very good.
Because many users want tapes to restore single files, I ran a test on a 5K file.
Complete system restoration including software configuration took about 10 minutes
because I had no documentation for the Windows 3.1 version.
The search process, however, was simple and easy to remember.
Given experience, it took me less than two minutes to restore one file.
There were lots of options for specific file or directory backup/restore tasks, and for
Many users will be satisfied with an occasional complete backup plus daily backups of
changed files. The software can schedule these backups for you.
You restore single files or entire directories by simply dragging and dropping them
from the tape library window to the target drive.
The nicest touch of all is a disaster-recovery utility. If your system ever fails or
you want to upgrade the drive, a tape backup will restore your software and files--but
only after you install an operating system and a utility to read the tape.
The Colorado utility can create a boot diskette with just enough information on it to
start complete restoration from your backup tape.
This diskette should save an hour minimum if you ever have to start over from scratch
or configure a brand-new system. If you don't have all the system software handy, it could
save many, many hours.
Hewlett-Packard claims the external drive can back up a fast Pentium system with 2G
drive in an hour, and the internal drive can back up a 3G drive in the same time.
Native capacity of the tapes is 2.5G; actual compression ratios will depend on your
The Colorado drive weighs only 2 pounds and would be no hardship to transport to
different PCs to back up a small workgroup.
John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with
computers since the early 1960s.