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Tandberg's tapeless tape drive

Another way to back up to hard disk

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Tandberg Data is the latest storage vendor to bring out a removable-disk backup product. It says the RDX QuikStor combines the portability and simplicity of tape - its cartridges are tape-sized and plug in just as easily - with the speed of hard disk.

The idea is that you use it like a tape drive, with the same backup software, but inside the cartridge is really a 2.5-inch hard disk. Tandberg says it can back up 80GB of data in under an hour, and access it again in milliseconds. Initially, it is offering 40GB, 80GB, and 160GB cartridges, with a drive and a 40GB cartridge costing £160. Extra cartridges will cost from £65.

Although Oslo-based Tandberg pitches itself as the only European data storage manufacturer, RDX QuikStor is actually American technology - it comes from a licencing agreement with Colorado-based ProStor.

Several other companies are also touting cartridged hard disks as the modern alternative to tapes, including Iomega and Imation. Unlike Iomega's REV - which has just the drive mechanics in the cartridge, not the electronics - but like the Imation Ulysses technology, the RDX QuikStor is a complete hard disk in a plug-in enclosure.

So why not simply use a USB external drive, such as those offered by Maxtor/Seagate or Western Digital, and back-up to that?

Tandberg product manager Kjell Aasene said it's to do with the degree of ruggedness. The reinforced cartridge includes a shock-proof mounting, and the drive enclosure adds an extra level of error correction via ProStor's Adaptive Archive technology.

Aasene added that because the system is hard disk-based, the same "drive" will be able to accept higher capacity cartridges in the future, something that's impossible with tape drives and cartridges.

He said users can either treat the unit as an extra hard disk and drag files to it, or use it as a backup device via either the copy of Symantec Backup Exec QS that comes with it, or any other software that supports backing up to disk.

QuikStor is available in 3.5 inch and 5.25 inch versions, connecting to the host server either internally via SATA or externally over USB. ®

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