By Bill Machrone  |  Posted 2004-05-07 Print this article Print

Iomega Rev 35

You could call the Iomega Rev 35 a Zip drive for the 21st century, but youd be doing it an injustice. While the 100MB Zip drive became essential in art departments for storing and moving large graphics files, the Rev 35 has a different mission. The Rev 35 holds 35GB of data on a removable 2.5-inch drive and is precisely the kind of backup medium you need for todays machines.
First and foremost, the Rev 35 employs removable hard disk technology, which confers the triple benefits of speed, random access, and off-site storage. Second, it offers a practical storage capacity for backing up todays machines. Third, its 2.5-inch disk format means that the cartridge is smaller than a floppy disk and the drive is smaller than a paperback book. It connects via USB 2.0, so it can be moved from machine to machine easily. Iomega also makes a bay-mounted ATAPI-connected version, the same size as a standard floppy drive. The read-write heads are contained in the cartridge for reliability and drive-to-drive compatibility.
Before we even put the drive through formal tests, we had an urgent real-life test for it. A college students laptop was failing to boot, and campus tech support insisted that the only cure was to re-image the hard disk, which would have wiped out all of the data (20GB of useful papers, articles, and the requisite music and movies). We installed another copy of Windows XP in a new drive partition, loaded the Rev 35 driver, backed everything up, and let tech support have at it. Subsequent file restoration was uneventful. Software and hardware installation were simple, as they should be. We used two test data sets to test performance. The first had 512 files totaling 1.75GB, spread over 66 folders ranging in size from several hundred kilobytes to several megabytes. The second had 22,734 files totaling 2.7GB, over 2,379 folders. Using Windows to copy the files, we achieved a transfer rate of 12.15 megabytes per second (MBps) for the first set (large files stored in few directories) and 2.2 MBps for the second (smaller files in many directories). This is very good performance: The fastest USB tape drives barely equal the slower speed and cant touch our higher result, and of course the Rev 35 has the advantage of random access on retrieval. Hard discs are faster, of course, but the Rev performs admirably: The best internal 7,200-rpm hard discs, with 8MB buffers, perform around 40 MBps on copying files, and the Maxtor One Touch external drive tested around 2GBps. The Iomega Rev 35 ships with a version of Symantec Ghost in addition to Iomega Automatic Backup Pro, so you can easily create a Rev disk (or even a floppy) that will reboot your system and then perform a full restore from a Rev drive. The backup software also performs compression, which can boost capacity up to 90GB, depending on the data. The Rev format is new (although its been selling in Europe for several months) and has some very interesting possibilities. Iomega predicts higher-density versions in the future, and the price of the cartridges (currently $60 each) will likely come down. The company also says that autoloader and multispindle drives are under development, which will be good news for servers with highly dynamic content. We foresee new applications such as video-production backup, in addition to faster, more flexible backup for small offices and ever-growing home machines. All in all, we think Iomegas got a winner on its hands.

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Bill Machrone is vice president of technology at Ziff Davis Publishing and editorial director of the Interactive Media and Development Group. He joined Ziff Davis in May 1983 as technical editor of PC Magazine, became editor-in-chief in September of that year, and held that position for the next eight years, while adding the titles of publisher and publishing director. During his tenure, Machrone created the tough, labs-based comparison reviews that propelled PC Magazine to the forefront of the industry and made it the seventh-largest magazine in the United States. He pioneered numerous other innovations that have become standards in computer journalism, such as Service and Reliability Surveys, free utility software, benchmark tests, Suitability to Task ratings, and price/performance charts. Machrone also founded PC Magazine Labs and created the online service PC MagNet, which later expanded into ZDNet. In 1991, when Machrone was appointed vice president of technology, he founded ZD Labs in Foster City, California. He also worked on the launch team for Corporate Computing magazine, was the founding editor of Yahoo! Internet Life, and is working on several other development projects in conventional publishing and electronic media. Machrone has been a columnist for PC Magazine since 1983 and became a columnist for PC Week in 1993.

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