Olixir Mobile DataVault FastRestore SE

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2004-04-01 Print this article Print

If you need high-speed, portable backup for a departmental or small-business server, then the Mobile DataVault FastRestore SE is worth a close look.

When disaster strikes, its important to get up and running as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, tape backup is expensive and slow, so a few alternative solutions are emerging for small-business- and departmental-backup needs. One interesting solution is the Olixir Mobile DataVault FastRestore SE Backup and Disaster Recovery System, which uses a set of removable hard drive cartridges rather than tape cartridges. You can use an individual cartridge alone with special cables, but an external bay adds convenience. The drive cartridges are shock-mounted and even have an indicator to show if the drives have been abused. Each houses a 180GB or 250GB 7,200-rpm ATA hard drive. You simply insert a cartridge into the bay, then lock it in place with a switch that also activates the cartridge. The external bay works with either USB 2.0 or FireWire.

The Mobile DataVault ships with five removable cartridges—so you can establish a rotating backup schedule—and a full five-client version of the popular Dantz Retrospect Professional 6.5 backup software (although the unit is also compatible with Veritas Backup Exec 9.0). Connection between the bay chassis and the cartridge is through a mini-Centronics interface.

The drive bay insertion mechanism works well, but the eject button seems a bit fragile. The Dantz Retropect software is easy to use and supports a variety of backup options, ranging from a simple clone of the source drive to full support for incremental, on-going backups. Additionally, Retrospect lets clients back up their data over the network.

We tested the Mobile DataVault on our Dell Dimension XPS test system, performing 16GB backups using USB 2.0 and FireWire. Overall, data throughput is limited by the connection, but we did notice that the USB backup was slightly faster (39 minutes 48 seconds compared to 55 minutes 18 seconds).

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Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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