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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