SureVault Delivers at FireWire 800 Speeds

But heft, price could keep kano's external drive unit out of smaller shops.

Kano Technologies Corp.s SureVault 800 external hard drive unit provides robust storage capacity with the latest FireWire 800 technology and enhanced data protection with built-in RAID 5 support.

SureVault 800

The entry-level SureVault 800 provides high data throughput rates and strong data protection with hardware RAID 5 built in. The system is plug and play and is ideal for any professional looking for a robust desktop RAID storage device. The SureVault is priced starting at $2,200 for 360GB of storage capacity and includes a FireWire 800 adapter and Retrospect Express backup software.
















  • PRO: FireWire 800 support; large storage capacity with built-in hardware RAID 5; easy to set up.
  • CON: Expensive; large enclosure; takes up valuable space.

• LaCies Big Disk • Maxtors Personal Storage 5000xt • Western Digitals FireWire Hard Drive

eWEEK Labs tests showed the SureVault, which shipped last month, is a good choice for data-intensive applications such as video/audio editing, although its price is significant. With an entry-level price of $2,200, its much more costly than single-drive devices from LaCie Ltd., Maxtor Corp. and Western Digital Corp.

The SureVault can support three hot-plug Ultra ATA drives with built-in hardware RAID 5 support to provide better data protection than single-disk devices.

In addition to safeguarding data, the SureVault offers high data transfer rates using the latest FireWire 800 I/O interfaces. Using ATA drives for data-intensive applications such as video editing/ rendering will usually cause performance penalties, but the faster data throughputs provided by FireWire 800 will enable the SureVault drive to maintain stable performance when transferring large data files.

The SureVault also comes bundled with a four-port PCI FireWire 800 host adapter card, which can be used for Windows and Mac OS environments. The FireWire card is a good addition because most systems today come only with FireWire 400 ports, and the two standards use different connectors.

Based on the IEEE 1394 standard originally developed by Apple Computer Inc., FireWire is the 1394b specification and can support data throughputs of up to 800M bps. FireWire 800, the fastest peripheral standard today, is a prime I/O connectivity option for imaging, video and audio applications with demanding data throughput requirements.

FireWire 800 has almost twice the throughput of its predecessor, the FireWire 400 and USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 standard. FireWire 800 also supports cable lengths of up to 100 meters, enhancing the distance data can travel, and advanced data encoding technology lessens the distortion during data transfers. FireWire 800 also has a scalable road map that could raise throughput to 1,600M bps.

The SureVault we tested has three 120GB Ultra ATA hard drives for as much as 360GB of raw storage capacity with built-in hardware RAID 5. There is no option for configuring the drives with RAID 0 or 1. It would be to Kanos advantage to provide different RAID options for users who might need striping (RAID 0) for best performance and highest storage capacity.

The device has dual FireWire 800 ports and single FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports. The SureVault has hot-swap hard drives with a drive failure alarm as well as battery backup.

Bundled with the system are the PCI FireWire 800 host bus adapter and Retrospect Express backup software. Kano also sells higher-capacity models, including 540GB, 600GB and 750GB devices, with prices that range up to $3,100.

At 4.75 inches high and 9.25 inches wide by 12.75 inches deep, and weighing almost 15 pounds, the SureVault enclosure is rock-solid. However, its large and heavy compared with more compact external drives in the market.

External storage devices, such as LaCies Big Disk, which also supports FireWire 800, are much smaller and more compact (the Big Disk measures 6.7 inches high, 1.7 inches wide and 10.6 inches deep) and therefore are more suitable for mobile users. However, although the SureVault box is bulky, the system is surprisingly quiet with three drives running, making it a good desktop companion.

The 400GB LaCie Big Disk is priced at $650 but doesnt come bundled with RAID 5 support, the PCI FireWire host bus adapter or backup software.

Setting up the SureVault for our tests was easy, as expected. We installed the FireWire 800 PCI card on our Windows desktop and connected the cable, and in a matter of minutes we were set to start storing files. Our test desktop had an Intel Corp. 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor with 512MB of memory.

We tested the throughput of the SureVault 800 using the Iometer benchmark. In throughput tests using sustained read with 1MB data blocks, the SureVault 800 delivered more than 60MB per second. Although its performance is not quite twice the throughput of FireWire 400s 40MB per second, the SureVault still provides a significant boost, making it a good investment for data-intensive environments. The SureVault will be a good choice for tapeless data backup and recovery in small shops or for the home office. The included Retrospect Express backup software, from Dantz Development Corp., is a basic utility that is easy to use and ideal for small sites.

Retrospect Express provides a simple management interface. The software can automatically schedule backup jobs by scanning a desktops file system for changes and can create backup images within SureVault. Shops that have tape storage can use Retrospect to schedule backups to those devices as well.

Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at