Review: Will Disk Backup Trample Tape?

Tandberg Data this month released a new portable disk technology called RDX QuikStor that aims to surpass existing tape-based archival technologies. The RDX solution can outperform competing tape backups such as DLT-4, DAT-72 and DAT-160.

With a 30-MBps transfer rate, the RDX can backup up to 80 Gbytes of data in less than an hour, while other tape technologies can take anywhere between two to seven hours for a complete 80-Gbyte backup. This is perhaps the first time that a disk-based technology beats an equivalent tape-based backup system.

In the past, tape has proven to be far superior due to its low-cost, high-capacity and long-term media retention. However, tape is notoriously slow during backups and fails many times during this process. In addition, tape retrievals are sometimes difficult to access due to its sequential nature.

Since the RDX is disk-based, users can search for data using random access. After an initial test, the CRN Test Center found that the random-access method even surpasses many of the pseudo random-access methods developed by competing tape technologies. The method proved to be extremely reliable and fast.

RDX's cartridges are shock-proof, and according to Tandberg, cartridges can be dropped from 3 feet onto concrete floors several times without incurring any internal damage. Test Center engineers performed the drop test a few times and as Tandberg promised, the cartridge was not damaged.

Tandberg has built intelligence into each disk to keep track of usage during rotation. RDX cartridges range from 40 Gbytes to 160 Gbytes and have a reliability factor of 500,000 hours— more than 10 times competing tape technologies.

Priced at just $354, system builders can offer the RDX as a low-end backup solution for small servers and high-end workstations. According to Tandberg, disk-based backup has a huge future in the entry-level market, as disks are likely to replace DLTs, DATs and SLRs.