Removable hard drives have been around almost as long as hard drives themselves. But it wasn't until the wide adoption of USB that the medium took hold for portable backup. And with the improved transfer rates of USB 3.0, the format has become a viable alternative to FireWire.
Offering a solid solution for a variety of data backup and disaster recovery protection scenarios is Tandberg Data, and its RDX QuikStor, a shock-resistant cartridge-based removable hard drive system that's available for internal SATA and external USB 3.0 and 2.0 applications.
The company sent its model RDX QuikStor External USB3 to the CRN Test Center, and testers were impressed with its rugged feel and solid performance. The company sent the unit along with a 160-GB, spinning hard drive. Other available sizes are 500 GB, 640 GB and 1 TB. Tandberg also offers SSD cartridges in 64-, 128-, 256- and 512-GB capacities.
To test performance of the external SuperSpeed unit, we fired up our six-core Intel Core i7-based test fixture, which centers on an Intel DX58SO Extreme motherboard with 4 GB 1333MHz DDR3 memory running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate N. As always, we used IOMeter to measure transaction processing and data throughput performance using an optimization methodology that gradually increases the number of pending IOs per target until performance no longer increases.
The optimal IOmeter setting for the RDX was 12 I/Os per target, under which it delivered a sustained data rate of 254 MBps. That's equal to 2,032 Mbps or about 2Gbps. We also tested the RDX with Symantec Backup Exec 2012 RC5 running on Windows Server 2008 R2. The device was recognized by both the operating system and Symantec's pre-release enterprise data protection software and the drive performed flawlessly with no special drivers needed. And unlike with tape backups, file-by-file restores are almost instantaneous.
In terms of technology, convenience, speed, durability and accessibility of backed up data, the RDX compares favorably with most other backup media when price is not a factor. While the pricey unit would clearly be overkill for personal use, the RDX's utility as a rugged device for service organizations and for data center backup and recovery for the enterprise or small business is self-evident.
Measuring about 7 x 4.5 x 2 inches, the 1.2-pound rubber-clad RDX dock itself feels like a workhorse. Cartridges are about the size of a pack of cigarettes, and include a plastic storage case and pressure-sensitive labels. The dock incorporates its own fan and comes with a bright blue six-foot-long USB 3.0 cable. The RDX QuikStor USB3 lists for $245 and includes a three-year warranty with advance replacement. For SMBs seeking an extremely rugged portable storage solution, the CRN Test Center recommends the RDX QuikStor by Tandberg Data.