Quantum GoVault Data Protector 800 review

Price when reviewed

As a small-business backup medium, tape is definitely on the defensive, as an increasing number of storage vendors are launching affordable hard disk-based alternatives. Tandberg Data’s RDX QuickStor (web ID: 100212) was the first, Imation followed next with its Odyssey (web ID: 128951), and now we have Quantum’s GoVault.

But are disk-based backup solutions suitable for off-site storage, since tape has always been a prime candidate thanks to the robust media? Well, Quantum uses sturdy cartridges with 2.5in SATA hard disks mounted inside them. These look capable of withstanding punishment, and Quantum offers them in a range of capacities, with the review model including a 40GB cartridge. In terms of storage costs, Imation’s Odyssey offers the best value, with Quantum’s cartridges only slightly more costly. The QuickStor is the most expensive. However, you’re limited to a USB interface for the Odyssey, whereas the GoVault is offered as an internal SATA model.

Initial installation is a cake-walk, as we just plugged the drive in and watched Windows load its standard drivers. We tested successfully under Vista and Server 2003 R2. At this stage, you can use the GoVault as a simple removable disk drive, format it and copy files to and from it. Installing the bundled application software adds a couple of extra features to the drive’s right-click menu, where it allows you to mount it as a portable media device and password-protect cartridges.

Quantum’s backup software makes the GoVault unique, as it incorporates de-duplication technology. This ensures multiple copies of data aren’t present on the backup media, but the clever part is it does this at the block and not the file level. This level of sophistication isn’t normally seen at the lower end of the backup market, with products such as EMC’s Retrospect Express as bundled with the Odyssey only ensuring files aren’t duplicated. The software is easy to use and you start by creating a data-protection plan that includes your local and networked source data, assigned cartridges and a schedule. You must assign cartridges to the plan, as the software maintains a record of them, will tell you which one to load for data restoration, and can manage a cartridge-rotation scheme for off-site storage.

The processes behind de-duplication are more involved, since the software uses algorithms to identify data blocks and ensure they’re only stored once. This had an impact on the initial backup, where we saw 2GB of local test data take nearly nine minutes for a transfer rate of only 4MB/sec. It’s worth the wait, though, as a glance at the smart reporting tools showed that de-duplication has reduced the space occupied to 1.1GB even though no actual files were duplicated. General performance is par for a USB device, with standard file copies using Explorer returning read and write rates of 20MB/sec and 19MB/sec respectively.

Disk-based backup solutions are becoming ever more popular, and Quantum’s GoVault offers good value and a fair turn of speed, but it’s the unique backup software and its de-duplication that really make it stand out.

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