Iomega REV 120GB review

£299
Price when reviewed

These three attributes drive the REV’s popularity, and the extra capacity makes them even better candidates for small businesses looking for a simple and eminently portable backup solution. Iomega has dropped spin speed from the 4,200rpm of the REV 70GB to 4,000rpm, but long-term users should note that backward compatibility doesn’t extend to REV 35GB.

The REV 120GB is offered in external USB 2 and internal SATA models, and in this review we put the former through its paces. The USB 2 model isn’t host powered and comes with a compact power supply at the end of a 2m cable. The SATA kit includes brackets for mounting the drive in a 5.25in. bay, a short SATA cable and SATA power converter cable. Both come with EMC’s Retrospect Express backup software, which is designed to backup to any removable media other than tape drives.

Installation needs to start with loading the REV system software since this installs essential drivers. REV drives use the UDF file format so will appear to the system as a CD/DVD drive and not a hard disk. The system software adds a bunch of extra tools to the drive’s drop-down menu for formatting cartridges, write protecting them and password protecting access.

In our real-world performance tests, the REV drive posted quite reasonable speeds and for testing we installed it without any problems in a Boston Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D system running Windows XP SP2. Copying a 690MB video clip between the drive and PC returned read and write speeds of 22MB/sec and 20MB/sec respectively. It also put in a good showing for backup, as we configured Retrospect to secure 12GB of test data to the REV where it reported an average speed of 16.5MB/sec.

Media reliability is always a concern, and we’ve now been running long-term tests on the REV 35GB since it was introduced four years ago. We use the drive on a daily basis for off-site backup and synchronisation between home and work PCs. That’s four times each day the cartridge gets used, and the first one lasted a year before it failed. The next one also lasted a year, but the last one held out for nearly two years and had to be replaced in April this year – that’s more than 2,000 passes.

The increased capacity of the REV 120GB makes it even more appealing to small businesses for backup purposes. Pitch it against tape and it comes out smelling of roses, as although a typical external USB DAT72 drive costs around the same, it has only a quarter the native capacity and its top speed of 3.2MB/sec looks positively pedestrian. At about £50 a pop, the cartridges do cost substantially more than tape, but we think the fact that we’ve only had to replace three in more than four years makes the extra outlay well worthwhile, and we have no plans to replace it with any other solution for our backup purposes.

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