One of the most important issues facing any business, large or small, is ensuring all mission-critical data is kept safe and up to date. Whether it's financial records, product designs, research results, or just copies of product reviews, having an infrastructure that will enable the business to get back up and running in a short time, even after massive data loss has been incurred could mean the difference between success and failure for the business.
Unfortunately, traditional tape-based backup solutions are far from ideal, especially for a small business without a dedicated IT department or for the self-employed. The problem with tapes is they are slow to write to, so backups always take a long time, and they need to be changed everyday, which can be a real inconvenience for an individual. Also, because tapes store data linearly, you need to fast forward or rewind them to access specific data, which also makes recovering data slow.
With the GoVault, then, Quantum is aiming to eliminate a number of the traditional problems with existing backup solutions and provide the user with a fast, easy-to-use, yet robust system. The key to this is, instead of using tape, the GoVault employs a notebook-sized (2.5in) hard drive encased in a cartridge to store data. These cartridges can be swapped out just as quickly and easily as a tape but unlike tapes, they don't need to be changed everyday, they are fast to write to and, perhaps most importantly, can be randomly accessed so data recovery is potentially orders of magnitude faster than tape storage.
The GoVault system is available in two types; the internal version which sits in the 5.25in drive bay of a PC and interfaces over SATA, and the external one, which has an external caddy and interfaces over USB 2.0. There are obvious compromises between both versions, with the USB interface of the external drive making it slow and the lack of portability of the internal one limiting its uses, but at least there's a choice. Maybe an external version that also has an eSATA interface could be developed, and then you'd have both the speed of SATA with the convenience of a portable unit. Regardless, it's the external one that we're reviewing, so let's see how it fares.
The caddy is particularly striking as it looks like it's been made to military spec rather than for the relatively mundane life of a normal office. The wavy aluminium outer skin is incredibly strong, exhibiting no flex or buckling no matter how much we manhandled it. Indeed, a couple a bashes with some heavy metal objects (no, not leather trousers and pointy guitars) and a few accidently-on-purpose falls from our test beds proved it to be strong enough for even the clumsiest IT admin. If all that isn't enough, though, there are also a couple of strips of rubber that run the length of the drive on the top and bottom to help keep it secure on your desk.