The front houses the cartridge slot, which is covered by a spring loaded door. There’s also an activity indicator LED, an emergency eject hole, and the regular electronic eject button. Round the back things are even more sparse with just a couple of sockets for the mini-USB data connection and co-axial power, though these are sunken deep into the chassis to help ensure the sockets aren’t damaged if the caddy takes a tumble.
The cartridge itself is essentially just a hard drive in a protective plastic coat but there are a couple of additions. On the back is something that’s essential; a red plastic slider for switching between read only and read/write mode so you can ensure data isn’t accidently lost. Also, a ridge down one side corresponds with a bump inside the caddy that together ensure you can never insert the cartridge the wrong way – something that could potentially cause damage.
The most important aspect, though, that is the drive is able to survive drops of up to a metre, or at least it’s supposed to. We tested this aspect by dropping the one we had a couple of times from desk height onto our carpeted floor and found the drive completely failed to respond afterwards – it wouldn’t even eject from the caddy until we forced it using the pinhole eject. This was a bit of a catastrophic problem.
We called Quantum about this and the response was one of complete surprise. In fact, they were so concerned they insisted we send the broken cartridge back for testing at their labs. In the mean time they sent us out a replacement and we continued our testing.
This time we started off even smaller, working our way up from 2 x 20cm drops all the way up to 2 x 100cm drops, in 20cm increments, and tested the drive between each pair of drops. This time around the cartridge worked perfectly everytime, so it’s fair to assume the first sample we received may have been faulty – especially as it wasn’t a brand new cartridge but one that may have done the rounds a bit.
Plugging in the GoVault without installing the software enables you to use it just like any other removable storage device so you can drag and drop files to and from it and swap cartridges as and when you like. Indeed, taking this into account, we decided to run the GoVault through our usual file transfer tests that we use for testing all storage devices. These involve simply copying a 1.07GB video file from the hard drive of our test bed to the GoVault and timing how long it takes. We then copy the file back and time it again. Finally, we repeat the process with a folder containing 1,943 image files, which total 497MB.