Tools Of The Trade: The Iomega REV Loader 280 hard drive

The conventional way of backing up large quantities of computer data is to tape it, in much the same way you would have recorded music in days gone by. Tapes costs a couple of pounds each, but the process is slow and they are vulnerable to damage.

Backing up to a hard disk is now a popular alternative since it is quicker and recovering the data is much faster too. But disk systems do have their drawbacks, the most serious being that they are less portable than tapes. If an office is hit by a fire or flood and the server is damaged, it is highly likely the backup disks will be affected too.

Iomega's REV, a miniature hard drive, aims to combine the portability and flexibility of tape with the speed and robustness of a disk-based system.

A single REV drive, at 35 gigabytes, will not back up large servers. So Iomega has combined eight of the drives in its REV Loader 280. This is a compact box that connects to a server or PC via a USB cable, and can automatically back up data to a total storage capacity of 280GB uncompressed, or 560GB with compression turned on.

The REV Loader 280 works with most reasonably recent versions of both the desktop and server versions of Windows. It can be used either as a standalone unit that copies on to multiple REV disks, or as an automated backup system. Iomega supplies a basic version of Computer Associates' ARCServe software to manage this.

The REV Loader 280 can work in a number of ways. A network manager could set the machine up to back up a server to a different REV disk every day, for example, or use multiple disks to capture larger databases or other files.

Some of the sophisticated features of ARCServe, like auto- mated backup and archiving of Microsoft Exchange email servers, aren't included. For these, you'll have to buy a more advanced version of the software.

But for a lot of small firms, the supplied software will be good enough. Backup speeds are also quick - faster than to a low-end USB hard drive.

The automation features also make it a good bet for offices where there is no full-time IT administrator. The Loader 280 is fairly priced and compares well to tape.

RATING: 3 out of 5.

PROS: automated backup and recovery; more robust than tapes.

CONS: included software is quite basic; sparse documentation.

COST: £628.96 plus VAT.