Unlike the seven bay High-Rely eSATA solution we tested two years ago, the RAIDPacs lack the environmental alerts and displays that the former’s disk cartridges have. True, the RAIDPacs do have basic indicator lights and sounds, but there are no extra readings beyond that. Given its current design, knowing whether you have a problem or are just operating normally is not that obvious to someone who hasn’t read the manual.
The overall construction, as I mentioned above, is sturdy. As such, I would like a tool-less construction on the RAIDFrame chassis and the RAIDPacs. Removing twelve screws to access the hard drives is a little excessive, and streamlining the process would be appreciated.
In terms of performance, the RAIDFrame wasn’t designed to be a top performer. It’s not as fast as an internal SATA drive due to the fact that you're sharing the bandwidth of a single 3 Gb/s connection between as many as 15 drives, but it does work faster than USB. With that said, consider this: if the RAIDFrame were built for top-tier speed and performance, customers would have to pay a lot more for it. Instead, Highly Reliable provides a supportable, easy to use backup device with basic functionality that does what it’s supposed to do.
When looking at the price of a single RAIDPac, you’ll spend over $1,200 for 4.5TB in RAID 5, and that isn't including the $3,600 price tag of the chassis itself. If you go online, you can probably build your own eSATA solution for less than $700. However, I’m not completely convinced that the RAIDFrame should be called overpriced just yet. Take into consideration the quality of work that been put into the design of the RAIDFrame chassis, the portability of the RAIDPacs, and Highly Reliable’s effort in creating a simple backup system that has some pretty flexible options. For an IT admin in a medium-sized business to part out and validate a storage system like this, the time spent and question mark on reliability are almost compelling enough reasons to default to a built-up configuration like this.
When looking at the RAIDFrame’s overall design and feature set, there may not be too many competitors. As hard disks get bigger, cheaper, and more reliable, the number of those folks who are apprehensive about disk to disk backups will decrease. For someone new to backups and restores, the RAIDFrame is a relatively easy tool to set up and use. For IT types who're more experienced with storage servers and JBODs, Highly Reliable’s backup solution provides a tool that can be tinkered with and right-sized into any everyday operation.
In my perfect world, I see the RAIDFrame as a great intermediary backup device. The idea of a reasonably quick recovery from disaster is something you can get from the RAIDFrame, especially with files that are constantly being brought back from backups. For long-term archiving, even if you currently go with tape as your end-point back up solution, I’m sure the advantages we get from hard drive based backups will only get better and better.