Quantum GoVault Data Protector 800 Tabletop Dock
The GoVault is also based on magnetic disks, but it utilizes conventional hard drives instead of a special media design like the one Iomega’s device uses. Quantum did something intended to lower the price-per-gigabyte ratio: It created a backup solution that embeds 2.5” Serial ATA hard drives into a cartridge, providing better robustness. Quantum says that cartridges withstand a one-meter drop to hard surfaces. The drive appears just like any other hard drive in the Windows device manager. Quantum does not support Macs, but only PCs with Windows or Linux operating systems.
We looked at the Data Protector 800 Tabletop Dock, which is an external device with a USB 2.0 data transfer connection. There is an internal version for Serial ATA, and there are various bundles between each of these drives and two cartridges at 40, 80, 120 or 160 GB capacity. Since these are all based on 2.5” hard drives, Quantum can increase available capacities at any time at up to 500 GB.
Quantum does not have the same high reliability numbers as Iomega, reaching 300,000 and 375,000 hours MTBF versus 400,000 hours with the REV 120 GB and only 5,000 insertion cycles, which may be the case because of the Serial ATA connector, which certainly wasn’t designed for such an application. We do believe that it is robust enough, though.
Quantum has one significant performance advantage: If the internal Serial ATA version is used, the GoVault drive should only be limited by the performance of the 2.5” hard drives used. With our test sample, the device reached its limits when the USB 2.0 created a bottleneck. However, it turned out that the backup process takes longer on the faster Quantum drive, as it stores files directly and uses Quantum’s so-called de-duplication technology to avoid storing files redundantly.
While the GoVault cartridges basically are just beefed up enclosures for 2.5” hard drives, the GoVault drive is more than a removable drive solution, as it does address issues related to missing SATA hot plug support—required to exchange hard drives on the fly. Drives will be available in the Windows device manager even if you remove them.
Not Cheap Despite Affordable Media
The GoVault drives are affordable, as the internal SATA version bundled with one 40 GB cartridge retails for $329, and the USB 2.0 version retails for $369. However, the high-capacity bundles as well as the cartridges are fairly expensive. Be ready to spend $209 for 80 GB, $319 for 120 GB and $339 for the 160 GB cartridges. Clearly, that’s unreasonable given that a 160 GB 2.5” SATA hard drive costs between $55 and $75 in retail channels.