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Iomega's REV Loader 280: The Ultimate Backup Master?

REV Loader 280 Details

The REV Loader is not available in a transparent housing. This model was used for exhibition purposes.

The REV Loader 280 is compact and lightweight (1.8 kg) compared to the footprint of tape autoloaders, and it provides a welcome freeing of space in the server room. The physical dimensions of the unit are 7" x 5" x 11", which are smaller than most printers, and the unit fairly unobtrusive. As tested, the REV loader has space for eight REV disks at 35 GB each (up to 70 GB compressed at a 2:1 compression ratio), leading to a total net unit capacity of 280 GB uncompressed.

You should take note that the unit only ships with one disk, while operation at maximized capacity requires purchase of additional REV cartridges. Partial reasoning for eight disks is to provide storage for each day of the week, with one extra to take off-site in the event of unforeseen disaster.

In a traditional backup system, tapes or disks are singularly inserted into the main drive, dependent upon data stored and required by the user. The REV's autoloader moves the actual device along a vertical path to accommodate multiple disks in the queue, allowing eight disks to be loaded at once. This illustrates another step in removing/minimizing human intervention in the backup cycle, as individual disks need not be changed for weekly archival - provided there is enough available space. For those requiring additional storage and some nifty add-ons such as a barcode reader, Iomega also offers a 10-disk 19" SCSI unit for enterprise environments for about $1,500.00.

Iomega really pushes the fact that its storage media is kept within a self-contained and sanitized cartridge compared to tape, which supposedly justifies a lower failure rate over the long run. This is a simple point, but worthy of consideration. In my old NT Workstation server farm we had some key incidents where dust had infiltrated backup tapes, leading to problematic retrieval. These occurrences were few, but the pain was great and better avoided. The nature of our tests being transient we can't form a long term opinion to substantiate Iomega's claim concerning the sealed nature of the medium. According to the company, the projected shelf life of the cartridges is greater than 30 years.

The REV Loader we received shipped with power adaptors for most parts of the world. It also features the ability for users to encrypt and password protect stored files and a Kensington lock mechanism for data and appliance security.

The REV cartridges are fairly inexpensive today: You can find four-packs for about $50 on the Internet.

The back part of the REV Loader is fairly clean. There is the power jack, the USB interface and the power switch.