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


Consumers may wish to consider the cost of the REV units when choosing potential deployment. The street price of the loader we received hovers around $1,100 as of mid-August, 2006, plus the purchase of seven additional REV disks running for around$160 for a four-pack. That brings the total cost to around $5 per gigabyte (uncompressed) when factoring in the machine cost and operating at maximum capacity.

Conversely, you can purchase a 500 GB Serial ATA hard drive for ~$200 to build a dedicated internal backup array exclusively for storage at a cost of $0.4/GB. We even found a 400 GB hard drive for as low as $97 at Costco last week. Ordinary hard drives will not allow you to exchange the media and store it at a secure location, but they will give you much faster transfer rates and an exceptional cost per gigabyte ratio.

If you need the USB style portability, typical IDE/SATA hard drives can be integrated/purchased and fit into an external USB/Firewire case for transport/off-site storage. For those familiar with tape backup, the Iomega REV Loader isn't a bad solution offering marked advantages vs. tape, the most prominent being the random access. The interface is fairly intuitive and the bundled software includes wizards for common tasks. The REV disks are easy to handle and the platform offers a wide range of possibilities and easy installation. The Loader takes the REV disk principle commonly used by many small to mid-size businesses and expands upon it with increased capacity/redundancy. In this light, the Loader accomplishes what it has set out to do.

For those users wanting the convenience of removable storage with faster transfer rates than conventional archival solutions, the REV Loader 280 might be just up their alley, albeit at significant premium compared to using hard drive backups. And there's another issue worth contemplating: Iomega has recently doubled the size of its REV disks to a total of 70 GB (uncompressed), which supposedly offer a 20% increase in transfer rate (30 MB/s) over the 35 GB models. The 70 GB disks will unfortunately be incompatible with the 35 GB edition of the REV 280, but there are plans to release an updated version of the Loader later in 2006.

Author's Opinion

Iomega has been around since the days of the ZIP Drive, which showcased great utility for its time. I could feel like a harbinger of technology while cradling a two-pound paperweight under my arm that ported my Photoshop documents and college projects. Since then I've been concerned that the Iomega business model was potentially becoming obsolete; especially when USB flash drives and other ultra-portables decimated the storage market.

In terms of the REV Loader meandering its way into my heart and workspace, I simply can't substantiate the cost. I can make backups of client data just as fast and with greater per unit capacity by purchasing a run of the mill 120 GB 2.5" drive, loading some cheap/free archival software and slapping it into an external Firewire/USB case. This solution is extremely compact, has a much lower cost per gigabyte and meets my storage needs for a grand total of ~$180 vs. ~$1,400+ for the REV Loader and disks. Using this method you can directly access the data without need of the read/write capacities of the loader. I don't have a separate disk for each day of the week, but I believe I'll manage.

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