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Is Zettabits Next Generation Storage?

Zettabits By Zettabyte

We should start with some explanation of the naming here. Zettabyte is the name of the company and it's derived from zetta, which is a units multiplier that comes right after tera, peta and exa. Zettabits is the actual product, which consists of a zBox NAS storage device and the online data backup feature. There are two editions: Zettabits for few users and small offices, and Zettabits Pro for multiple users and larger environments. Zettabits includes a NAS box that runs a single hard drive; Zettabits Pro is a more sophisticated device, which is based on two hard drives to allow data to be mirrored. The Pro edition also includes a third level of security via an optional monthly or quarterly tape backup, which is performed by Zettabyte and sent to you via mail.

You cannot just buy a zBox; the concept is based on a full service instead. This means there is a monthly fee that depends on the Zettabits edition and the capacity you choose. The bad news is that it's not really cheap - monthly prices vary between $49 and $299 for the single-drive Zettabits, and $199 to $499 for the dual-drive Zettabits Pro. Zettabits is available at 30 GB and up to 690 GB; Zettabit pro starts at 140 GB. Don't forget that you never purchase the hardware: Zettabyte will send you the device for the duration of your contract period. You can run it month to month, but you can save up to 25% if you decide to go for up to four years in advance and another 5%, if you pay for a year in advance. So ideally you can save as much as 30% off the standard pricing. This brings a $169 365 GB Zettabits down to $118. Also, there is no setup or cancellation fee, and all shipping required is also covered by the monthly fee. Zettabyte states that you can change service details at all times - I hope this also includes pricing or capacity adjustments for existing customers that are on a long contract.

Both editions support hourly backups of data, which should be frequent enough to provide a rather high level of data safety in case anything happens to your zBox. zBox data is automatically encrypted with an AES algorithm using a 256-bit key when being transferred to the backup service. Zettabits Pro even goes a step farther, as all zBox contents are encrypted by default: you need the 256-bit key on an USB stick to be able to decrypt the content. This means that your data is secure both on the Internet location and on your zBox, because a thief won't be able to access the content without the key (or year-long brute force decryption attempts). One feature to be added soon, which will make the Zettabits solutions more interesting for business users, is data versioning. This feature allows users to restore previous file versions in case they were modified or deleted accidentally, and versioned archiving is sometimes even be required by law.

We received both products for testing. The Zettabits single hard drive version looks like an external hard drive or a NAS box, which in fact it is. Zettabits Pro is basically an entire system based on a MiniITX solution. As opposed to the standard edition, Zettabits Pro runs on a Gigabit Ethernet interface. Both versions are self-monitoring and will automatically notify Zettabyte if anything points to a hardware failure. According to Zettabyte, it may very well happen that you receive a new zBox out of the blue, because the old one may be close to a hardware failure. As soon as you replace it, the new box will start downloading your contents from the online backup location.

Another aspect of Zettabyte's product/service model are future services and capacities. Since you do not purchase the box, changing your contract is the way to upgrade to higher capacities and to get features that may be added later on. You will, of course, have to return your zBox after receiving an updated one.