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Affordable, efficient backup device?

I'm looking for a low cost (<= $700) and efficient backup device to backup a small peer-to-peer network (7 PCs).  We'd been using a Travan tape backup drive on one workstation to backup the local system and mapped drives for other network workstations.  We've had two Travan drives fail in the last four years.  However, the existing system, once scheduled, was pretty low maintenance to have it run on its own.  I'm looking to replace our current drive with something quieter and faster, yet still easy to use, and able to backup network drives.  I can buy another Travan drive for about $200, so I don't want to spend too much.  And the cost of media is a definite consideration.  Any recommendations?
Has anyone had success with Iomega's REV drives?  They "sound" like exactly what I'm looking for.  But the couple user reviews I've seen don't sound good.
1 Solution
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I think you should open a spreadsheet and do the math... how much data are you backing up?  How long do you need to keep it?  Based on this information you can calculate how much media (Rev Disks or Tapes) you will need in a year.   Then calculate the cost of the media and multiply by the number you need.

Personally, for small networks, I would say you should SERIOUSLY consider a hard-disk based solution.  Again, for small networks, I'm fond of recommending the Wiebetech ComboDock and any plain old desktop hard disk.

The ComboDock (available from www.wiebetech.com) is $175 including shipping.  Hard drives range in price from $45 for 40GB drive ($1.13 per GB) to $284 for a 400GB drive ($0.71 per GB) with the best storage per GB rate using a 200GB hard drive for $102.50 ($0.51 per GB)

A 35 GB "REV" Disk is $50 ($1.43 per GB; $0.56 per GB if you believe their advertised compression ratios).  The drive is $482 (it's a "Starter kit").

If you use 50GB of backup space a week (2600 GB/year), need to keep it for a year, then you need probably 52 REV disks (Unless your only backing up a database, there's no way REV disks are getting you 90 GB per disk  I personally think you'd be lucky to see 55-60.  Hence I estimate 50GB per disk).  At $50 a disk, this is  $2600 + 482 for the Rev Drive, + shipping and possibly tax.  MINIMUM of $3100 for the year, the first year.

Now if you use hard drives, you spend 13x200GB hard drives.  At $102.50 per drive, that's $1333 per year in "media".  + the combo dock of $175, plus shipping charges and possibly tax, figure probably in the $1600 area.  Almost HALF the price of a REV solution.  PLUS, if the Combo Dock ever dies, you can always slave the backup drive(s) to a PC and recover data EASILY.  If the REV drive dies, you have to buy a new one and if IOMEGA abandons the technology, you're out of luck completely (other than ebay).  AND, as drives increase in size and become cheaper, they become even more cost effective.  And when you want to "retire" a drive, you can add it to a desktop and increase the storage capacity of the desktop.  Your call, but I wouldn't waste the money on Iomega stuff.
Wow, awesome analysis leew. I just had to add a comment so I could easily reach this thread by looking at my profile of questions participated in. I was going to suggest ntbackup with external hard drives as well.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Thanks craylord,

And just FEI (For Everyone's Info), prices listed are based on prices found on Newegg.com a few moments ago.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Oh, and just to be clear, the ComboDock is a device that effectively turns ANY (P)ATA hard drive into an external USB OR Firewire (it has both connections) hard drive, WITHOUT enclosing it, so it's fairly easy to swap drives.  
we use rev drives for a couple of customers without problems up to now...
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
But are they as cost effective as hard drives?
tyhat was not one of their problems, they wanted a reliable backup, easy to handle, and removable.
Travan tapes are a waste of time and money - they have a life expectancy of mere months in my direct experience.

The lowest cost tape backup solution we have found to be even vaguely reliable is a Sony AIT-1. YOu can get this as a SCSI, ATAPI or (external) Firewire/USB2 drive.

We've put in a couple of internal ATAPI drives - but there is no apparent way to configure the block and buffer parameters and the drive runs slowly because the default settings are not good. (i,e, circa 10Mb/min when it should do more like 30).

We've been happiest with the external Firewire / USB model. It'll get up to abotu 90Gb with compression, and the speed is fast enough to do a "full backup" of a 60Gb or so 2003 Server or RedHat system and a verify pass overnight with no problem. The external unit mean you can quickly pull it and plug another in if it should fail - but so far none have!

Cost of the drive is in the region of £500, though do bear in mind the tapes are not cheap.

We generally supplement this with a disk-to-disk backup either to a workstation share or to an external hard disk using SecondCopy. (www.centered.com)

Steve McCarthy, MCSE, MCSA, MCP x8, Network+, i-Net+, A+, CIWA, CCNA, FDLE FCIC, HIPAA Security OfficerIT Consultant, Network Engineer, Windows Network Administrator, VMware AdministratorCommented:
Unfortunately the Travan are unreliable.  You can get a nice little DDS4 drive, but unless you buy from say ebay, you won't be able to get one with enough media for the money you want to spend.  You will need to replace the media about once a year on thise though

Sooooo, here are a couple of other suggestions.  You can get a maxtor OneTouch II Backup drive in say 250 or 300gb capacities.  That would run about $250.  As leew said, seriously consider a hard disk solution.  These are very highly recommended.

Or, put a nice big drive in an existing server or workstation.  If you can RAID them together as a RAID 1 (Mirroring), even better.  A couple of fast 250's or 400's will set you back less than say $500.  You can backup to them.  Where I work, I use Veritas to Backup to Disk at some locations and a nifty little program called Second Copy 2000, www.centered.com.  It's only $29 if you decide to purchase.  It can do exact copies, simple copies, or synchronizations between drives and on just about any schedule you desire.  Robocopy from the resource kit can also do these things when coupled with Task Scheduler.
lyonskiAuthor Commented:
Thank you leew for your thorough and complete advice.  It helped steer me in the right direction!

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