Yes, this Backup Reminder is late. Sort of like my Mother’s Day card. It’s getting to be a habit, and not a good one. Part of the problem is that it seems to take me so much longer to write my own e-zine than to write a blog post for a client. Those rarely take more than half an hour, including research. The Backup Reminder rarely takes less than an hour, often not including research.
Not being entirely without filial piety, I phoned my mother yesterday afternoon. She got a computer a few months ago and has been faithfully reading my Backup Blog and discovering all kinds of things she never knew.
Mom had a great suggestion: to re-post earlier editions of the Backup Reminder when I was pressed for time or didn’t have a good subject in mind. I’ve known podcasters to do this: just repeat the first season instead of recording a second season. It works fine for those who didn’t start listening until near the end of the first season anyway. And there are only a handful of people who actually read the first year’s backup reminders, because it’s a small mailing list and I didn’t start posting them on the blog until 2005.
There is one small problem, however. Technology changes fast. Recommendations I made in 2003 may be totally irrelevant now. Nevertheless, in looking over some of my earliest posts, I did get something of a sense that the more things change, the more they stay the same. (I usually prefer to say that in French, but I’m not going to attempt the diacritical marks here, and anyway, it is kind of pretentious.)
I thought what I’d do instead was look at some of the older posts and produce updated versions. Today we’re going back to April of 2004, to talk about the Iomega REV drive.
So what did I say about the REV drive in 2004?
Iomega, the maker of my venerable 100-MB parallel ZIP drive, is now offering a Removable Hard Disk System (which it calls the REV). The drive (available either as an external USB 2 drive or an internal ATAPI drive for desktop PCs) takes 35 GB removable disks and claims to be 7 times faster than tape backups.
At $350 for the drive and $60/disk, it’s not an inexpensive solution, though the drive ships both with Iomega Backup Pro and Norton Ghost. The REV system claims to be more cost-effective than DDS-4 tape backups, but if any of you are currently using, or considering investing in, tape backups, it’s news to me. The REV system also suffers from the same problem that Iomega’s ZIP and JAZ do: although you can transport a lot of data on one disk, only another REV drive can read it.
My 100 MB ZIP drive died years ago, and everything I used to have on ZIP disks in now on CD, DVD, my network drive, or all of the above. But Iomega has just announced the latest iteration of the REV: a 120 GB removable drive available with either an external or an internal enclosure, with Dantz Retrospect Express (not one of my favorites, last time I looked at it) pre-installed to help you make your backups.
The problem with the new REV drive, as Stephen Withers writes in ITWire, is the same as the problem with the old REV drive, and all of Iomega’s proprietary storage solutions. It’s expensive for what you get, and there’s no obvious advantage over the alternatives. And unlike an ordinary external hard drive, you can’t just connect it to any computer: you need a working REV drive to restore the data.
All of which makes it faintly amazing that Iomega continues to produce removable drives. They do also sell network drives and ordinary external hard drives (some of them rather cute), and even a drive designed to work with you Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. I liked my ZIP drive, mind you, but I like USB thumb drives and 2.5″ external hard drives a lot better. They’re more portable, more compatible, and less expensive.