It’s not often that we get sent a product, plug it in and find that it just works. But that’s exactly what happened when we tested the Imation Odyssey, a removable hard disk storage device designed to replace slower, more expensive, tape-based backup solutions.
Open the box and inside you’ll find a compact white and grey docking station, an AC adapter and a cartridge containing a 2.5-inch SATA-150 hard disk. The docking station attaches to the host PC or server using the USB lead supplied and the cartridge is inserted via a slot at the front. A self-loading mechanism then draws the cartridge inside with the only control being an eject button that glows green when all is well and red when there’s a problem.
The Imation drive can be used with both Windows PCs and Apple Macs, with media management software supplied for Windows to automatically mount cartridges and eject them again under software control. Cartridges also come pre-formatted in NTFS, so you can start using them immediately, either manually dragging folders and files onto the disks or by loading up the EMC Retrospect backup application also included in the box.
A key selling point is the use of standard SATA hard disks, each supplied in a sealed casing designed to withstand a 900 G-force shock; the equivalent of being dropped from a metre onto a concrete surface. That makes for a very robust and fast solution – a lot quicker than most tape drives – although overall performance will also depend on the the host PC/server and the software being used.
For our tests we connected the Odyssey via a USB 2.0 interface to a Windows server fitted with a disk array and used the EMC Retrospect software to take backups. With this setup it took a couple of hours to completely copy 40GB of data. That’s quick enough for most home and small business needs and a lot faster than using a comparable tape drive, the majority of which would also cost a lot more to buy.
On the downside disks do cost more than tapes, although the Odyssey cartridges aren’t that expensive. We were sent the smallest 40GB cartridge which sells separately for about £55 + VAT, while 80GB cartridges can be had for around £79 + VAT and 120GB cartridges for £115 + VAT. Larger capacities will also be added as the disks become available.
As well as being quick the Imation drive really is very easy to install and use, the Retrospect software also proving straightforward with a wizard-driven interface for those with limited expertise. Despite which, all the usual backup facilities are provided, including the ability to run backups unattended and include network shares as well as local storage devices in the process. A useful disaster recovery option is also available to boot and recover a crashed server from a pre-prepared CD.
A lot cheaper and faster than a tape drive, the Odyssey also compares well on price against other removable disk products such as the Iomega Rev drive. Added to which it just works, which is always worth having.
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