Hard-disk autoloader a tape killer?

This hard-disk autoloader is meant for small to midsize businesses

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Inside the loader is a cartridge-transport system on an elevator. When a particular cartridge is needed, the transport jogs up or down behind the stack, stops at the correct cartridge, and sucks it in. Only one cartridge can be loaded at a time.

Working the Beast

While the REV Loader isn't rocket science, it did take a few tries before things were working smoothly. The first Loader that arrived had a front panel button jammed under the bezel. Even after it was set free by applying a pointy stick to the problem area, the device proudly refused to work. Iomega overnighted a second drive, which powered up flawlessly -- but that put us face to face with the software.

CA Inc.'s ARCserve backup software is on tap here for backup tasks. It offers the usual options -- full and incremental backups, password protection, accidental file-deletion protection, and immediate or scheduled backups. It also works with any drive you have installed in or directly attached to your PC, so you're not limited to the REV Loader as your only target drive. (It will not recognize networked devices. For that, you'll need to buy a separate version of ARCserve.)

If you work in that nebulous arena called the "IT cloud," you already know that CA software, in general, is outrageously comprehensive. Unfortunately, that can translate into unnecessarily complex software in the small-to-midsize business environment where Doctor Bob is simply trying to meet his Sarbanes-Oxley Act obligations.

For example, you should be able to reasonably expect that something called the "Backup Wizard" would get you backed up in as automated a fashion as possible. But no, you need to head to the Manager section of the software. There, life will be revealed in a Windows Task Manager type view, compete with a plethora of options and frames within Windows. Thankfully, the first time you do this, you'll be greeted by "My First Backup," a series of preset options that will walk you through the process. Remember those steps.

Ironing Out the Lumps

Don't feel smug yet. Even though you may theoretically have everything correct, things may still not work. Technically, a REV cartridge is preformatted and should therefore work in the Loader. We discovered that two of the eight cartridges supplied weren't formatted -- or at least not well enough for the Loader to appreciate them -- and one cartridge simply wouldn't work at all.

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