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Q: Three things put me off the Rev 70.

First, the statement that the drive is guaranteed five years and the cartridge 30 years. Is there any likelihood that one will be able to buy a new drive in 10 years that is capable of handling the current cartridges?

Second, the storage size. Given the size of current files, and the inability to compress some photo files very much, 70GB cartridges feel too small already.

Third, even if one can hit “restore” in 10 years time, how will one’s PC then handle the data and programs that are restored? We will by then be in the fourth or fifth generation after Vista. The underlying software of the programs you back up today will not be supported in 10 years, even if the company that makes it is still in business.

Jan Harrington

A: Thanks for the questions/observations. I think the 5/30 year guarantee is really an attempt to reassure potential buyers about the viability of the technology rather than a prediction about the likelihood that any particular technology will still be in widespread use.

Iomega may be particularly sensitive to this because of the well-publicised ”Click of Death” problems that surfaced with its Zip drives.

That said, the company clearly believes that the REV technology has legs. The first 35GB drives sold well and, to its credit, Iomega has made sure these second generation 70GB drives are backward read- and write-compatible with first-generation REV 35GB disks.

Assuming Iomega follows its current REV roadmap, it is probably reasonable to assume that future higher capacity drives will also be backwardly compatible. However, as you point out, next generation software compatibility is far from assured so a 30-year disk life may be moot.

One positive sign (at least in terms of platform stability) is that the gap between Windows versions appears to be getting longer, just as it is for Web browsers and some other applications.

Nevertheless, I agree that it is doubtful whether many of the programs available today will be supported in 10 years. As another reader pointed out recently, some software packages that are less than five years old are no longer sold or supported.

You are also absolutely right that 70GB, even with compression, is not an enormous amount of space, given the size of today’s media files.

However, most of the time I suspect REV buyers will use the drives to back up critical data rather than all material on a hard drive.

One thing I did not have room to point out in my review is that Iomega also sells several larger capacity REV-based server back-up options ,including a USB Loader that comes with eight 35GB REV disks capable of storing 280GB of uncompressed data and up to 560GB compressed. The USB Loader is designed to back up a whole system and costs $1,500.

The company also sells a SCSI-based REV Autoloader for $2,200 that stores up to 350GB natively or 700GB compressed and a 320GB NAS (Network Attached Storage) appliance that combines both hard-drives for file sharing and back-up, and a REV drive for archiving.


Paul Taylor (paul.taylor@ft.com) tackles your high-tech problems and queries at www.ft.com/gadgetguru

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