Iomega has announced that it is now shipping its new REV drive – offering a hard-drive performance in a removable disk, according to the company.

The REV drive is the first product to be based on Iomega's new Removable Rigid Disk (RRD) technology, designed to "solve many of the problems encountered with tape solutions". It offers a capacity of 35GB (or 90GB compressed) and the company believes it will be the smallest portable storage disk – it measures 10-x-77-x-75mm.

It is also expected to cost less than most tape alternatives – according to Iomega the drive is likely to cost around £269, and the tapes £40 (including VAT).

Iomega claims the REV discs are more durable than tape because the sensitive read/write heads and electronics are sealed in the REV drive and benefit from an air-filtrating system. The removable data cartridge holds only the rotating disk and spindle motor.

REV disks also transfer data up to eight times faster than tape and can be rewritten more than a million times, claims the company.

A maximum sustained transfer rate of 25 MB/sec, and drag-&-drop random access technology means REV users can copy and restore individual files in seconds, says Iomega.

The company says a 20GB file will take 20 minutes to back up with REV technology, compared to an hour with DDS tape.

REV drives feature a Boot and Run feature that provides users with "prompt disaster recovery". Iomega claims the drive can act as a "spare hard disk" until a failed hard-drive can be replaced. REV is compatible with most backup and disaster recovery software – Iomega's Automatic Backup Pro Software is bundled.

Iomega president and CEO Werner Heid said: "The new Iomega REV drive is a unique and versatile product that changes the rules of data backup, combining superior reliability and performance with breakthrough pricing. Backing-up to tape has always involved compromises because tape is a relatively fragile, slow and expensive linear-access technology. Iomega's new REV drive makes backup and system or file recovery tasks faster, easier and less costly. Small business owners and IT managers will save immediately in terms of labour, hardware costs and system downtime."

New markets

According to Iomega, the REV drive appeals to a broader market of individuals and businesses that have avoided tape backup products because they are slow, expensive, and difficult to use. IDC estimates suggest that the market for REV backup in small and medium-sized businesses is sizeable, with 7.9 million small businesses (under 100 employees) and 93,000 mid-size firms (100 to 999 employees) in the US.

Medical, legal, financial and other such businesses faced with regulatory compliance requirements for data archiving, and the millions of home office households confronting a growing deluge of data, further extend the market for internal and external REV drives as an ideal backup, archiving, and portable storage solution, suggests Iomega.

IDC research manager Robert Amatruda said: "Iomega's REV drive is a compelling alternative for customers who have traditionally used tape for backup and data-protection on their entry-level servers as well as high-end desktops. REV's performance, ease-of-use and attractive price make it a good fit for small businesses that value high-capacity removable storage."

The Iomega REV drive is now shipping in USB 2.0 external and ATAPI internal configurations. REV disks are available individually or in a four-pack. Iomega REV autoloaders, which will support multiple disks per drive unit, are currently planned for introduction in the second half of 2004. FireWire, SCSI and SATA models are also planned for introduction in the second half of this year. UK pricing is to be confirmed.