Ecrix used Macworld Expo to launch its VXA-1 tape backup drive for Macintosh. It takes a different approach to tape backup that is considerably more robust than previous technologies.

To prove the point, a tape holding a backup was tested with a series of tortuous assaults. After dropping the tape in boiling water, it was then frozen followed by a quick dunk in a cup of coffee. Even after all this, a 100 per cent restore was still possible according to the company.

The tapes are so sturdy because the data is recorded in packets rather than a continuous stream of data - this is the same way data is transmitted over the Internet. The DPF (Discreet Packet Format) dramatically improves the ability to recover data.

In addition to this feature, there is a generous 66GB capacity on each tape, enough for even the busiest studio or office. The transfer rate is a healthy 6MB per second, which means it can theoretically fill a tape in a little over three hours in optimum conditions.

There are two other proprietary features in the VXA-1: VSO and OSO. VSO (variable speed operation) stops a problem some drives have called back-hitching. This is caused by wear and tear from shuttling back and forth while recording data. OSO (Over Scan Operation) is the way the packet data is read by multiple scans, ensuring maximum recovery of data.

The VXA is currently available in SCSI-2 and LVD, with a FireWire version due later in the year. It also ships with Retrospect Workgroup Backup from Dantz.

For all the news from Macworld Expo 2000, San Francisco, go to Macworld’s round-up pages.