Swap tape for removable disks


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Transporting disk cartridges

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Protecting disk cartridges during transit requires different procedures than when moving tape cartridges.

Vibration protection. Removable disk cartridges have more rugged casings and are less susceptible to damage than normal disk drives, but they're still disk drives. Use cases that absorb shock and keep them away from areas where there might be excessive vibration.

Buy carrying cases with locks. Thieves can remove the internal disk drive, insert it into a standard ATA or IDE interface, and access data. Storage cases that can be locked can serve as a deterrent.

Protect against liquids. Liquids can penetrate a case unless it's designed to shed liquids (drain water away from the center of the case) or is waterproof.

Use multimedia cases. Some cases can accommodate multiple media types. Be cautious about exposing tape to the foam often used as cushioning in cases. Over time, the debris created by foam can damage tapes and cause data loss. Disk drives, however, are sealed and aren't susceptible to damage from floating debris.

Removable disk vendors, trying to overcome user skepticism about changing from tape to disk, are emphasizing product durability, ease of use and price. Removable disk cartridges measure durability in many of the same ways that tape cartridges do. For instance, a common measurement of tape cartridge durability is the ability to withstand the force of a drop and remain usable. While tapes are generally rated on their ability to withstand a 36-inch drop to a carpeted surface, removable disk cartridges such as the Imation Corp. Odyssey Removable Hard Disk Storage System and Dell Inc. PowerVault RD1000/Tandberg Data RDX QuikStor products are rated to a higher standard and can withstand a one meter (approximately 39 inches) drop to concrete and remain usable.

Tape drive insertion is another common measurement of tape cartridge durability that most removable disk cartridges now far exceed. The life of a tape cartridge is often determined by the magnetic head of the tape drive, which makes contact with the media in the tape cartridge as it reads and writes data. The disk drive bays into which removable disk drives cartridges are inserted don't make this type of direct contact, which gives the media a longer life. Curt Krempin, product marketing manager, Dell enterprise product group, says the life of the simple connector interface found on most removable hard disk drives has "an expected reliability rating 10 times that of typical low-end tape drives like 4 mm DAT or Travan."

This was first published in March 2007

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