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Iomega Rev drive review: Iomega Rev drive

Though the Iomega Rev drive does its job well, any number of other storage devices can do the same thing for a fraction of the cost and without the worry of proprietary formats.

Stephen Bigelow
4 min read
Iomega Rev drive
Saving and securing data archives is a very serious matter. Iomega's Rev drive product family addresses both backup and security by writing to a proprietary removable cartridge that you can move offsite for safe storage. The Iomega Rev drive touts an ease of use similar to that of hard drives (writing to the Rev drive is no different than writing to a hard drive for the user). While we liked the USB 2.0 Rev drive that we reviewed last year, we're still not entirely convinced that the Rev system is the best solution. We took a look at the internal SATA Rev drive to see whether we would change our minds, but the fact is, the Rev drive relies on an expensive and proprietary technology. In the face of relatively inexpensive hard drives, such as the Buffalo DriveStation or the LaCie d2 Hard Drive Extreme, it's hard to justify the cost of the Rev drive. Both offer fast data transfers, large storage capacities, immediate compatibility with any Windows XP system sporting a USB 2.0 port, and easy portability to secure critical data. Users who want to move data offsite for safekeeping have a wealth of options available in the form of DVD burners, and power users who want to secure the integrity of their data should check out hard disk RAID arrays, such as the Buffalo TeraStation or the LaCie Biggest F800.

The Rev drive comes in six flavors: USB 2.0, FireWire, internal SATA, internal SCSI, external SCSI, and ATAPI. Performance will differ among these drives, depending on the connection formats; generally, the internal drives will be a bit faster than the external versions. The SATA drive we looked at is an internal drive, roughly the size of a floppy drive. A set of standard drive rails and mounting hardware are included to adapt it to either a 3.5-inch or 5.25-inch drive bay. The diminutive front panel is dominated by the oversized opening in the charcoal-gray bezel to accommodate a 35GB Iomega Rev disk (90GB with backup software compression). The only other feature on the bezel is a combination eject button/activity indicator. The rear of the drive houses power and signal connections. Serial ATA signal and power cables are included.


Iomega Rev drive

The Good

Performance is on a par with standard, equivalent hard drives'; disks can be removed and secured offsite.

The Bad

Expensive drive and disks; internal installation; proprietary media.

The Bottom Line

Although the Iomega Rev is a capable drive, it's overwhelmed by less expensive, nonproprietary storage solutions.

Aside from a free drive bay, you'll also need an available SATA port on your motherboard. If no SATA port is available (maybe because your PC does not support SATA drives or the SATA ports are already connected to SATA drives in the system), you may need to also install a SATA PCI adapter card prior to installing the drive. Start the Rev installation by installing software from the Iomega Solutions CD. The Automatic Install process will preload the drivers and prepare your PC to identify the Rev drive. You'll have to power down and open your PC's case to install the drive, then power up again. The preinstalled software should allow your PC to detect the drive, so just follow the prompts to complete the installation. Once you insert a Rev disk, the drive should appear under My Computer and be ready to use. Obviously, installation processes and difficulty will vary, depending on which version of the Rev drive you choose. A basic, 11-page printed manual outlines the installation basics.

We have a couple of concerns with the Rev drive. First, beyond the expense of the drive itself, the cartridges are pricey--a 35GB/90GB cartridge will cost about $59.99 (though you receive one cartridge with the drive). Second, the cartridges are proprietary. Unlike CD or DVD media, which are quite standard and will work in countless CD/DVD drives, choosing the Rev incurs a single-source commitment to Iomega for both drives and cartridges. It's a potentially scary prospect for any small-business owner. On a brighter note, Iomega does bundle Automated Backup Pro software with the drive, so users can employ the Rev as a backup/disaster recovery drive if that's their priority. If you use ABP to create a system backup prior to a disaster, you can boot from the solutions CD and restore from the system recovery utility.

Once installed, the Rev drive behaves much like any other hard drive--offering quick performance that is roughly on a par with that of other internal hard drive products. Simple drag-and-drop file copying through Windows Explorer works smoothly, transferring about 1GB of files in just 50 seconds. Transferring the same files back to a standard ATAPI hard drive took about 45 seconds. Backups of the same file folders performed through Iomega's Automatic Backup Pro software took a little bit longer at 1:46, though enabling compression shaved that to 1:30. Your results may vary depending on your particular system hardware/software configuration.

Iomega supports the Rev Internal SATA drive with a standard one-year warranty (Rev disks are covered for five years). Toll-free telephone support is available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. Online users will find a wealth of support resources, including e-mail and live-chat support, FAQs, software and driver downloads, warranty information, and electronic documentation at Iomega's Web site.


Iomega Rev drive

Score Breakdown

Setup 6Features 6Performance 7Support 6