Travan NS20 External SCSI Tape Drive
Reviewed by: Howard
by: Tecmar Technologies, go
to the web site
connection, backup software (NovaNet Backup version 7,
Seagate Backup Exec, NT Backup, etc.)
(internal), US$769 (external)
(Ed. Note: reviewed in 1999. The follow-up review containing
long term test results on this drive can be found on the web
Since 1982, Tecmar Technologies has been a pioneer in the
DC6000 data cartridge and 4mm DAT tape industry. Tecmar developed
products under the Wangtek(tm), WangDAT(R), Proline(R) and
QualityTape(tm) brands. Tecmar's new Travan NS (network series)
20 GB tape drives have the highest capacity and fastest transfer
rates of any Travan drives available. Delivering 20 gigabytes
of compressed capacity at a transfer rate of more than 2
megabytes per second, the new drives are aimed at the popular,
fast growing class of Windows NT servers and workstations.
We tested the Tecmar Travan NS20 External SCSI unit over
a period of 10 days. We did four daily backups of approximately
16GB each. Using 12 Imation Travan NS, 20GB tapes we created
a rotating series of four generations of backup sets. The
drive was connected through an Adaptec 2940 SCSI adapter
to one of our secondary file servers - a dual Pentium II
350MHz machine with 256MB of RAM, running Windows NT 4.0
(SP4). We accessed the drive via three pieces of software:
NovaNet Backup version 7, Seagate Backup Exec (which is bundled
with the drive), and NT Backup which is integrated with Windows
Before putting the drive into full service, we performed
some full read/write backup operations on fixed size directories,
to get an idea of exactly how long actual backups would take.
The results were impressive. We used five different test
directories, performed 5 backups on each one, and cycled
each directory through 3 different combinations of backup
settings (A, B, and C below):
# of Files
# of Subdirectories
Amt of Data
Here are the weighted test results:
A - full directory read, compression, data write, full
write verification, drive spin down, and tape eject. The
weighted data backup rate ranged from 103.7KB/second in test
1 up to 1.4MB/sec in test 5.
full directory read, compression, data write, drive spin
down, tape eject,
no write verification (see the "read-while-write" recording
feature description below). The weighted data rate ranged
from 391.8KB/sec in test 1 up to a 1.7MB/sec in test 5.
C - full directory read, data write, drive spin down, tape
eject, no write verification, no compression. The weighted
data rate ranged from 301.2KB/sec in test 1 up to 1.2MB/sec
in test 5, obviously slower than the compressed rate.
Conclusions - as overall data sizes increased, weighted
backup times improved dramatically. In other words, these
drives are designed to backup huge amounts of compressed
data, very quickly. Compare top quality DLT backup drives
which provide a weighted rate of 1.6MB/sec.
Note - actual continuous throughput 5 seconds into the
write procedure in two of the compressed tests hit nearly
2.1MB/second (which exceeds Tecmar's published rating for
the drive - very impressive). The high rates occurred when
doing throughput of video files (40MB-65MB AVIs).
Travan NS industry standard ALDC hardware data compression
improves the interchange of compressed data, adds an additional
level of redundancy and improves overall system performance.
The read-while-write data recording feature, an technique
pioneered by Tecmar, eliminates the need for a full verification
pass, which significantly reduces total backup time. When
you add compression to the whole scheme, impressive backup
speeds can be achieved.
Travan NS uses linear recording technology as used by DC6000
data cartridges and DLT technology. According to the technical
description, data tracks are recorded in serpentine fashion,
which is supposed to require fewer moving parts, thereby
increasing overall reliability. The drive uses Imation's
NS tape mini-cartridges. Imation licenses the NS trademark
to products that use read-while-write data recording and
hardware data compression.
If you're looking for more specs to compare, the following
should help. The drive boasts a 250,000 hour MTBF (Mean Time
Before Failure which in this case indicates an very long
service life), 20% duty cycle (heavy-duty usage), SCSI and
ATAPI interfaces, search/rewind speed of 110 inches per second,
transfer rates of 1MB/sec uncompressed, 2MB/sec compressed,
and a capacity of 10GB uncompressed and 20GB compressed.
The drive is accessible with a lot of different backup software.
Check the Tecmar Web site for complete, regularly updated
In the NS20, Tecmar has introduced NSync(tm) soft loading
technology, which adds many of the same security and reliability
enhancing features used by high-end tape drives. It's also
the first Travan NS drive that loads the cartridge completely
into the drive. The metal cartridge deck (the baseplate of
the cartridge) provides more precise positioning in the drive
mechanism, and dissipates more heat than other configurations.
In addition, full registration of the cartridge reduces track
offsets and electrostatic discharge from the cartridge base
plate. Data security is also increased with TapeAlert diagnostics,
proprietary extended diagnostics and locking manual eject.
Data recovery is reportedly enhanced by patented Redundant
Read technology, which defaults to a secondary read channel
if the primary channel fails, and by automatically updating
the tape directory upon eject (we believe it, but we hope
never to have to make use of it!)
Cons: We couldn't find anything wrong with the drive. We've
now begun some long-term testing/usage with NovaNet Backup
version 7 driving the Tecmar Travan NS20 and we'll report
back to CompuNotes in a follow-up review.
Pros: The Tecmar Travan NS20 provides much needed price
and performance benchmarks for the extremely fast growing
Windows NT server market, and proves it by operating at the
same speed as pricey, top quality, high capacity (70GB) DLT
drives. The drive is well-made, operates quietly, and treats
NS20 tapes with great care. The initial combinations of NovaStor's
NovaNet Backup version 7, Seagate Backup Exec, or NT Backup
and the Tecmar Travan NS20 are excellent. We're big fans
of SCSI drives and we rate this backup powerhouse at the
top of our list.
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