Tecmar Travan NS20 External SCSI Tape Drive

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail

Made by: Tecmar Technologies, go to the web site
Requires: SCSI connection, backup software (NovaNet Backup version 7, Seagate Backup Exec, NT Backup, Tecmar's ditto tools, etc.)
MSRP: US$649 (internal), US$769 (external)

(Ed. Note: reviewed in 1999. This is a follow-up - long term test results)

The original Tecmar Travan NS20 review was published a few months before this follow up and is available on the web site here. We originally tested the Tecmar Travan NS20 External SCSI tape drive unit over a period of 10 days. This follow-up review was assembled after 3 months of continuous testing under some very stringent conditions.

Tecmar's market positioning of the new Travan NS (network series) 20GB tape drives hasn't changed since the original review. The drives have the highest capacity and fastest transfer rates of any Travan drives available. Delivering 20GB of compressed capacity at a transfer rate of more than 2MB per second, the new drives are aimed at the popular, fast growing class of Windows NT servers and workstations.

During the 12 week follow-up period we used the Travan NS20 to perform 3-a-week incremental server backups of approximately 8GB each. Using 9 Imation Travan NS20GB tapes we created a rotating series of three generations of uncompressed backup sets. At the end of each week (12:00 A.M. every Sunday), a full 16-20GB compressed backup was performed on the same document server. The weekly backup was the one we archived off-site.

The drive was connected through an Adaptec 2940UW SCSI adapter to one of our primary research document file servers - a dual Pentium II 350MHz machine with 500MB of RAM, running Windows NT 4.0 (SP4). We accessed the drive via Seagate Backup Exec (which is bundled with the drive Travan NS20) and alternately with NT Backup which is integrated with Windows NT Server.

The Tecmar Travan NS20 is targeted primarily at Networking VARs and System Integrators who are building or configuring PC servers running Microsoft Windows NT. Windows NT servers are an economical and reliable new choice for small offices and departmental networks. As the average cost of these entry level servers is scaled down, higher priced 4mm and 8mm storage solutions become less affordable and therefore less acceptable. The need for a low cost, high performance solution is clear, and Tecmar believes the NS20 is 'it'. Obviously, a busy research office with an NT network can also make extremely good use of this drive. We also recommend the Tecmar Travan NS20 drive as a backup solution for busy graphics agency network servers running NT, and most other small to medium-sized NT network servers.

Cons: As in the original review, we couldn't find much wrong with the drive. As usual with tape drives of all kinds, the tape setup, positioning, and alignment contortions performed automatically whenever you load a new tape, take far too long. Our original intention was to do this long-term test using NovaNet Backup 7. Unfortunately, our IS manager (Jack Reikel, who helped out with the original NovaNet Backup and Travan NS20 testing) did not have enough time to install NovaNet Backup on the active Proton Research Network in the time since the software was reviewed earlier this year in CompuNotes (issue #149, April 25, 1999). Since nothing goes onto the active Proton Research network until it's fully tested, we'll try to bring you a follow-up after installing NovaNet Backup 7 on the active Proton network later this year.

Pros: As Tecmar's ads state, 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 combinations of Seagate Backup Exec or NT Backup and the Tecmar Travan NS20 are excellent. We're big fans of SCSI drives and we originally rated this backup powerhouse at the top of our list. We're pleased to report that it also appears to take a terrific beating over longer periods of time, performs high-speed backups as reliably as anything on the market, and should become a network standard if Tecmar pushes it hard enough. Highly recommended.

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