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HP Lends USB to Backup

HP is boosting its backup tape drive portfolio for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB), including the industry's first digital audio tape (DAT) USB tape drives.

As part of the company's Smart Office initiative, HP unveiled its StorageWorks DAT 72 and DAT 40 USB tape drives, which transfer data using the USB 2.0 interface.

Because the drives use the USB data transfer protocol, they do not require the SCSI setups and adapters associated with past DAT drives. This saves businesses the cost of buying extra gear, said HP product manager Troy Davis. Also, users can run the drives out of the box in less than a minute.

DAT, a type of magnetic tape that uses a scheme called helical scan to record data, is arguably the most popular backup formula, with over 15 million DAT drives shipped. There is also no performance loss: Both DAT SCSI and DAT USB drives move data at 6 megabytes per second.

"In the past, these 15 million DAT drives have been based on parallel SCSI, which requires more costly equipment to buy and cables and technical knowledge to set up and use," Davis said. "With USB, it's very plug-and-play, just like plugging in a mouse."

The DAT 72 USB, with 72GB on a single data cartridge, will be available July 11 for $749. The DAT 40 USB, with 40GB of data on a single cartridge, will cost businesses $599 when it goes on the market July 11.

Tape is cheaper than disk-based storage and is one of the most commonly used backup media formats.

However, with costs of disk storage dropping, it is increasingly hard for some vendors to sell customers on the good qualities of tape. In fact, some vendors grudgingly position tape as a medium used in information lifecycle management scenarios to back up less important data.

With the new launch, HP wants to ensure that it keeps ahead of competitors IBM, Quantum and ADIC, all of which are vying for larger pieces of the SMB pie for tape and disk-based storage.

HP unveiled additional new tape solutions to prop up its competitive attack. The new StorageWorks Ultrium 232 tape drive holds 200GB per cartridge and offers "superdrive features at a price affordable for SMB customers." The Ultrium 232 is available now for roughly $1,799.

HP Monday is also offering two new versions of its StorageWorks 1/8 Tape Autoloader. The Ultrium 960 and Ultrium 448 models may be mounted on racks to conserve floor space. The 960 holds 6.4 terabytes while the 448 holds or 3.2 TB.

The 960 Tape Autoloader is selling now for $7,499, while the 448 Tape Autoloader retails for $5,299.

The new drives feature a one-button disaster recovery utility, which allows users to emulate a CD-ROM booting. Users can boot from their tape and restore a complete operating system or server from the ground up.

Separately, EMC released an EMC Dantz Retrospect 7 update for Windows software for small and medium businesses. New enhancements include AES 256-bit encryption, support for Microsoft Windows x64 operating systems, and the ability to schedule grooming of disk backup.

Disk grooming helps customers increase disk utilization by deleting older backup data from a hard drive to make room for newer backups.