Quantum's ValueLoader aims to give small businesses and remote offices their first taste of automated backup with a desktop sized autoloader that the company reckons is priced similarly to a standalone tape drive. With a top compressed capacity of 1.6TB it looks to deliver a decent level of storage. The system is offered with VS80, VS160 or Ultrium LTO tape drives with the latter supplied to us for review. Price-wise Quantum is being extremely optimistic if it thinks it can compete with equivalent single tape drives. The price for the LTO-1 version is over twice that of a single drive. Note that the VS160 version was not available at the time of review and the ValueLoader does not support later generations of LTO. The slim-line 2U chassis is well built and uses an internal carousel system that is very similar to Sony's beautifully designed StorStation LIB-162. However, whereas the LIB-162 offers eight dual-tape slots and options for two AIT-3 tape drives, the larger VS and LTO media and drives means the ValueLoader only has room for eight single-tape slots on its carousel and one internal tape drive in the centre. A barcode reader is also available as an optional extra and is installed at the rear by removing a small panel and connecting the assembly where it protrudes from the back. As with ADIC's superb Scalar 24 desktop autoloader, the ValueLoader comes with an LCD status screen and a row of control buttons for accessing a simple menu system. From here, you can see which slots are occupied, import and export cartridges via the loading bay in the centre of the front panel and configure areas such as the medium changer and tape drive SCSI IDs. You can also initiate a full inventory, load a cleaning cartridge, run diagnostics and even upgrade firmware from a special update tape. Easy installation
Conducting testing on a Windows Server 2003 system, installation was simple enough. We had the ValueLoader up and running in a few minutes using Computer Associates ARCserve for Windows 9, Veritas Backup Exec for Windows Servers 9, Dantz Retrospect 6.5 and BakBone NetVault 7 to test for compatibility. While ARCserve, Retrospect and NetVault identified the device correctly on first contact, Backup Exec required a patch and the latest driver file applied before it would recognize the medium changer but it then allowed us to split up the autoloader slots into multiple, virtual partitions. It's also worth noting that the majority of network backup products come with support as standard for a single drive autoloader so no extra software costs should be incurred. Initially, the ValueLoader looks a good choice for small businesses looking to automate their backup processes but the asking price is comparatively high. ADIC has advised that the promotional price of £5,300 for the Scalar 24 is open until October 2003 so why not invest an extra £300 and get its far superior tape drive support, improved upgrade potential and greater storage capacity?

OUR VERDICT

A good starting point for automated backup but if you really want the best value for your money and superior upgrade potential then check out the Scalar 24 first as ADIC is currently offering a far more tempting proposition.