Iomega has joined the backup-to-disk fray with REV, a 35GB removable disk cartridge system. The high capacity is achieved by sealing the read/write head and a motor are inside. The cartridge is inserted into a receiving unit which provides power and either a USB or ATAPI interface.

If you are using DDS backup tapes at present then the REV drive offers faster speed. It can be used for both backup of small server or desktop data, and archiving of large files.

Werner Heid, CEO and president of Iomega, said: "Tape is a relatively fragile, slow and expensive linear-access technology." He said that the REV drive is up to eight times faster than tape with a sustained data rate of 25Mbit/s. It is smaller than a pack of cards, making it pocket storage.

Iomega claims that REV's error rate is three times better than existing sealed hard drives. There is a virtual 'clean room' environment inside the cartridge due to an air-filtration system. The read/write heads also have automatic cleaning. Shelf life should exceed 30 years, according to Iomega.

The speed and data security could appeal strongly to users of laptop and departmental/branch office desktop computers not currently backed up because tape systems are too inconvenient and slow. REV drives can also be made bootable, thus securing laptop or desktop systems against hard drive failure.

The REV drive is faster than DDS-4, DAT-72, VXA, AIT-1 and VS80 tape drives and also cheaper. The drive costs £238 (ex-VAT) for the USB version, £229 (ex-VAT) for the ATAPI version, with catridges costing £39 (ex-VAT).

Autoloaders using the REV drive are planned and these could be used for automated backup of a couple of week's data on a host system.