Colorado Memory Systems Jumbo Trakker 250. (tape drive) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by David English
I needed help. I was using a 200MB hard drive with Stacker 3.0, so I had over 300MB of programs and data to back up.
Norton Backup for Windows told me I needed 187 high-density 3 1/2-inch disks to back it all up. To top it off, my computer, a portable Toshiba T6400, had only one slot, which I didn't want to devote to an interface card for a tape backup system.
Fortunately, several manufacturers make parallel-port tape backup drives, including Colorado Memory Systems, a company with a reputation for selling quality tape drives at affordable prices. I looked at the Jumbo Trakker 250. It should work with any PC that has a parallel port, including notebook, laptop, and desktop computers.
As you might expect, the parallel-port tape drives are somewhat slower than standard internal or external tape drives. A 33-MHz 80386 can back up 10MB in roughly three minutes with a Jumbo Trakker: it takes roughly two minutes with a standard tape drive. The slower speed isn't a problem in most cases, as you can get the system going and come back to it when it's finished. if your computer has a bidirectional parallel port, you can pick up some extra speed. (I wasn't able to get this setting to work with the T6400; Colorado Memory Systems is currently working on a fix). And if you have an EPP (Enhanced Parallel Port) on your system, the Trakker can actually move data as fast as a standard tape drive.
The Jumbo Trakker comes in two models: the 120 (a 120MB system for $448) and the 250 (a 250MB system for $548). These capacities are based on data compression, so you may get more or less than this amount on a single tape.
If you have additional data to back up, the software will prompt you to insert additional tapes. Both models use standard DC-2000 minicartridges and QIC formatting and provide a parallel-port pass-through for your printer.
The DOS-based software is easy to use and well documented. The Windows software wasn't ready in time for this review, but it should allow you to run other programs while you're performing a backup.
Overall, I like the Trakker 250 very much. If you have a notebook or laptop, it's your best solution for backing up a medium to large drive.
And if you have more than one PC and don't mind the slower speed, you can use the Trakker on all your PC-compatible systems by installing the software on each and moving the drive from machine to machine.