Interpreter TapeXchange 300TX Tape Backup. (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford
Discriminating users looking for what may well be the ultimate in external, portable tape backup units would do well to turn their attention to the sleek TapeXchange 30OTX Tape Backup from Interpreter.
This unit combines form and function by putting blazing performance in a package that's easy to carry (and look at). The 30OTX is lightning fast, not only in its backup and restore times, but also in its installation time: under five minutes for both the hardware and software phases.
Once the software installation is complete, several read/write tests are automatically performed by the software to ensure that all of the connections are solid. These tests take about four or five minutes to complete, but they're good insurance because the data transfers in both directions will be at speeds up to 10MB per minute, depending on your CPU speed and use of data compression. These safety checks are exactly what you'd expect from a high-quality, high-performance product like this.
Calling the 30OTX a screamer is a good way to describe both its performance and its noise level. Make no mistake about it: This is a noisy drive. In operation, it emanates a high-pitched sound throughout the entire backup or restore operations. However, this noise doesn't usually last too long, thanks to the drive's high speed.
The 30OTX also gives you a choice of the type of media you can use: cassette, QIC cartridge, or DAT. If you elect to use DAT cartridges, you can store up to four gigabytes per tape.
A backup can be instituted and underway in well under a minute with just a couple of menu selections. For example, using the preassigned default values, to do a complete backup of the entire hard drive, all you do is select Full Backup, choose Overwrite, and hit Return. Full override of all default options is possible, of course.
The user manual is adequate in its coverage of the hardware installation (two paragraphs are sufficient for covering it, since it only entails plugging the drive into the parallel port and attaching the power adapter to the 30OTX). The portion devoted to using the software is also adequate, augmented by screen shots of important sections and full explanations of possible error messages within the pages. No mention of Windows can be found anywhere in the manual--or anywhere in the package, for that matter--so all activity connected with the drive takes place from the DOS prompt.
The 30OTX has a built-in carrying handle for easy transportation. This feature, combined with its external connection via the PC's parallel port, makes it ideal for office settings where several PCs need to be backed up on a regular basis. It's also a most serviceable and convenient way of transporting large blocks of data from one PC to another without having to rely on floppies. This drive's real ace in the hole, however, is its speed. During a full backup of the 250MB hard disk on the 486/33 1 used for the review, the 30OTX reached a transfer rate of more than 6MB per minute.
If speed and portability are the name of the game for you and you don't mind some noise, the Interpreter TapeXchange 30OTX Tape Backup might be just what you're looking for.