Exabyte VXA-320

This autoloading tape changer provides easy backups, more choices for type of tape and fewer moving parts, making this a good investment for SMBs.

November 4, 2005

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Setting up the autoloader was simple. It comes with everything you need to connect it to your target machine except a SCSI card. We dug one up with the correct connector size, popped it into a dual-processor Intel machine running Windows 2003 and then played with drivers.

I ran into an interesting problem: Windows 2003 wouldn't let me install drivers, but then most tape drives don't require drivers. So I rebooted the machine for cleanliness and ran Yosemite. My tape changer showed up, correctly identified and ready to go.

Yosemite lets you rotate tapes in the autoloader. I tested this by identifying and formatting them in the VXA-320 PacketLoader and then setting a schedule to use the three smaller tapes Exabyte provided for daily backups and the one included larger tape for weekly backups. It worked without a glitch.


• Affordable price• High-density tapes• Easy to use


• No bundled backup software

VXA-320 PacketLoader 1x10 1U, $2,999. Exabyte, (800) EXABYTE, (303) 442-4333. www.exabyte.com

Lickety Split

The VXA-320 PacketLoader backed up 22,500 objects comprising 6 GB of data in 8 minutes--pretty darn fast, considering drive time and software time. At those rates, it would take 5.5 hours to back up 250 GB of data--not unreasonable for the once-a-month complete backups SMBs require.

Verification of written data took one and a half times longer than the initial writing to the tape. Be sure to factor that in when you estimate how long a job might take. Many SMBs don't run verification because it takes longer, but that's a poor business decision. Budget the time--it won't cost you a dime.

The PacketLoader's command-line tool is great for troubleshooting. It identifies all Exabyte drives on the SCSI chain, sees the status of each, ejects tapes and queries devices.You can manage tape changes through the control pad and LED on the front of the unit. Autoloading makes it simple to trade out tapes using a rotating disk in a 1U enclosure with a standard VXA-320 drive in the back--an elegant system with fewer moving parts to break down.

Restore and Rotate

In all of my tests, the VXA-320 PacketLoader restores were rapid and accurate. I deleted entire data directories from a local drive and restored them in just under 1 MB per minute. I used the command-line tool to verify that the restore was successful.

One problem all SMBs face is tape rotation. Getting them in and out of the building on a daily basis is often a burden. With a 10-tape changer, you can set a rotation of eight weekly backups with one monthly full backup and only have to change tapes once a month. The drive's media has enough capacity that you might be able to leave it for two runs, depending on how much data you're backing up and the size of the tape you put into it.

Overall, the VXA-320 PacketLoader 1U is a bargain, with sufficient capacity to keep up with storage growth and enough performance to make the added capacity useful.Don MacVittie is a senior technology editor at Network Computing. Write to him at [email protected].

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights