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Iomega to ship 35Gybte portable drive

Iomega is developing a way for computer users to take their hard discs on the road.

The US-based storage company, best known for its Zip and Jaz drives, announced plans on 12 August to begin shipping a new type of storage technology called Removable Rigid Disk (RRD) system.

RRDs will be based on commodity hard drive components but will feature a special drive cartridge that can be used to insert the disc in a special drive and remove it. The discs are expected to have a capacity of 35Gbytes.

Hard discs are not usually removed from their storage cases because they are extremely sensitive to contamination, but Iomega has developed disc cleaning and dust-prevention technologies that allow the 2.5-inch discs to be moved from a special RRD hard drive to the RRD cartridge without being corrupted.

"We are using off-the-shelf hard disc drive technology... but we are putting it together in a unique way that allows the cartridge to be pulled out and sealed," said Iomega product manager Bob Lutz.

Iomega has developed an air lock, an air filtration system and an automatic head cleaning mechanism to help prevent data corruption. The company has also developed a special error correction mechanism that can be used in addition to the standard error correction already performed on hard drives.

The RRD system will ship with an enhanced version of Iomega's backup software that will be able to perform data compression and encryption. The software will also be able to copy system images on to the RRD drive, which will allow users to back up the entire operating system and not just individual files.

"If your hard drive crashes, you can reboot your system from the drive," Lutz said.

Iomega will begin shipping a Windows client version of the RRD in the first quarter of 2004 and will begin selling a server version for Windows and Linux two months later, Lutz said. An external version of the product that will connect to any Windows computer with a USB 2.0 connection will be available in retail stores. Iomega expected a variety of computer makers to ship an internally installed RRD system as well, the company said.

The product will be available through retail and original equipment manufacturer suppliers, he said.

The pricing and brand name of the RRD drives will be announced some time around the Comdex trade show in November, Lutz said. A RRD system with software will cost between $350 (£215) and $500, he predicted.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service


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