Imation DataGuard T5R – Good Choice For Off-Site Backups

10/19/2012 3:30:40 PM

Imation's new NAS appliance delivers good speeds and includes an integrated RDX drive for off-site backups

Imation is moving in a new direction with its DataGuard NAS appliances, as it responds to the global slowdown in tape and optical media sales. In this exclusive review we examine the entry-level desktop DataGuard T5R, which the company claims is the world’s first appliance with an integrated RDX cartridge hard disk backup drive.

Description: The T5R's RDX drive is useful for off-site backups

The T5R's RDX drive is useful for off-site backups

Backup is a priority: along with the RDX drive, the T5R supports local backup, replication and a range of cloud storage providers. Amazon’s S3 and Dropbox are supported and it can also back up shares to OpenStack providers.

The appliance is well built, and contains a 2.13GHz Intel Atom D2700 and 2GB of RAM. Along with a pair of Gigabit ports, there are two USB 3, three USB 2 and one eSATA port.

The price here is for a diskless unit, and for testing we loaded up five 1TB Western Digital Enterprise SATA II drives. The web interface offers a one-click setup routine, but if you want to create iSCSI targets then it’s best not to use this.

The wizard groups all drives into a single storage pool and creates one RAID5 logical drive for NAS use only. If you want NAS shares and iSCSI targets, logical drives must be created manually; you then choose a RAID array plus a size, and select either NAS or IP SAN operations.

Snapshots are supported on NAS shares and you must ensure that space is left for them when creating your logical drive. Snapshots can be run manually or to a regular daily and weekly schedule, and recovery is a simple two-click operation.

Workstation backup software isn’t included, but the T5R offers plenty of other backup options. You can create jobs that secure selected shares to external USB or eSATA devices, and replicate them to another DataGuard appliance.

The T5R delivered impressive speeds in our real-world tests. Copying a 2.52GB video clip between the appliance and a Dell PowerEdge R515 system running Windows Server 2008 R2 saw high read and write speeds of 98MB/sec and 93MB/sec. FTP speeds were in the same ballpark at 106GB/sec and 90MB/sec. General backup operations are fast as well: a 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files was copied to a share at a rate of 59MB/sec.

For IP SANs, the T5R presents one portal, so all targets will be shown to any logged-in initiator. The T5R kept up the pace, with Iometer reporting top read and write rates for a 100GB target of 112MB/sec and 91MB/sec.

Description: Imation DataGuard T5R

For the RDX drive, you create special backup jobs that copy all selected shares to it. Performance isn’t great: backing up a 20.5GB folder with 10,000 files returned only 15MB/sec. Restore speeds were quicker, returning the folder to the NAS share at an average of 32MB/sec.

You can also restore to a new folder, overwrite an existing folder of the same name, or synchronise the two. Since the RDX drive is NTFS-formatted, if you have an RDX dock in another system you can pop in the cartridge and drag and drop to restore data.

With Qnap’s TS-559 Pro II appliance costing around $840, the DataGuard T5R looks pricey. However, it holds its own for performance, and the integrated RDX drive leaves no excuses for not using off-site backups.

Key specs

Price: $1,448

Desktop chassis

2.13GHz Intel Atom D2700


5 x hot-swap SATA II drive bays

Supports RAIDO, 1, 1E, 3, 5, 6, 10

Internal SATA RDX drive

2 x USB 3

3 x USB 2


2 x Gigabit Ethernet

Internal power supply

1yr RTB warranty


Performance: 5/6

Features & Design: 5/6

Value for money: 4/6

Overall: 5/6


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