valuable data is one of the most frustrating and distressing situations
one can encounter, especially when one-of-a-kind data is lost. Even with
daily scheduled backups, you can't protect information from
your last back up should a drive fail. The Newer Technology Guardian MAXimus
(sold by Other World Computing) addresses this issue with a RAID
Level-1 (Mirrored) storage
system that provides a fully redundant data image of your important content
by writing all data simultaneously to two hard drives. The unit can be pre-configured
with a pair of lightning fast SATA (Type I/II) drives with up to 4.0TB
each of storage capacity. Enclosure only kits are also available, so users
can add their own drives based on their personal preferences. The unit
we received (NWTGM3Q7H20T128) is listed at $ 389.99 and holds two identical
2TB, 3.5-inch, 7200 RPM Seagate Barracuda SATA drives. The Guardian
MAXimus comes pre-formatted using the MAC OS HFS+ file system on
a GUID drive partition. If you plan to use this on a WIndows-based machine
then the Guardian MAXimus needs to be re-partitioned and formatted
using the Window's Disc Management tools.
The Guardian MAXimus measures 8.75" x 4.5" x 1.5" (LxWxH) and weighs just under 5 pounds. The package includes a universal power adapter (100-240V) and USB 3.0, eSATA, 1394A (FireWire 400), and 1394B (FireWire 800) cables. A User's Guide and Owner's Manual are also provided along with a software CD bundle.
The front of the Guardian MAXimus has a large perforated metal cover with four indicators on the front panel. The Power LED illuminates when the unit is on. The HDD1 and HDD2 lights are normally off when idle and illuminate green when the corresponding drive is being written to. Should a drive fail, the corresponding drive light will illuminate red while the Guardian MAXimus automatically and seamlessly continues data read/write functions with the remaining drive. In the event of a drive failure, the good drive must be installed as HDD1 (the drive that attaches to the bridge card) and the new replacement drive needs to be installed as HDD2 (the drive that attaches to the SATA cable). The data can then be mirrored to the new drive.
The Guardian MAXimus is built around a Custom Oxford
946DSE/3100 Integrated Chipset that provides several high speed interfaces
for maximum drive performance. Two FireWire800 ports and one FireWire400
port are available. A high speed USB 3.0 port and eSATA interface are also
provided to give users the ultimate selection in high speed connectivity
with rates as high as 500MB per second. The universal AC power adapter
(100-240VAC, 50/60 Hz) provides 12V at 2 amps and plugs into the unit
through the input power jack. The main power switch is located right next
to the power jack. There is also a built-in fan that pulls cool air in
from the front and pushes it out the back to keep the internal drives
and electronics cool. This is especially important as the internal hard
drives can generate considerable heat and having two heat generating drives
right next to each other makes the issue even more important. Fortunately,
the unit operated at reasonable temperatures, never giving us any concern
about over-heating. For security, there is a Kensington security slot
to attach a security cable to help prevent theft.
Advantages of RAID Level-1
The Guardian MAXimus design uses two matched drives of equal
size, with data being written redundantly to both drives simultaneously.
Should one drive fail softly, the data structures can be rebuilt from
the other drive. On a hard failure (or crash), the bad drive can be physically
replaced, then rebuilt from the good data on the other drive. This ensures
a high level of data redundancy.
The Guardian MAXimus performance was tested on a Vista-based
HP d5000t desktop with a Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor and 3GB of RAM. We
recently installed a USB 3.0 PCI-Express card with an NEC chipset for
testing some of the newer products featuring this capability. Using large
files to transfer data to the drive, we measured performance using both
USB 2.0 (built-in) and USB 3.0 interface. Even though USB 3.0 is capable
of transferring data 10 times faster than USB 2.0, other factors play
into the overall performance and the difference in average speed is typically
The Newer Technology Guardian MAXimus RAID-1 storage system
provided the insurance of a fully redundant hard drive system with a myriad
of high speed interfaces for today's power user. The flexibility
of this storage unit makes it ideal for simple and high performance applications
and the build quality is impressive at keeping the hard drives cool and reliable.
USB 3.0 capability gives this unit a high speed advantage while staying compatible
with legacy high speed interfaces.