The Pereos tape-backup system proves that good things come in small packages

by Richard Anders

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Here's a riddle: It has no weight or size and makes no sound. You can split it as much as you want and still have it all. Losing it can destroy a business. What is it?


There's a single answer to this riddle. But there are any number of answers to the question of how to keep information safe. Now Datasonix (Boulder, Colo., 800-328-2779) has come up with a superefficient way to do just that. The company's Pereos, a new kind of portable tape-backup system, holds up to a gigabyte of data on a cartridge the size of a piece of bubble gum. At a cost of $499, this mobile data-storage system is an elegant way to store large amounts of information in a small space. Think of it: you could carry your company's entire database around in your coat pocket.

One of the books we publish at Andiron Press is a consumer's guidebook to CD-ROMs for the home market. We have to maintain a large database for it with information about thousands of current titles and product specifications. New titles appear every day, so we're constantly updating the information. If anything were to happen to that database, we would be out of business. The Pereos system, which weighs in at less than 10 ounces, allows us to store all the data safely in a very small space and to move it easily among PCs and laptops.

The system comprises two main parts: a tape drive and a detachable base unit that plugs into a parallel port. Its tape-management software has a standard Windows interface and includes a Fuzzy Find feature. Say you're looking for a file whose name you can't remember but that you know deals with contracts. You simply type the word contract, and the software searches for file names with a similar letter sequence.

The biggest problem with the system may be the small cartridges. At around $30 each, they're not cheap, and on a cluttered desk they're practically invisible. Still, they're what give the system not just its usefulness but its charm. In the spirit of complete portability, you can use the two AA batteries (included with the package) when you travel. (It also comes with an AC power adapter.) When you can't decide which presentation to take to the conference, the Pereos lets you take them all.

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Richard Anders ( is president of Andiron Press, a publisher of multimedia in Brookline, Mass.