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Protecting Data - Part 4 - Tapes

Posted on May 15th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at backups and data protection. How do you backup your data, how is it best to store data to ensure you always have a copy at hand and how do you protect it when it’s off site.

Tapes – love them or hate them

Traditionally all backups would have been made to tapes and they still have their place when looking at backup strategies. Tapes have numerous benefits including:

  • Cheap Media – Tapes themselves are usually very well priced per MB.
  • High Capacity – Tapes offer huge capacities on high end drives.
  • Quick Speeds – The throughput of tapes can be very high indeed resulting in shorter backup windows.
  • Rugged – Tapes themselves tend to be pretty rugged in their design.

Until recently tapes represented the only really viable option for enterprise backup due to the large capacities and quick backup speeds. However, they are not without their problems:

  • Drives are expensive – Whilst the tapes are relatively cheap the drives themselves are often very expensive.
  • Prone to failure – Drives are mechanical so by their very nature are more prone to failure than solid state devices without moving parts.
  • Data scaling – Whilst tapes have grown in capacity, so has the data being backed up. High capacity tapes and drives are often out of reach of SMEs.
  • Require maintenance – Tape drives need regular cleaning to stay in good condition.

Because high capacity drives are expensive we often see clients with inadequately sized drives. This means that not all the data on a server can be backed up leading to cherry picking of data – a recipe for downtime or lost data should disaster actually strike.

Next Time – Tape alternatives

Because of the issues traditional tapes are quickly falling out of favour with SMEs. Next time we’ll be looking at some alternatives to tapes.

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