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The case against tape

Tapes have major disadvantages that disks no longer do. With current disk systems, you have capabilities that tape just can’t match. Still hanging on to that 30% (Verified by 5 or 6 different failure rate studies) failure rate out-of-the box for your tapes? Disks have only a 3-5% failure rate for the first 3 years of constant use. and for the next 5 after that it’s still maxed out at 12%. At the same age, you’re lucky if you only have a 60% failure rate on your tapes.

Disk systems are now even better than before, shock-resistant casings that withstand 12 foot drops on concrete. RAID5 hot-swap storage modules that give you redundancy that tapes can’t even dream of accomplishing. Lightning fast restore times. And when your 5-year old tapes begin to oxidize and lose data, your hermetically sealed Disks (yes, every one already is) will still be there ready to spin up upon your request. Besides, how many tapes dedupe anyway? On a single 2 TB Disk I can keep a full week’s backups for the entire city including all the incrementals.

Disk to Disk to Disk is the current Enterprise backup model. Even Iron Mountain uses redundant disks at multiple sites to save off it’s data and reserves tape only for it’s 5th or 6th tier of redundancy.

Companies like Hi Rely and others are steadily making disk backup systems competitively priced, making tapes a thing of the past.

In my opinion, based on years of experience and hard data from the current studies out there today, if you’re not using disk-based backups, your throwing away your money.

Before you scream price, there are low-cost hot swap solutions out there that will do the job just as cheaply as tape for small businesses too.

What do I use? Disk-to-Disk-to-Disk-to tape. Tape is still there, but it’s only a very last resort. 4 different recovery solutions have to fail before I head for the tape closet.

I find that fear of change has a bigger factor in why people refuse to let go of tape. A false feeling that tape, because it’s been around forever, should still be used even in the face overwhelming evidence that tape is significantly flawed as a long-term storage option.

It still floors me that even within the IT community, there are still people who believe that older technology is more stable because it’s been around longer… By all means, go back to your old 286 Desktop and have at it. I think Pong or space invaders might work on it. And while you’re at it, color flat screens are so overrated, go back to your 4-foot square green screens and see how AutoCAD handles it.

If you want to live in the dark ages and live in constant fear of losing it all, hold on to your tapes with every nostalgic bone in your body. The rest of us will rest easy knowing our data is truly safe and secure.

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