Letter to the editor: Is tape dead?

The editors of SearchDataBackup.com received this letter from a reader in response to our article How to get the most out of your data backup tapes: Caring for magnetic media.

Tape is dead, or should be.

Hard disk real estate is cheaper than tape. If anyone still made a 60 GB drive, it would cost $30. A hard disk exactly that, a hard disk -- not a flat strand of plastic with your company's most vital data.

Hard disks are not as portable -- yes, they are

Hard disks are not only cheap and fast, but have been hot-swappable for quite some time. Changing the destination of an existing backup job shouldn't be a big deal. After the backup job is complete, remove drive, take it home and put it in wall safe. Or whatever you would do with the tape.

I can't ship the drive to our off-site location -- Why not? Or, why bother?

Many upscale ISPs will give you bandwidth on a per-need basis for a small fee. For example: You have 10 GB to backup to tape, then ship the tape to an off-site location (worst-case scenario)

Call your ISP (or find one that will provide this service), reserve an OC-12 between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning, on the first Sunday of every month.

Back up local disk to remote disk, over the wire (pick your encryption method)

You're only billed for the higher bandwidth while you're using it, then you go back to your normal speed

Your data is safely backed up at your remote location and FedEx could never deliver a tape that fast.

This simply requires a BCP agreement between you and the ISP of your choosing, in the case of a restore, they need to open that window for you manually (hopefully with scripting for consistency) and bill you (again) only for the time used.

It's a beautiful thing when it works as planned. It's faster, more resilient, and the additional cost of the ISP service is put back in your pocket by way of not wasting the money on an archaic method like tape.


This was first published in February 2009

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