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When is disk better than tape?

What reasons, if any, do you see for going with disk-based backup over tape?

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I prefer tape as a method of backup, for a variety of reasons, from cost to reliability, but with that being said there are many reasons that hard drives are gaining popularity over tape. The reasons will vary across the wide array of users/companies in the marketplace. Many users like the ability to backup their data without having to use another application (they can simply drag-and-drop). Others prefer the ability to make an exact copy of the drive (a mirror image) so that if their original drive fails, they have a bootable copy that only needs to be plugged in and powered on. I think that the biggest benefit to using hard drives over tapes, is the speed factor. In many configurations, your data is being backed up as soon as you save it. But even in that type of scenario, I would still recommend using both a tape and a disk-based backup. It is much easier to make a year-end copy of your data to tape, and store that in a safe spot, than it is to have to down your backup server, take out the drives, install new drives, reconfigure everything, etc.

This was first published in February 2005

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