Addressing concerns about data backup and restore speed of tape

Common criticisms about tape backup focus on moving data onto tape and then getting data off tape during a restore process. But Jon Toigo, president of Toigo Partners International, argues that in some cases, tape remains a good option to consider.

"Everybody always says, 'We got way too much data and the restore timeframe off data is too slow -- it's about a terabyte an hour. Is that too slow?' Well, think about it -- if you got a lot of data and you have to restore it fast, yeah, it might be. What's the speed of the interconnect between the devices? That's a factor. These are all common-sense things," Toigo told his Storage Decisions audience.

Toigo said that compression can lead to delays in restoring data from tape because data has to be decompressed before it can be used; plus, for the right kinds of data, tape can be a better option than other storage types.

"If you're doing long-block files -- media, genetic research data, stuff that's [really] long files -- you get it back faster off of tape, in any case, than you will off a disk array," Toigo said, who noted that the use of disk-to-disk-to-tape backup -- which places writes on disk before moving them to tape -- allows for quicker restores of individual files when needed.

He said that tape has several benefits, since it provides an "air gap" for data so that things that happen in the environment don't affect the data stored on tape. He said that it can back up data from one vendor's rig and restore that data to equipment from another manufacturer, and that the media itself is portable. Toigo also noted that the growth rates of tape should lead to tape cartridges with 32 TB of capacity or higher, all within small form factors.

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