Hospital Loses Backup Data Tapes

Hospital Loses Backup Data Tapes

By Chris Brunau

A Boston-area hospital has lost track of four unencrypted backup tapes holding patient information.

According to the Boston Globe, the information of about 12,600 people from McLean Hospital is unaccounted for and possibly at risk.

Not only is this data not backed up digitally, but it is now at risk of falling victim to theft.

McLean says they have no reason to believe the information has been accessed or improperly used because “it would take specialized software, equipment, and technical expertise in order to access the information on tapes.”

That’s not exactly the most reassuring answer, knowing that thousands of patients’ health records, personal information, and social security numbers could be compromised.

This brings us back to the debate over tapes, and the misconception they are cheaper and still a good technology.

Basically, it’s time to move on from an extremely outdated technology. Sometimes it’s hard to break an old habit, but here’s a little information to encourage a switch, or to reencourage you if you have recently given up tape.

  • Tapes require human interaction. Changing out tapes and taking them offsite for safe keeping, this opens up a little too much room for human error. Considering that’s one of the main threats of downtime, it seems like a bad mix.
  • Reduced frequency of backups. Customarily, tapes are backed up once a night, when you’re outside of regular business hours. Considering many Datto partners schedule backups every half hour, you’re setting yourself up for too many problems if you only do a nightly tape backup.
  • Proof and quality of backup. With tape backups, forget Screenshot Backup Verification™ or an email alert to inform you of a successful backup. You may not know if the backup was successful until you actually have to retrieve the data, and by then it would be too late.  Also, relying on a physical tape allows for too much room for error and corruption, opening yourself up to the possibility of losing your backup all together.
  • Timeliness. Good luck getting your business back up in 6 seconds, like with hybrid cloud technology through Datto. Tape restore can take hours, days or even weeks when it comes to recovery time.

While tapes may be cheap up front, it’s hardly cheaper in the long run. When you factor in the human interaction, storage, and other variables, the cost can quickly add up. Not to mention a potential PR nightmare.


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