September 22, 2015

The Trouble With Tape Backup

By Chris Brunau

With the abundant amount of features available in the backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity market, it’s hard to believe tape is still being used as a backup option.

The majority of companies aren’t storing their backup data on tape but it’s surprising how often this antiquated technology is still being used. In a Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery survey conducted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, the results showed that about half of the survey respondents had 18 percent of their organization’s backup data stored on tape at some point during the data’s lifecycle

As we’ve highlighted in the past, tape is an outdated technology for backup, so these organizations may be asking for trouble.

The issues with tape backup include: the need for human interaction, the reduced frequency of backups, the lack of proof and quality of backups, and timeliness.

Tapes require human interaction. Changing out tapes and taking them offsite for safekeeping means there is too much room for human error. Considering that’s one of the main threats of downtime, it seems like a bad idea.

Reduced frequency of backups. Customarily, tapes are backed up once a night, when you’re outside of regular business hours. Considering many organizations schedule backups every half hour, you may be setting yourself up for 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.

Still not convinced? Take a look at some stats on the state of tape backup compiled by Gartner.

  • By 2017, 75% of organizations will have replaced their remote-office tape backup with a disk-based backup solution that incorporates replication, up from 45% today.
  • By 2018, the number of organizations abandoning tape backup will double.
  • By 2019, there will be a 60% increase in the number of large enterprises eliminating tape for operational recovery.

As these numbers show, tape backup will continue to decline over the next 4 years. Is your company still using tape backup? Sounds like it’s time to make a switch.

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