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Think Twice Before Discarding Old Records: Tape Is Making a Comeback

Despite the fact that data backup has moved away from tape, IT decision makers for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) should not overlook the possibilities and opportunities that data tape still offers.  Large businesses may be able to afford a complete overhaul of their data backup and storage, but cost aside, complete replacement is seldom necessary for SMBs.  Even if the technology or format currently in use is not the most up-to-date, tape provides a great opportunity for SMBs to be both smart and thrifty.

What’s Considered Old?

It may surprise you that there is no data tape format that is too old to maintain.  While backup/restoration functionality is slower, speed is a luxury, not a requirement.  Even the most dated technology can still work well for archival data backup, and the reality is that upgrades are something SMBs should carefully consider from every angle before committing, especially at a time when checkbooks remain tight.

While tape-to-tape transfer can be both time consuming and tedious, it is still mandated by some companies.  Even if it is not required, it is a good idea to hold onto your old data tapes for emergency situations, rather than implementing a full upgrade and/or data transfer.

It is also important to consider whether or not to trade in your old data tape gear.  Due to depreciation, it is likely that your equipment is worth only pennies on the dollar against your original investment.  By utilizing your original equipment, you are providing a cost-effective platform for archival data backup without investing in a new system.

Is it Tape-Worthy?

To determine whether your information needs to be stored on a fast or slow restoration option, it is important to ask the following disaster recovery (DR) questions:

1.How much historical data on those elements are needed for daily operations, and how much storage capacity does it require?

2.Which elements of your data are essential to daily operations?

3.What is the cost to your business should it have to operate without that essential data for a day?  For a week or longer?

4.How long can your business operate successfully without any access to that essential data?

By answering these questions, you can determine what data should be stored on equipment capable of high-speed data restoration, as well as the value of that data.  All other data, or “non-essential” data, should be stored on the most economical and reliable technology available which, in many cases, is data tape.  Depending on how much downtime your business can afford, you will need a DR backup system that can restore your network and essential data within that time frame.  For most SMBs in practice, this usually comes down to a 36 to 48 hour window of essential data that should be kept on a top-of-the-line backup format; all other data is safe to store on tape.

Because every business has different storage needs, it is important to look at your organization’s unique qualities when deciding on the best possible storage solution.  However, for the majority of SMB’s, it is important to recognize that tape still has a valid place in the data center.

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