Is it Really a Question of Tape vs. Disk Backup?

Let’s face it. What is the one job that IT workers hate the most?

Tape backups.

Well, maybe there are other tasks that come close, but it definitely ranks up there in the top three. An industry standard for over 50 years, tape backup is a menial task. There’s changing tapes (unless you are fortunate enough to have an autoloader – except when they breakdown), rotating tapes, and testing tapes for defects by performing restorations.

Then there is the great joy in finding that one file the boss needs restored by sequentially searching a dozen tapes to find it. Take heart, tape backups are slowly being replaced by disk backups, either locally or in the cloud.

In reality though, a good backup and disaster recovery plan should include both tapes and disk solutions. Tape is still the best for archival use, lasting decades using high quality tapes and in proper storage conditions.

But for cost effectiveness and restoration of routine backups disk or cloud are more practical for small and medium businesses (I know you tape advocates will argue the cost issue, but I’m assuming total cost including administration and storage). A DTI/PricewaterhouseCoopers study revealed that 70% of businesses that suffered a major data loss went out of business within one year. You need to be able to back up essential data and restore it quickly.

Tape restoration is anything but quick. Another survey by Gartner and Storage Magazine found that 34 percent of companies never test a restore from tape. Of those that do test, 77 percent experienced failures in their tape backups. So tapes are prone to failure as well.

How do you feel about tape backups? Do you think disk backup is the way of the future?

And we’d love to hear your funny, or horrifying, backup stories. Tape, disk, or cloud we want to hear them all!