6 Questions Regarding The Role Of Tape Backup In Disaster Recovery


The use of tape backup for disaster recovery purposes has continued to decline as disk backups become the industry standard.  Over the past 24 months, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not tape is a dying technology.  While it is not used as much as it used to be, it still provides some value within a disaster recovery strategy.  Businesses are discovering what tape should and should not be used for in combination with popular disaster recovery technologies.

Why is the Tape Technology Still Relevant to Disaster Recovery?
Like most media, tape is currently undergoing a variety of improvements which is what will keep it relevant in disaster recovery strategies.  Tape has borrowed technologies for the disk arena which has reduced common mechanical errors, such as head alignment issues.  Tape has also shown improvements in media track densities and capacities.  Drives and automation features are improving as well.  It remains relevant to disaster recovery because it continues to provide a high-capacity alternative to disks, which is significantly less expensive.

What are the Difference between Archiving and Data Backup?
A common point of confusion within disaster recovery strategies is the difference between archiving and data backup.  To craft an effective disaster recovery plan, it must be understood that they are two completely different processes which are designed to accomplish different things.  Archiving is simply storing a set of organize data for an extended period of time.  Backing up data is a form of short-term storage because it requires frequent updating.

Why is Tape a Good Solution for Archiving?
Recent developments in tape technology make it an ideal archiving solution within a disaster recovery plan.  There are larger cartridge capacities, lower power consumption, and higher storage densities.  Tape also boasts a 30+ year resiliency which makes it an excellent platform for long-term storage needs.

Is Tape Encryption Important?
From a legal perspective, this answer varies from one state to the next and is largely determined by the industry the businesses in.  In a more general sense, if the tape is moved off premise then some level encryption is recommended.  Keep in mind that in a disaster recovery situation, encrypted tape lengthens the data restoration process.

Are There Any Issues with Tape Encryption Which Will Affect Disaster Recovery?
The most important thing to consider is the additional time it takes to restore data.  With older LTO versions, encryption will increase the data restoration time by an average of 40%.  Additionally, most encryption systems rely on crypto keys which mean maintaining a key management system is necessary.  Depending on the disaster recovery plan and encryption strategy, key management solutions range from extremely simple to implement to extremely resource intensive and time-consuming to manage.

What to Expect from Tape in the Future?
Disaster recovery strategies are constantly altered due to data growth and higher energy costs caused by disk-based storage. This will bring more attention back to tape as a beneficial resource in a production storage environment and for mass data archiving.

Henry Williams believes every company should consider disaster recovery services.  These services are critical for keeping businesses running after system failures.  Data Centers offering disaster recovery services provide the redundancy.

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