Is Tape Data Backup Really Your Best Solution?
September 14th 2009
Is tape backup really the best solution for storing, preserving and protecting your critical business information? An article that discuses some of the pros and cons of this widely used solution.
The answer we are hearing from more and more businesses is an overwhelming--No! Several clients in the Washington DC area have recently mentioned instances of stolen or misplaced laptops and computers that have contained thousands (or more!) of sensitive customer records and files. This sensitive and confidential data may have been compromised due to their reliance on traditional backup tapes.
With the recent advances in backup technology, there is an alternative to the common tape backup systems that can contain many hidden risks and dangers.
Several organizations have reported that a large percentage of tape backup jobs contain errors and many more do not even test the restore function of their backups on a regular basis.
For those that do, they are often shocked to find that their disaster recovery capabilities are severely compromised.
As such, most experts agree that tape is quickly becoming an inferior media for backing up data. Furthermore, this approach requires significant manual intervention in addition to the need to be physically moved off-site. In many cases, this means that an employee actually takes the backup tape home back and forth---Yikes!!
Organizations that are truly concerned about their data are rapidly evaluating alternative solutions. Increasingly, organizations are looking at Online Backup Services from third-party providers.
In much the same way that Storage Area Networks (SAN) are replacing file servers, online backup is making tape backup obsolete. The reasons include a significant drop in disk storage costs, a substantial increase in bandwidth speeds as well as dramatically improved security and recovery capabilities.
However, the real benefit of online storage is the flexibility to automatically backup your data securely to an off-site Data Center and provide your end-users with immediate access to files that need to be recovered. Even a file as small as a single email can be quickly and securely recovered. Now, contrast this with a tape backup approach in which end-users may need to wait hours or days to find and recover a single email. When you need to recover an email, which approach would you prefer?
In addition to faster recovery times, an online backup solution can be implemented relatively easily. Automatic backups of your servers and desktops can be configured to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) Device on defined time intervals (i.e. every 15 minutes for email and transactional databases, once a day for other data). The NAS device is comparable to a server with contains a disk array to hold all of your backup files as well as function as a traffic manager to encrypt and transmit your data over the internet to the off-site Data Center. At this point, you will actually have two backups, one on the NAS device and one at the off-site Data Center. An additional copy of your backup can also be sent to a redundant facility in case a catastrophic event occurs at one of the Data Centers.
The price of using an online service provider is very reasonable although there can be significant pricing differences in the marketplace. In general, the prices should be in the $5-$10 per compressed Gigabyte (GB), per month range. Some vendors charge for uncompressed versus compressed data which can result in a large variance in the cost of your solution as most data can be compressed as much as 50%.
But, there is still some confusion in the marketplace around this issue, so make sure you understand all the variables before making a commitment and selecting your partner.
Lastly, increased legal, compliance and regulatory issues need to be considered when organizations secure their sensitive and critical data. For many an organization, an online backup solution was the saving grace in a catastrophe. Let's hope you never need it!
We frequently survey the market in order to ensure we are able to provide you with the best online backup solutions available, as well offer you solution options.