Tape backup is a huge risk to your business

Tape backup is a huge risk to your business

First things first… backup is the most important IT system you have. If you don’t have an effective backup and restore plan, then you have accepted that you are happy to lose all your data and systems... I don’t think any Director can accept that risk! 

Remember tape? Maybe you are still using it? I finally stopped using tape for backup about 5 years ago when the drop in the price of hard drives finally made it cost effective but I still remember its merits. Many people in IT now look down on the humble tape drive and berate it for its slow read times and all the unreliability problems that come with mechanical media but I look back on it fondly. Not because I want to use it again (that would be insane!) but because it saved my bacon many times.

 I vividly remember an evening back in the early 2000’s sitting on the floor of a freezing data centre and swearing under my breath as I hurriedly dismantled a server who’s backplane had spectacularly failed and destroyed all the drives. I knew I was in for a long night installing the new part and restoring the data but I was also glad we backed up the data. Of course, back then, no one thought it odd that the system would take three days to recover and they just accepted that they had lost all the data created between the last backup and the backplane failing – after all, IT was some complicated and mystical dark art back then! But we would have been in big trouble if the backup tape was no good.

Anyway, we got back up and running and the business began to recover but looking back there are two big questions that strike me - would any modern company accept this much downtime and how would you cope with losing a day’s data? It’s pretty obvious, the answers are “no” and “badly”. The world has changed, we all expect our systems to be responsive, scalable and above all reliable.

I was reading some research recently and was not surprised to discover that many people are still using tape drives, after all, they probably remember all the times that trusty tape drive has saved them. However, I very much doubt that they meet the expectations of the business and their customers and I would not want to be the one sitting in a cold data centre waiting 3 days for my data and watching the business crumble around me!

Back in the early 2000’s we had no choice, tape was the only way to backup and store large quantities of data. The cost of hard drives made them no longer viable and we just didn’t have the internet bandwidth to replicate our data off-site. But these are not obstacles any more so there is no reason not to change… every business is being increasingly driven by data so protecting that data should be the number one priority for any IT director.

 If you feel your business is at risk and you need advice please contact Fifosys. We will aim to give you an objective view of your systems and offer advice and support to improve them.