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Article · May 2, 2016

Should tape be part of your backup strategy?

Should tape be part of your backup strategy?

Color illustration of laptop computer wearing a graduation cap.

Surf the web for information on magnetic tape drives, and you’re likely to find headlines ranging from “tape backup is dead,” to “tape backup is back” and “tape backup never really went away.”

That’s because tape technology has steadily improved in recent years; and at the same time a growing number of companies have recognized the power of cloud backup. Consider this: By 2018, the number of organizations abandoning tape for backup will double, whereas archiving to tape will increase by 35%, according to analyst firm Gartner.

Some of the key advantages of tape drives include:

  • Reliability
    Magnetic tape drives are typically only in use during backup and recovery operations. As a result they tend to be very reliable compared to using network backup or hard drives which are “always on.”
  • Portability
    You can remove them from drives easily, take them home, or hand them to a third party.
  • Ease of use
    There’s plenty of software designed to help people restore a computer from tape quickly and easily.

Some of the key disadvantages of magnetic tape drives include:

  • Tapes degrade over time
    Heat, moisture and dust are just a few of the things that can cause tapes to degrade relatively quickly.
  • Storage
    At some point, tapes start to take up a lot of space. There are plenty of stories of IT pros with boxes of tapes in their garage.
  • Difficult to do granular restores
    Tape drives are best suited for full restores. Finding and restoring individual files can be a long and painful process.
  • Security issues
    Tapes can easily be lost or stolen or damaged – especially during transport. 

There’s one other very important thing to remember about tape: It definitely should not be the only form of backup you use.

If tape backup is the only form of backup you’re using to protect your businesses data, you could be putting critical business information at risk. IT industry experts universally agree that it’s simply not a good idea to use just one form of backup.

Instead, a best practice is to follow the 3-2-1 Backup Rule. This rule of thumb simply states that to keep your data safe, you need to do the following:

  • Save at least three copies of your data.
  • Store the data on two different storage types such as magnetic tape and the cloud.
  • Keep at least one copy off-site, such as in the cloud, to guard against fire, theft and natural disasters.

If you’re using tape for backup you’re certainly in good company. But tape alone isn’t enough. To strengthen your backup strategy and achieve true data protection, add a cloud backup solution from Carbonite today. It’s the best way to ensure that your business stays in business no matter what happens.


Mark Brunelli

Senior Writer

Mark Brunelli is a Senior Writer on the Corporate Marketing team at Carbonite. He blogs about Carbonite happenings and IT industry trends.

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