Using offsite tape storage facilities is the fundamental way of maintaining a disaster recovery plan for many companies. This article looks into why tape storage is still popular despite newer technologies entering the market and some of the choices you will need to make when picking an offsite storage facility.
It can often seem odd to still see backup tape devices being used in modern offices. Especially when you consider how NAS and HDD backup systems are now so widespread. However, the key to backup tapes still being popular comes down to the fact that they are well proven technologies at this point and can be reliably used over and over again. It’s also worth noting that the cost of the tape media themselves as gotten so long now that it is extremely cheap to maintain numerous backup copies of your IT systems.
In addition, the process of data recovery and mechanical recovery from a backup tape is a lot easier than it is from HDD device. On many occasions, if you were to drop a backup tape and the casing became damaged then you could simply replace it with anyone and would still operate. The same could not be said of HDD storage device that was dropped.
The choice of which offsite tape storage facility you use comes down to a couple of key factors. First you need to consider any legal requirements that your company may have with regard to data protection of customer information. If you have legal requirements relating to the level of security for this data that may preclude using some facilities (e.g. if you are storing data belonging to competitors).
Secondly, you need to consider the proximity of the backup facility. If you need access to the tapes for fixing computer problems rapidly then you will need some way of transporting the tapes from the facility to your office (e.g. using couriers). This time constraint should be clearly defined as part of your disaster recovery plans and agreed by all management.
Location is also a consideration as regards the safety of the backup facility. If a hurricane was to cause damage to your building, then it could conceivably cause damage to a backup facility within a certain number of miles radius. Therefore, the location of the facility should be outside a range affected by adverse weather conditions that your region may experience.
Is important to also consider what sort of backup testing you should do prior to going with an offsite tape storage facility. This should include doing a trial run of saving and restoring data to and from tapes and transporting them to the offsite facility in order to assess what turnaround times would be needed for retrieving a tape.