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Should You Send Your Data Tapes to the Cloud?

Tape backups are a tried and true technology, but with everything moving to "The Cloud" should your tape data be migrated too?


Businesses have used backup cartridges for decades to protect data on servers and other large-scale systems. Data tapes are secure, reliable and affordable, but in recent years, many storage professionals have promoted cloud-based solutions over tape cartridges for archival storage and data backup. Cloud technology is a major buzzword in 2013, and proponents argue that cloud systems offer a dependable, secure alternative to physical media.

The cloud is certainly a tempting option for medium to enterprise-sized businesses with relatively large data storage needs. If your business is considering a move, however, you need to carefully evaluate the potential advantages and disadvantages of each available storage option.

Advantages of moving to the cloud:

Better Overall Reliability - Virtual storage technology is extremely dependable. Most cloud services use advanced RAID systems with multiple levels of fault tolerance, and because the backups are offsite, your business has automatic protection from floods, fires and other environmental catastrophes.

Tapes only offer a single level of fault tolerance, and while they are somewhat more dependable than other storage devices, any tape cartridge can break down gradually over time. Problems like oxide loss and drive malfunctions can quickly cause issues for tape backup users during a restore. Cloud servers will rarely encounter physical media issues.

Minimal Storage Requirements - Tape archives can take up a tremendous amount of office space. By moving to the cloud, you significantly improve storage efficiency. Your business will also spend less money on tape upkeep, which can help to justify the costs of conversion.

Faster Disaster Recovery - Depending on the size of your archives, locating a backup of your data might take significantly less time with a cloud service than with a tape system. You can also restore your system fairly quickly depending on file type and several other factors.

Low Costs - Cloud services are inherently flexible and cost efficient. While data tape cartridges are not particularly expensive, cloud services might yield lower costs in the long run.

Advantages of tape backup include:

Security of Working With Physical Media - Tape drives are designed for dependable long-term storage. Many backup programs have built-in features that protect against logical damage and data loss, and most offer some type of encryption.

Avoiding Conversion Costs - Converting from one backup system to another can cost your business a tremendous amount of money, and some businesses have trouble justifying the scheduled downtime or productivity losses. These costs can be mitigated by working with a professional tape migration company.

No Reliance on Third Party Providers - Most businesses that use cloud technology rely on a third-party provider, which is not always ideal. Certain high-security businesses need to minimize access by any means possible, and even with appropriate encryption, you might prefer to maintain physical control of your media.

At Secure Data Recovery Services, we regularly work with archival media, and while we believe that there are advantages to cloud backup and tape, cloud services offer better long-term viability and failure protection.

However, you will need to analyze conversion costs to determine on an appropriate course of action. To minimize costs, consider working with a professional tape conversion company.

Secure Data Recovery Services specializes in tape migration. We keep a large library of tape drives at our facilities, which allow us to offer media conversion for LTO, DLT, AIT and all other tape formats. If you are considering a move to the cloud and you need to analyze costs, our specialists can help you make an appropriate plan for your business.

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