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Backup Tapes Best Practices
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Backup Tapes Best Practices

At Secure Data Recovery Services, we handle hundreds of data tape recovery cases every year. We also provide conversion services for archival tapes, and our specialists regularly encounter a variety of entry-level to enterprise-level backup strategies.

Best Practices for Handling Backup Tapes

All businesses need to implement a sound backup policy in order to avoid permanent data loss.

Many of our clients ask about the best practices for backup tapes, and while tape practices vary considerably from one business to the next, we offer several general recommendations for more dependable data tape backup.

For dependable access, keep these general data tape storage tips in mind:

  • Follow your manufacturer's instructions and retire older tapes after extended rewrites.
  • Never use a physically damaged tape or a malfunctioning tape drive.
  • When using incremental and differential backups, occasionally check your most recent full backup for consistency.
  • Store your tapes in a logical way and occasionally perform spot checks to verify random backups.
  • When rotating tapes, keep an electronic record of overwrites. Retire your tapes regularly and clearly label each tape with its place in the rotation.

Finally, pay attention to storage conditions. In order to properly protect your data tape backup, you need to maintain an appropriate long-term environment. While different types of tapes require different conditions, you can quickly find storage guidelines for your media by consulting your documentation.

Most tapes require low humidity and moderate temperatures. You should regularly clean your storage environment and keep t apes in protective casings to prevent contaminant damage from causing data loss issues.

Your backup and recovery procedures are also important, and you should regularly review your procedures to look for potential oversights. Make sure that you can easily find a specific backup tape when necessary. Ideally, you should keep an electronic list of all of your tapes in order to facilitate fast disaster recovery. Many larger businesses run occasional disaster simulations to make sure that they could easily restore from a random point.

All businesses should carefully control employee access to tape archives. This limits compliance issues and also significantly lowers the chances of user error. You should also regularly review your procedures with your staff, particularly after major system upgrades or changes to your tape rotation.

What to Do When a Data Tape Stops Functioning

When you cannot access a data tape or cartridge for any reason, you should proceed as if the tape has physical damage regardless of the failure symptoms. Never take any steps that could result in additional data loss.

We recommend taking the following actions as soon as you notice tape access issues:

  • Eject the damaged tape, if possible. Do not attempt to read an obviously damaged data tape backup under any circumstances.

  • Store the damaged media in a safe location. Protect it from contamination. Most digital storage media is hygroscopic and will attract dust and moisture when exposed to untreated air.

  • Find a qualified tape data recovery provider. You should choose a data recovery company before your media fails, as this will allow you to quickly recover access to mission-critical files in an emergency.

  • Package your tapes safely. Use appropriate packing materials and use a shipping company that provides tracking information. Alternately, you can visit one of Secure Data Recovery Services' facilities to drop off your storage media.

Secure Data Recovery Services' engineers specialize in data tape backup recovery, and we maintain the industry's most advanced media repair laboratory. We treat all damaged tapes in a certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom using SSAE 16 Type II certified procedures. If you need to quickly restore damaged tape archives, we can treat your case effectively and securely through more than 40 facilities throughout the United States. Contact our customer service team with any questions or to set up a price quote for your damaged archival tapes.

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