Why spend several thousand dollars on a tape drive?

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Why spend several thousand dollars on a tape drive?

I’d need serious convincing that any hard drive made today will be workable in ten years' time.

I guess I should answer the obvious question – why spend several thousand dollars on a tape drive when you can get 3TB of external hard disk storage for a few hundred bucks?

Surely this tape stuff is so last century and has no place today? You might well be right, except for a few factors. 
If you put a hard disk on the shelf and leave it for 15 years, will it work when you come to power it up again? Will there be an appropriate port to plug it into, and will there be the necessary OS support? Alright, I’ll admit that NTFS format and FAT32 have been around for a very long time now, and aren’t going to disappear in the next few years. But it’s already getting hard to find FireWire 800 ports, especially on PCs. I’d need serious convincing that any drive made today will be workable in ten years’ time.
A Tandberg tape drive
For another thing, tape systems and the mature software that drives them actively promote clean ways of working: take a full backup, followed by differences, in a managed and catalogued fashion. Large hard disks on the other hand encourage drag and drop, exactly the easygoing approach that’s created much of our data explosion in the first place. And no, I wouldn’t particularly trust even a claimed ruggedised, standard cheap hard drive in the boot of my car for the next decade.
I might be tempted by Tandberg’s RDX solution, though: a removable hard disk designed specifically for backup and archive. The company even does a multidrive server product that can look just like a tape drive and autoloader, and the reviews of it have been very positive. 
The big concern is having too much of your archive in the same format as the main solution is stored in. At least with tape for archive, I’m using an entirely different technology to the disc RAID arrays, and there’s a comfortable differentiation there. Maybe I need tape plus industrial-strength removable hard disks?
This is a subject that isn’t going to go away any time soon.
What do you use to back up and archive a data set of 2GB, and one of 10GB? Remember you must be able to take the storage off-site for it to count. Add your comment below.
Ready to dive deeper on this topic? Read our overall guide to the best backup strategy.
[This is an excerpt from an article published in the January 2013 issue of PC & Tech Authority magazine]


Copyright © Alphr, Dennis Publishing

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