Tape Media and Disk Media: Which Backup Solution is Right for You?

Any business must secure its mission critical data to satisfy the present day governmental norms. But, in times of any disaster like software/hardware malfunctioning, virus affecting, hacking, etc., all the mission critical data might get lost. It is, therefore, much required to have a back up facility of all the major business documents. This will surely provide you an opportunity to get back on your feet once again and continue operating the business successfully.

There are basically two mediums that can be used as a backup storage technology: tape media and disc media. However, before selecting one technology, you need to make adequate research so that you can get hold of the medium that will be apt to your organization’s demands.

As promised last week in the article Two LTO Consortium Studies Reveal the Benefits of Tape Storage, and to help the the world wide IT managers in this respect, below is a comparative study of both these media:

Cost has always been a major factor in taking any decision. So, you need to calculate the acquisition and operational costs involved before selecting any particular back up storage technology. Tape media can save up to 75 per cent of your acquisition cost and also have proved to require 7 times lesser operational charges when compared to the disc media over a time frame of 5 years.

Tape industry also supports a wide variety of file formats. These include Super AIT, DLT, DDS/DAT, Travan, DLT, LTO, and VXA. And the major file formats that are supported by disc media include RDX removable disk cartridge, SATA hard drive, and RAID.

Data compression is one of the most essential functionality that increases both data transfer speed and media capacity to a great extent. In most of the tape formats, their capacity and speed almost gets doubled with data compression.

In terms of storage capabilities too, tape media surpass that of the disc media. The introduction of 2 TB SATA drives in the market is aptly met with the ultrium 5 cartridges of tape media technology. They have a humongous storage capacity of 3 TB (compressed).

Tape media also offer a great solution in protecting the mission critical data of your organization through data encryption functionality. Both the LTO ultrium 4 and LTO 5 are standard tape media formats that make tape media technology the best option to store your business data.

Durability is also a major issue that always ranks tape media higher than disc media. Tape media can quite easily withstand shocks and vibrations, and are also less prone of getting damaged from accidental drops. Whereas, disc media is more fragile and require careful handling.

Tape media also enjoy a larger life cycle. The usual time frame of the back up tape cartridges are calculated to be 30 years.

So, the study clearly shows that tape media technology should be preferred over disc media as a backup storage option.

3 comment(s)

  • Nov 17, 2011 by Hakan

    VTL based backup is a better solution for mission critical data, and lower RPO/RTO requirments. VTL is more reliable than tape by means of madia failure. If you lose a cartridge, you will not even know this failure until restoring this backup (too late!). In any disk failure, failed disk is replaced with spare one automatically and written data is protected disk RAID protection. We’re using both VTL (dedupped) and tape, while our all mission critical data are backed up by VTL, remaing data is backed up via tape libraries. For short term you’re right, VTL is more expensive than tape, but long term tape is not cheaper.

  • Nov 21, 2011 by Hakan

    VTL is more reliable by means of media. If you lose a cartridge, you even won’t be able to became aware of this failure until restoring the data (too late!). Otherwise if you encounter a disk failure, failed disk is replaced with spare one, and data on this disk is protected with disk RAID protection. VTL for mission critical data and lower RPO/RTO requirements, tape backup for standart backups :-)

  • Nov 21, 2011 by bmusil

    Great to get your feedback. Excellent.

    We are a tape based company and even we believe in a tiered backup plan. VTL and disk for mission critical data and tape media for archiving seems to be the best practice. Although, the words “mission critical data” have a different meaning for different organizations, depending on the nature of their business so it varies of course. But hands down tape for archiving is tough to argue against. Zero energy to have sit during retention period and no mechanical parts to seize up or have issues with. Let a tape sit for 10-20 years and put it in a drive and it will work like new.

    Thanks again for your comment.

  • Any feedback from you?

Nov 14, 2011 by