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Hardware Thread, Tape Drives Vs Hard Drives in Technical; My boss has always been bias when it comes to tape drive backup solutions. We cover many primary/first schools in ...
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    DEvans's Avatar
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    Question Tape Drives Vs Hard Drives

    My boss has always been bias when it comes to tape drive backup solutions. We cover many primary/first schools in our local LA and in every school that needs a new server, they end up buying a "built for purpose" Server with a LTO 4 Itanium Tape Drive.

    We buy our servers through Dell and those tape drives alone are 1300+ without the tapes. So if we quoted a server for 3500, i know that 1300 of that is for a tape drive which I need to rely on someone in the school to change over on a daily basis, as i'm only here once a week, (sometimes once every two weeks) depending on what the school have paid for.

    Thing is, teachers are difficult to teach and money is so tight these days, its probably best, imo, to get them to spend that 1300 on something else, maybe upgrade their 100Mbit switch to a Gig, or perhaps add more memory, a better processor etc.

    I'm trying to argue that tape drives in schools might not be the best solution and we should start thinking of alternatives, my favourite and the most popular being hard disk drives.

    My bosses main argument was that tape drives are many, so there are many backups so if one goes wrong then we have others to choose from, but with the cost of hard drives being so low these days (<100 for a TB) if we got 5 HDD for 500 thats still a saving of 800.

    I'm trying to be diplomatic and need a convincing argument to put forward to try and convince my boss that this should be the way to go.

    Of course however, I am bias towards HDD backup solutions, so I might not be in the wrong, but after a lot of Googling, Its difficult to ignore that all "advantages" of tape drives are now being outnumbered by all the disadvantages and the fact that HDD are also stealing the show and are demonstrating better reliability over Tape drives.

    What are your opinions? Am I wrong or should HDD be the way forward?

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    Hightower's Avatar
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    I know plenty of people who trust HDD backups - but I don't. Our solution here is Disk to Disk to Tape, so we have a backup on HDD to restore quickly (i.e. odd files here and there) and a backup on tape that can easily be archived and stored in remote locations.

    If you are thinking of HDD backups only, you need to look at having an offsite backup.

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    nicholab's Avatar
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    An LTO-4 tapes cost 25 for 800GB. Also you will need at least 25-100TB depending on the system and how do you send it off site? You could look at a cloud based backup will the internet will cope. I would look at 16TB drobo for starting a disk system.
    Last edited by nicholab; 8th February 2011 at 11:37 AM.

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    reggiep's Avatar
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    Can I jump on here to ask what people here do use? We currently back up to NAS every night but do not have any off site backups. We were thinking of using a HD caddy and plonking 1TB drives in there to be taken off site. Having no offsite does worry me so have been looking for solutions for a while.

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    Paid_Peanuts's Avatar
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    Whack in 1 TB or so and use DPM to backup to disk for immediate file recovery.
    Then LTO3/4 to tape once a week for offsite backup.

    That would be my suggestion. HDD backup is fine however you would need several HDD's that you could remove offsite to be completely safe in the knowledge your covered.
    Knowing primary schools their internet connection wouldnt be capable of keeping an offsite backup up-to-date without scheduling it to happen at night without users knowing. In which case your not that much better off.

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    Hightower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reggiep View Post
    Can I jump on here to ask what people here do use? We currently back up to NAS every night but do not have any off site backups. We were thinking of using a HD caddy and plonking 1TB drives in there to be taken off site. Having no offsite does worry me so have been looking for solutions for a while.
    Remember off-site doesn't have to be at home. It can be in another seperate building if you have one, and would be better in terms of data protection done that way.

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    arthur231283's Avatar
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    I have been looking at upgrading our backup recently and have been trying to decide between Disk or Tape. We currently have a Disk to Disk to Tape setup but the size of the full backup is nearly as big as the capacity of the Tape library.

    I can get a new tape library with all the tapes I need for around 3,000 or I can buy some external HDD that will do the same thing for 1,000. So I agree that when it comes to cost the HDD is much cheaper

    We currently use ATI tapes and find the reliability very hit and miss and haven't used a HDD over a long period of time for a backup to be able to compare to this.

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    stitch's Avatar
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    I am planning to move away from tapes for the main backup, to a 14TB NAS box running Raid 5 which will be in a separate building on the site and then once a week, either backing up onto LTO tape which can then be put into the fire safe or onto a server with caddy drives, so that they could be put in the safe.

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    Paid_Peanuts's Avatar
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    On the tape front we ue an IBM TS3200 LTO4 tape library with SONY LTO4 tapes and that has been very reliable. I think over the past 2.5 years i can only remember 2 tapes failing - and the tape library tells us to replace them!
    I dont have any issues with tape reliability. I would argue that tape are more reliable than a bunch of HDD in a RAID configuration.

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    nicholab's Avatar
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    We have 50TB of tape in off site storage this is two years worth of backups. Also tape does not use power when off line.

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    mjs_mjs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholab View Post
    Also tape does not use power when off line.
    Neither do disks if you spin down.

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    NAS box running Raid 5 which will be in a separate building
    I was thinking this or two cheaper mirror nas devices that backup from one to the other and are also in separate buildings from each other.

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    DEvans's Avatar
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    I am very much for the idea of NAS drives. Hard Disk Drives have a Low mean time between failure, so technically they would be more reliable than tapes, also that tapes are generally more vunerable to enviromental issues. Stick a tape in a damp room and the chance of recovering data is lowered by a massive percentage.

    NAS drives, I can stick up in all parts of the building(s), with a healthy Gigabit Transfer rate to them every night. Thats sorta where I personally want to go. Elimates human error. Plus the idea of being able to recover data via Random Access is far superior to needing to suffer the slow recovery times of a tape.

    Lets be honest, when it comes to actually using your backups, 9 times out of 10 its because a teacher has walked into your room moaning they just deleted a file they shouldn't of. The need to do a full system recovery is rare, obviously it happens and we will need to be prepared for that.

    I like the idea of a combination, maybe a weekly backup to tape, but unfortunatly that still means purchasing a expensive drive, thats only good if we had one already. I just want to do good by my schools and as times are hard financially, I don't want them wasting money on something there is a good chance they will forget to actually do.

    At some of my schools they located the server too high to put a damn tape in the drive or even worse keeping all the tapes together.. next to the server! It's got to a point now where I've recorded myself on my Iphone saying to them they need to move their tapes to a safe location, so if the system does collapse it's not muggins here you gets the blame.

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    sparkeh's Avatar
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    I too work across a few schools.
    I have a permanent USB HD attached which is used to backup to every night. This backup is then copied across to a RAID 5 NAS in a separate building (auto done with either Acronis Backup or BackupExec).
    I also carry a separate HD with me which I copy across the latest backup to when I visit. BE 2010R2 is great for using storage which is plugged/unplugged regularly.

    Also worth noting that if you are backing up to NAS with Server 2003's ntbackup, you can't restore System State from there. Server 2008's Server Backup will do this however.

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