Are Tape Backups Still Relevant?

by SEP Blog Team | Backup Strategy, Disaster Recovery, Data Protection, Tape Backup

Tapes have been around for almost a century and, although they have seen many different uses, today they are primarily used by companies for enterprise backup. Data is backed up to tape, which are often stored off-site to use in the event of data loss. The most recent backups are used to restore as much of the system as possible to minimize the effects of data loss. As the landscape of IT changes and with the rise of the cloud, are tape backups still relevant? Here are a few of the facts you’ll need to decide if a tape-based backup system is relevant to include in your backup and disaster recovery strategy.

Scaling the Cost of Data Loss

Wise organizations know that data should exist in several locations on different storage technologies to ensure security, high recovery rates, and overall data confidence. We cannot see what new type of cybercrime is waiting around the corner. The cost of lost data can be devastating for much longer than the time it takes to recover data. In many cases the cost is far greater than the price tag of implementing a robust data protection plan. To protect your company's data, tape may be an integral part of any data protection plan.

The Benefits of Tape

Besides being designed specifically for critical data backup, some benefits of tape backup include:

  • Mobility. Storing tape off-site is standard procedure and keeps things separate and easily recoverable. Tapes can be secured for many years and can be overwritten when old backups are no longer needed.
  • Affordability. Tapes cost less in terms of electricity and administration. Although there are costs involved with transportation and storage, it can still be highly affordable.
  • Large capacity of storage space. Tape offers more capacity on a single piece of media. A single tape cartridge can store up to 1TB of data. However, this is not as much as it used to be.
  • Compliant Storage Capabilities. Tapes can be stored when secured adequately for over 30 years, which can enable industry and legal data retention requirements.
  • Durability and longevity. Tape media is housed inside a robust, plastic cartridge, which minimizes the threat of damage to the media. Note: Proper tape storage is important. Tape technology is highly robust, but the lack of proper drive care and poor media management can compromise their reliability. Many companies prefer to outsource storage so they don’t have to manage media storage policy and procedure.
  • Overall Reliability. Tape can be used as a reliable insurance policy. If used properly, tapes are not able to be hacked or infected with a virus or malware. Backups stored offsite are the only way to prevent a ransomware attack from touching all of your data.

The Verdict

Although it is considered an antiquated method, with the rise of ransomware, tape should still be considered a valid tool to have in your belt because it can provide a cold backup offsite that will protect your data if your system is breached. Tape is also extremely durable and very helpful with data compliance laws. As modern technologies develop and new backup best practices emerge, tape will most likely fade away. However, it will be many years before the cloud displaces tape and until then, it will be a reliable component of disaster recovery planning for many businesses.