Tape Drives: share your thoughts

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Blue Velvet, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    We're looking to organise a regular tape backup of our network for offsite storage of work and resources.

    Internally, all workstations are backed up nightly using Retrospect to the server, then the server's work drive is duplicated with another Retrospect script to an external LaCie HD giving us triplicate copies of each project if anything fails overnight.

    These backups and their duplicates are ideal for routine restores if necessary but the 'disaster recovery' committee would like us to have some scheme using offsite storage (in case of fire, floods etc.) with regularly rotating backups, much as IT do for the corporate (Windows) network.

    IT said they'll take our tapes with them to the warehouse so all we have to do is to regularly provide them with tapes or other media.

    At the moment, we have about 160gb of data but I see that expanding to about 250gb within the next 2-3 years.

    I don't have a clue about tape-drives. What kind of capacity, formatting, brands, proprietary formats etc. is there to know about? Are there external ones with firewire or do they have to be internal devices (i.e. ATA)

    Questions, questions...

    Answers much appreciated.

  2. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    We use external Firewire or ATA hotswap drives to store and backup data. Faster and conceivably safer than tape.


    For protection, I guess they could store the drive in a fire and water proof safe. Your IT department could also do incremental backups to a remote site via FTP.
  3. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    IT do store local backups onsite in a fire-proof safe but I think the offsiste storage is essentially a warehouse/archival storage. Anyway, our Mac network is not connected to the web at all so that's out of the question at the mo and I can't see me ISDNing 200gb+ of data out every night. :D
  4. matticus008 macrumors 68040


    Jan 16, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    As Lacero said, the most effective solution would be to use external hard drives stored off-site or to use the hotswappable cases for server rack drives. This is the most cost effective method and the easiest from a policy standpoint.

    I'm out of the IT field now, but I'll share a more complex system we planned shortly before I left my last job as a sysadmin. We had one server responsibile for nightly desktop and server backups and we kept external hard drives, updated daily when feasible, in a fire-proof safe. But facing the possibility of hardware loss due to fire or theft (the server facilities were in a very old building with generally inadequate physical security) and a tight budget, we kept a rotating server in addition to our onsite backup. This was done periodically, and it was our "backup server" backup.

    The strategy there was to swap the backup server every week and store the unused server in a secure location. In a worst-case scenario, that would leave us with one set of functioning hardware and a relatively recent data backup (brought up to nightly status with the onsite backup drives assuming the safe survived). It also allowed us to keep the offsite computer relatively recent without a functioning network connection. It had a copy of the domain and could be promoted to domain controller in a few minutes' notice and also held mission-critical applications/databases which could be used in the event of virus infection or hacking, and was not susceptible to attack by virtue of it being kept disconnected to any network.

    That way, in addition to data backup and hardware redundancy, our offsite implementation also acted as an "emergency server" replacing several other servers when necessary.
  5. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    I would agree with sticking to hard drives, though obviously removable. Your back needs are fairly modest (160-250GB), and I wouldn't say justify the expense of tape drives and tapes - unless these offsite backups are as much an archive that you will be wanting to keep for any significant length of time? If you were talking 1TB or more then it'd be a different story. I'm no backup expert by a long shot, so I'm not too sure what to suggest beyond that. Only to say that I don't think a tape drive is what you're looking for.

    Course, I could be talking complete crap :eek:
  6. mcarnes macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
    I *think* those fireproof safes only keep paper from burning. Are they rated to protect media like hard disks or tapes? Not being critical just wondering for myself.
  7. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    My .02

    I work in a Datacenter (basically a large server room)

    We have one customer who constantly has restore requests, and since our primary backup enviroment is over fiber to a remote site, it wasn't fast enough for us to do restores for them 24/7 (a very high touch customer). That customer has a dedicated server running an adaptec Serial ATA hot plugable drive bay, with 5 slots.

    We use Veritas software to backup the data to disks nightly, using 1 160gb drive per day, per backup (smaller and larger drives are available). Each day one drive is pulled, and sent away, and replaced with an other.

    The jobs run once onto the single 160gb drive, and then copied to the other 4 drives configured into a RAID-5. The purpose of the RAID-5 is to keep data available for their quick restores that happen daily (sometimes hourly), as the lone 160 is intended to be taken offsite after it is copied off.

    In their case the 4 (non removed) drives are each 160gb allowing for ~5 days of online storage (their current backup size is ~90gb per day). After the 5 days, a drive has to be brought back to the DC for a restore if needed. They currently keep 1 full months worth of drives offsite (35 Drives with spares), and 1 monthly copy for 2 years (48 drives as monthly backups are copied onto 2 disks (in case 1 fails). Needless to say with their model restores are important, and they have LOTS of drives :).

    With this setup you could have many kinds of options, mostly all allowing for removal of drives to be taken off site. The Cost associated with doing something like this all depends on your DR model, data retention period, size of the drives, and how many spares you need to keep available.

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