Ditch the Tape!

A recent sales win with a customer who was a long-time Iron Mountain Enterprise Tape Backup user got me thinking…

I was surprised that we were replacing their tape backup solution with our Enterprise Backup for the cloud. Isn’t tape dead??

So I looked into it. It turns out that for archiving, tape makes sense. If you have regulatory or compliance reasons to keep data for 7 years, 10 years, or even indefinitely, it’s a logical choice.

But what about the issues? Tape failure rates were the most alarming. I “heard” anywhere from 5 to 70% failure rates, but firsthand, my customer told me his failure rates were about 1 in 5. And he was retrieving tapes about once a week. Yikes.

And tape touches so many hands. Anymore, that makes me nervous. I’ve known too many humans in my life. That’s a bit crass, but you know the Liberty Mutual car commercial, (think ‘80’s band, Human League) “We’re only human…” while the lady’s car rolls off the ferry in to the water, or the lady whose car door gets ripped off by a passing car as she reaches for her purse. (Is it only women?? I think not).

Anyway, my research shows the benefit of tape. It’s nice to see the tapes being made, copied, verified, and watch them head to the loading doc. I’m a bit of a doubting Thomas, so I get that. But I’m at least technologically savvy enough to also believe that when I go online and can check to see that the files I’ve stored on my cloud server are listed, that they’re really there. And I’d rather be able to restore from a backup immediately at the push of button rather than wait for a truck and some errant delivery guy (who’s just taken the door off a woman’s parked car). Just sayin’.

So if you’re still doing tape backups, and you want to give the cloud a go, check this out.


  1. As someone who has followed technology for 20+ years, I have to say, this is COOL — but not a terribly foolproof, proven or easy-to-implement alternative. For those techies, check out the link. The point remains: even paper is better than tape — what does that say?

  2. I have a saying that is perfect for this.

    “Who backups up the backup that backs you up?”

    Regardless of tape backups, SANS, NAS, Cloud, etc…. something needs to be 100% in terms of an absolute backup solution, since everything will eventually fail. Can’t wait for that day to finally come so not only myself but everyone else who hordes precious data can relax for once on this subject.

  3. As you know, nothing is 100% (except death and taxes). If you want a more reliable backup solution, you can add RAID and recovery services — which HOSTING provides — but it will never be 100%, and anyone who tells you it will, well, can’t be backed up (ba dam bomp tssshh…)

    One might consider managed backups. You can improve your karma via technology only so far, then having someone keep an eye on it, test it every once in a while, and ensure your data’s still out there, is the best you’ll get.

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