Tape backup should be illegal too

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In my previous post I joked about how 5400 RPM hard drives should be illegal. You might think I’m continuing to joke by saying that tape backup should be illegal too. But no, in this case, I’m dead serious. Tape backups should be made illegal.

As you know, my company provides 3rd party IT support services to clients. Part of these services include ensuring backups are taking place. My very first post to GeekBrainDump.com talked about backups, making sure they’re actually running, etc. This is all important, but what’s also important is the method and media you use to create those backups. A day old successful backup is worthless if you can’t use it to do a restoration.

You may all have varying experience, but I can only speak from my own. And I can only say, in my experience, tape media backups do not work. It’s that simple, black and white, they simply do not work. I’ve seen too many backups running on tapes. It’s the year 2014 (or 2013, or 2012, or whatever date I ran into these damn things). In any case, we’re at a point in time (and have been for quite a while) where tape doesn’t make any sense anymore. We have external USB hard drives that are large enough to replicate onto. Heck, for some offices, the larger USB thumb drives will work (they make a 256GB one now!). There’s simply no reason to be using tape.

I say this because I’ve never once been able to completely restore a server from a tape backup. And I’ve tried. I’ve tried it in test disaster recovery scenarios, and I had to try it once in a live disaster scenario. I won’t say I’ve tried “hundreds of times”, but I’ve tried a decent amount, and again, it has NEVER worked. Worse yet, I see brand new, yes BRAND NEW servers being deployed with tape backup. Why this makes any sense I don’t know.

If you’re in the business of providing support to clients or users, it is your responsibility to ensure a good backup regime is in place using a good medium. Remember, if something goes awry, you need to know you can rely on your backups and not have to worry about your tape drive eating the tape (pencil, anyone ?).


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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