How long do you keep your backup tapes?


By Patrick Eitenbichler

Over the past week I talked to a number of customers and industry analysts to better understand whether backup tapes are kept for just a couple of months or for many years.  After all, the specs show that the lifespan of e.g. LTO media is 30 years.

To my surprise, I found out that close to half of all customers keep only three months worth of data -- before the tapes get re-used and the data gets overwritten.  The other half uses tape as an archive medium and keep the cartridges for several years (although I found no one who had a 30-year-old tape in their drawer  :-).

Question is...  Do backup administrators keep tapes for a certain period of time because "it's always been this way" -- or because they're following a recently updated backup strategy?  Through data classification and a proactive data protection and archiving strategy, users can achieve a multitude of goals -- all at the same time:

  • Reduce backup windows and simplify recovery:  If data is only kept for a couple of months, a disk-based backup solution such as HP's StorageWorks VLS or D2D using HP Data Protector software would make the most sense -- leveraging low-bandwidth remote replication to store data "off site", and deduplication to minimize storage costs.

  • After classifying data and determining WHAT data needs to be kept for the long term -- whether it's for compliance, e-discovery or corporate governance reasons -- decisions can be made re: what data can be kept on tape (low cost, low energy consumption) vs. and archiving solution such as HP's Integrated Archive Platform (single, searchable repository for all data types).

In short, users can reduce costs and increase IT productivity by calling a time-out and taking a closer look at "how long you keep your backup tapes" -- and WHY?


(anon) | ‎11-07-2009 06:58 AM

<a href="">thanks for this great article</a>

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