Best Long-Term Data Archive Solutions

Topics: Cloud Backup | Data Archive | Offsite Tape Vaulting

For most long-term data archive solutions use cases and many disaster recovery scenarios, tape is the superior choice over hard disk drives. Not only is tape more cost-effective, which is sure to put a smile on the face of any CFO, its longer-term reliability is beyond question, which should allow data owners and IT execs to rest easier and free them up to focus on driving business innovation.

For long-term data archive solutions, why does Google prefer to use tape storage drives and devices to archive and back up every email it stores? Because Google, recognizes that tape is less expensive, has greater longevity and reliability and is more portable and compatible with a variety of data formats than hard disk drives (HDDs).

The need for long-term data archive solutions that will endure well into the future is only increasing. Recent advances in the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) and tape libraries from IBM, Oracle, Quantum, Spectra Logic and others are making data access times much faster. In addition, Linear Tape-Open (LTO) standardization, now on its sixth iteration (LTO-6), guarantees data access across devices well into the future.

More Reliable

Consider that the average mean time between failure (MTBF) rates for HDDs average roughly nine years, whereas tape has an MTBF of 46 years. Tape storage also does not require nearly as much power or cooling as spinning disk or HDD since tape moves only when data is being accessed.

Of course, there are a number of reasons why tape storage is the preferred medium for Google and others, including higher capacity, improved performance, lower cost per gigabyte, reduced energy costs, portability, greater reliability, longevity, scalability and compatibility.

Less Expensive

In a blog post for ComputerWorld, Chris Poelker provides a detailed cost analysis of the two different media. Poelker's final word on tape is that it is useful at the low end for backup and at the high end for archives. For smaller companies using less than 20 terabytes of tape backup for disaster recovery, tape comes at a fraction of the cost of disk. He goes on to note that when performance requirements dip below a particular threshold, tape is the clear winner in terms of performance and price.

It's also important to point out that a best practice for migrating data is every five years for disk versus every 10 years for tape — another indication of tape's superior longevity, flexibility and compatibility thanks to LTO standards not forcing customers to upgrade to a new release every three years or so.

Tape and Disaster Recovery

Tape also plays a significant role in offsite disaster recovery scenarios. While most companies now keep a copy of their data on disk locally and, increasingly, in the cloud for faster recovery speed, the offsite tape solution is an additional hedge against a catastrophic disaster at a much lower price point than hard disk solutions can offer. Given the fact that most businesses today are totally dependent on electronically stored data — data being the lifeblood of the enterprise — offsite storage is a small price to pay.

Bottom Line

Iron Mountain recognizes the value of long-term data archive solutions and the need for offsite disaster recovery. With its SecureSync® Tape Management service, Iron Mountain offers clients 24/7 access to their data. SecureSync is automatically available to Offsite Tape Vaulting customers at no additional charge, and Iron Mountain also offers consulting services for customers that need additional help outlining their long-term data archive scenarios and disaster recovery planning.

For most long-term data archive solutions use cases and many disaster recovery scenarios, tape is the superior choice over hard disk drives. Not only is tape more cost-effective, which is sure to put a smile on the face of any CFO, its longer-term reliability is beyond question, which should allow data owners and IT execs rest more easily and find some addition time to focus on driving business innovation.

Do you have questions about data management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Data Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.


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