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Randy George
Randy George
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Has Your Storage Provider Lost Your Backup Tapes Yet?

Is there anything more infuriating than your off-site storage provider losing your backup tapes? Isn't that their primary function?!?

Is there anything more infuriating than your off-site storage provider losing your backup tapes? I mean, ISN'T THAT THEIR PRIMARY BUSINESS FUNCTION!? I guess I shouldn't bark too loud, I've been known to lose a thumb drive or two. But there's a big difference -- my thumb drives never contain the personal banking information of millions of customers, like the unencrypted backup tapes lost from the Bank of New York Mellon did recently. I always learn from the pain of others, and the data loss at the Mellon Bank of NY definitely reminds me of some things to do, and some things not to do. Clearly, one thing not to do is send your data off with a third party, unencrypted. It's bad enough that many of us need to rely on third parties to store and manage the critical data on our storage media, let's not make it so easy to rip the data off our tapes when they fall out of the truck. Here's one thing TO DO -- consider using online backup storage as your primary off-site data transport.

The degree to which many companies still back off to tape perplexes me. Obviously, you can't eliminate back tapes completely, but there's a huge cost associated with managing a large rotation of backup tapes. That's not to say that online providers of backup storage are cheap, but there are certainly some major benefits and efficiencies to be had via off-site electronic backups.

I admit that I'm biased. I just hate how slow and clunky tape technology is compared with online backup storage, so I've gravitated to off-site backup technology like a moth to a bug zapper. And I'm certainly not alone, because even the behemoth that is Iron Mountain is now in the business.

The loss of data by third parties, like what happened at the Mellon Bank of NY, is a walking white paper for the reasons that the off-site electronic storage industry has absolutely exploded. Just google "off-site backup storage" and you'll find a vast array of service providers who are dying to get your business. So what does it actually cost to use an all digital storage provider? We solicited a quote from one of the market leaders in this space, AmeriVault, and received a price of $1,185 a month to store 250 GB of data off-site. Like most other providers, AmeriVault sends only the delta of file changes, so WAN utilization after the initial backup is reduced dramatically.

And $14,000 per year is obviously not cheap, but compare that with the ongoing hardware, software, maintenance, and management costs associated with jockeying tapes all over the place, and you have yourself a viable cost-justification argument for management. On top of that, you get quick encryption and restore, and you reduce the use of tape-dropping off-site storage providers!

Randy George has covered a wide range of network infrastructure and information security topics in his 4 years as a regular InformationWeek and Network Computing contributor. He has 13 years of experience in enterprise IT, and has spent the last 8 years working as a ... View Full Bio
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