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The State of Data Backup Protection


For most of the past 20 years, making backups has involved a potentially incendiary combination of tedium and little opportunity for reward, plus high career risk if things go south. The only variation to this routine occurs when vendors try to get us excited with new versions of the same backup software or bigger, faster tape drives. Year after year we back up from disk to tape, and when it comes time to restore, we search for the right tapes. Whoopee.

But now, two trends have combined to bring big changes to backup technology. Vastly decreased costs for both disk drives and bandwidth make it worthwhile to reconsider your backup setup. It might be a pain in the neck, but maturing technologies, such as VTLs (Virtual Tape Libraries), and increasingly intelligent backup software have "evolutionized" corporate backup.

The first trend is the free fall in the cost of high-capacity ATA and SATA disk drives and arrays. Keeping a gigabyte of data on disk once cost 10 times as much as storing the same data near-line in a tape library. Since disk costs have fallen faster than tape costs, the difference in now less than 5-to-1.

Not only are SATA drives much less expensive than the Fibre Channel and SCSI drives used to host high-performance applications, the sequential nature of writing backups to disk plays to their strengths. High-performance drives have intelligent-command queuing,

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