Are most companies still backing up to tape?
Most companies still backup to tape, however tape's role in backup strategy is changing.
Historically, tape backup coupled with offsite tape storage was the best and only alternative for disaster recovery preparation. Today other alternatives involving disc-based backup are being combined with tape to make backup more thorough and to make recovery faster and more efficient.
Hot sites with data replication
Companies with large IT budgets and continuous up time needs often have hot sites to which their data is replicated. If their primary data center goes down, their hot site comes online with no delay or data loss.
Many of these companies continue to backup to tape as a low cost last line of defense against data loss - for example, to protect against employee sabotage and malicious hacking.
Tape backups provide the added benefit of allowing recovery of data from much earlier time periods, protecting against situations where an undetected error is introduced on both the primary servers and the replicated servers and not discovered until much later.
Like tape backups, disc-to-disc backups involve creating data snapshots at particular points in time, allowing for recovery of files from earlier time periods.
Being attached to the network, however, disc backups offer faster and more efficient file recoveries than tape. Some disc backup programs also offer continuous data protection and rollback ability, which tape doesn't offer.
Nevertheless, many companies employing disc-to-disc backup still use tape for longer term archives and to protect against employee sabotage and malicious hacking. In addition to being a much less expensive option than allowing long term archive data sets to accumulate on costly and power-consuming disc, tape provides a last line of defense that is both offline and offsite.
Online backup, which is a variant of disc-to-disc backup that results in data being backed up offsite in the cloud, allows for fast individual file retrieval and also moves data offsite in preparation for disaster.
However, the high cost of online backup usually makes it attractive only where very limited quantities of data are involved - such as for personal computers.
Further, data security concerns continue to challenge the cloud storage model - as many companies are still uncomfortable putting sensitive information onto shared infrastructure.
Lastly, recovering large quantities of data from online backup in case of a major disaster is more complicated and time consuming than recovering from tape. Before you can restore your data, your vendor has to obtain portable media capable of holding all of your data, burn your data to the media and then ship the media to your restore location.