In many companies, there’s a distinct
difference between a company’s ideal business continuity strategy
and how those plans play out in reality. One of the most prevalent disaster recovery (DR) myths is the
belief that tape backups are a sufficient DR solution for most
companies. While some organizations can indeed rely on a tape-based
system for their recovery needs, those businesses are few and far
A corollary to this myth is some companies’
belief that once they’ve performed tape backups, they’re free and
clear. But unfortunately, many organizations use tape backups
ineffectively at best and improperly at worst.
Companies should use a recovery point objective
(RPO) to determine how much data they can potentially lose during
any given disaster. For example, if users update data in a
real-time application (such as a Web-based purchasing system), your
RTO should be as close to zero as possible (within the limitations
of your systems). But if these systems save data infrequently (such
as a file server used mostly for read-only files), your RPO can be
24 hours or more.
If your RPO really is 24 hours or more, your
organization can potentially use tape backup as its sole DR
solution. However, it’s imperative that you follow best practices,
including moving tapes off-site on a regular basis and performing
test restorations from the tapes to ensure data integrity.
If your company’s RPO is less than 24 hours,
don’t rely on tape as your sole DR solution. It’s too risky to
depend on a tape backup that more than likely occurs just once a
day; if a system goes down before the backup window, you could
easily lose an entire day’s worth of data.
Instead of tape backups, begin investigating
data replication solutions. Available for a great range of prices,
these tools generally offer the ability to fail over to other
servers and perform additional tasks.
The closer your RPO gets to zero data loss, the
more expensive your DR solution will likely become. Keep in mind
that solutions that ensure absolutely zero data loss nearly always
require large-scale disk-based storage arrays and much more
bandwidth than other types of data-protection systems. However,
bumping up an RPO to anywhere from a few minutes to several hours
can expand your options dramatically.
It’s vital that your organization recognizes
and understands both the benefits and the risks of using only tape
backup as a DR solution. Relying solely on tape backups,
particularly if you’re not using them effectively, can give your
business a false sense of security about its disaster recovery
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