General discussion


Why you can't rely only on tape backups

By MaryWeilage Editor ·
Do you agree with Mike Talon that most organizations shouldn't rely on tape backups as their sole disaster recovery solutions? Are tape backups part of your company's DR solution? Share your comments about the dangers of relying only on tape backups, as discussed in the Feb. 8 Disaster Recovery newsletter.

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The BIT Lie

by mdm In reply to Why you can't rely only o ...

Tape backup has been one of the IT industry's biggest lies. Over and over and over have i found situations in small businesses where tape backup is unreliable.

Successful backup requires backup management. It requires awareness of the backup process. Tape backup provides an 'Ostrich' approach so no one has to be accountable when the 'chips are down'.

The tapbe backup orientation is so complete that resistance to alternative, workable solutions are difficult to percieve. I sometimes wonder how many millions or billions of dollars have been spent on tape backup solutions that don't work.

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Horses for courses

by nick.field In reply to The BIT Lie

The backup strategy needs to reflect the type of system. For instance, if you have newish common server hardware and little data changes (eg: an application server), then a disk image might be a better proposition and easier and faster to restore. For small single disk machines (eg: antivirus gateway), you could even consider imaging to a spare hard drive. However for backing up a critical accounts SQL server, you might consider using an enterprise level backup and DR system, like Tivoli, but also use a server DDS for additional SQL dumps.
In the end, it's hard to get away from tape storage when you need to keep multiple versions of data and also be able to store offsite for DR.
Always try to minimise the problem by minimising the volumes of data. Does all that stuff really need to be on the server, can some be archived off to DVD/CD?

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Preachin' to the Choir

by pstirn In reply to The BIT Lie

Mike Talon?s words ring true. Having learned valuable lessons thru failed recovery attempts, I agree that we've been lemmings (and have been jumping into the "Yeah, I trust that to be a good backup" River too many times). Live and Learn. I've learned that brick layer backups on my Exchange server meant I could restore a single mailbox (where an Information Store backup meant I'd have to rebuild another off-line server and restore the IS to it just to find out how horrible that procedure is!). But I had to spend a little more cash to use Veritas?s Backup Exec to make that work. I've learned that a Blackboard server (where our students' work demands an RPO of ZERO SECONDS!) needs a failover, and we will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get there. It can't be helped. I?ve learned that Ghost can work with my tape drive and give me a recoverable image that restores like a charm. But I have to be smart enough to know which systems have critical RPO and which don?t to make Ghost valuable. And I've learned that I have to make SQL work for me, not against my tape backup. I am making SQL run its database backup to disk and then my daily tape backup can pick up the valuable closed files. Unfortunately, I?ve learned all of these things the hard way: lost data. I am looking forward to my college?s purchase of a SAN and to implementing shadow copies. We just need new tools to manage a reliable backup, and maybe tape will continue to play a part. I just won?t rely on tape as I used to.

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by house In reply to Why you can't rely only o ...

...through raid configurations, on site tape backups, and off site duplicates. NP.

You should also take warning of the suggested life cycle of your tapes, and subtract about 10% -> 20%.


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Tape Back Up

by sburns1968 In reply to Why you can't rely only o ...

I agree. Anybody using tape back up is not thinking about restoring informaion. It is all or nothing restore and usually nothing. Other methods offer data segments to be restored without restoring everything. So, yes think before you put your data on the brink of no return.

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About time

by NBP Backup In reply to Why you can't rely only o ...

While I respect mr. Talon's view, I am glad he has finally recognized and admitted the inadequacies of tape backups. For years he has been promoting a strategy in his columns that is simply unworkable for many companies and for a variety of reasons. I would like to point out, that, to my knowledge, he has never really addressed e-vaulting as a viable backup solution. Why?

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Tape is a disaster waiting to happen

by marcpen In reply to Why you can't rely only o ...

My biggest client had a tape backup system when I took over doing their IT. I've never trusted these wretched things and I didn't trust this one. I made sure the backups were done and I regularly tested restoring various files. It worked, but I still didn't trust it.
So, without the client knowing, I implimented a secondary solution of my own: a cross-network backup to copy everything to a secured folder on a workstation with a bit of spare hard drive capacity, using a simple dos xcopy command and run as a sheduled event every night. I simply told the workstation's owner that I wanted it left on at night.
Last month the server data drive died.
The backup software (Novaback) took three hours rebuilding the tape index then announced that it was unable to locate the data on the tape.
With my line manager now close to tears, I let on about the second backup I'd been taking. It took an hour to restore it and the data lost was a mere two hours.
I wouldn't touch a tape backup again, given the choice. I've since built this client a backup server out of a redundant PII 400 machine with a nice new big hard drive. My dos routines take separate copies of all the data for Monday through Friday, and the pc is located in the building adjacent to the one containing the main server just in case of fire or burglary - truly off-site, and completely automatic. The whole backup solution cost less than one 40Gb backup tape. And, it works!

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But tape should be part of the DR plan

by Dennis.Rhine In reply to Why you can't rely only o ...

I noted that you stated that you can't rely ONLY on tape and I agree. However, I have had many successful restores from tape and still use them today - for part of the DR plan. I also use disk copies, a SAN (data is mirrored to the SAN), and HSM to remove stale files from the server while not making them completely dead.

The answer to the DR issues should include many different types of solutions depending upon the type of data. This can go all the way up to redundent servers with automatic fail-over and all the way down to tape and DR or DVD burning.

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surviving your important data

by masfarahnak In reply to Why you can't rely only o ...

Dear sir or mam,
Yes, In these days relying just to the tape backup is an disaster way to choose for backing up.
In our company we lost our data one time during a day when we hadn't any backup from our data .
So it is important to have a replication backup during a day.

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