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Tape Storage Solution Suggestion

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August 13, 2009 7:03:46 AM

Hi,

lately I am researching a new Tape Drive storage solution for our needs, but I would also like an advice of an expert community which Tom's Hardware sure is. On each storage media we will save around 200 GB of data, the backup plan is as follows:
daily backups with retention rate of 1 week
weekly backups with retention rate of 1 month
monthly backups with retention rate of 6 months

Which tape storage technology/solution would best suit our needs? Especcially appreciated are your arguments why do you perfere one technology over another.
a c 415 G Storage
August 13, 2009 3:00:40 PM

IMHO, tape storage is rather finicky and for relatively low data volumes it's just not worth it. For 200GB with the rotation as you've described, you could easily achieve your goals using six 1TB hard drives, with two alternating for daily backups, two for weekly and two for monthly. And that would probably be considerably cheaper than a tape solution when you include the media and drive cost. And you have the advantage that you can restore the data on any computer without requiring the same tape drive, an important consideration for disaster planning.

The biggest drawback of using hard drives is their relatively low transfer rate compared with something like LTO (particularly if you use USB drives).

Hard drives are often seen as more fragile than tape, but they're pretty robust when powered down - especially if you get the type which unload the heads from the media. And disks aren't subject to the fairly severe limitations on reuse that tapes are.
August 14, 2009 7:25:16 AM

Thanks for your reply. I was considering the usage of hard drives by myselfe. We are using DPM 2007 as backup solution (changing the sowftware is simply not an option), which natively does not support USB drives (apparently there should be a MS partner which sells a solution for that kind of disks), but USB drives are not secure enough (to high possibility of data loss and/or errors).

Seems like only SATA drives come into consideration. Buying SATA disks is sure cheaper than tape drive + tapes, but would you please explain me how you would set this kind of backup in DPM 2007? The tape or "disk" rotation will stay the same as stated in my first post + all data is also backed up on a disk array allready (short-term backups, with retention period of 10 days, 3 recovery points per day).

I am not a DPM guru, but as I know, it is impossible to use something else then tapes in that case. DPM does not let you create overlapping backup groups (e.g. you cannot backup drive SQL\D: in 2 different groups, one group stored on the short-term disk array and another on additional SATA drive for external storage), on the other hand you do not have the possibility to store one backup group on two separate disks (or disk arrays). And for long-term backup you cannot use anything else than tapes.
If I would somehow manage to get DPM to backup data despite all the problems mentioned, the question is how would I then be able to restore the data? (We are not backing up just the bare files, we are also using DPMs support for application backups - Enterprise DPM).
Please correct me if I am wrong and show me how this can be managed with DPM 2007 or address me to the location where I can find more info about it. Or simply just suggest what kind of tape solution would be best suited for our needs.
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August 14, 2009 12:20:35 PM

Tape storage solutions are on their way out due to their costs per GB. Most companies that were using tape in the past have migrated to NAS. Look into it as it may be a viable solution.
a c 415 G Storage
August 14, 2009 9:09:18 PM

zwar said:
but USB drives are not secure enough (to high possibility of data loss and/or errors). Seems like only SATA drives come into consideration.
These days the disks inside a USB enclosure are SATA drives anyway - there's really no difference in terms of reliability between the two. In fact the USB connector is more robust than the SATA connector (although I don't know how it compares to the eSATA connector).

Sorry, can't help you regarding your backup software. You should probably try to find a backup-specific forum to discuss those issues.
August 17, 2009 8:29:21 AM

Thanks for the posts guys. I appreciate your concern about the high costs the tapes may provide for us and the way NAS can be used instead. I also admit, sminlal is right, questions about DPM are just not suitable for this forum, so let's forget about it and get back to subject.

The original question was which tape drive to use for the rotation plan provided in my first post. Please concentrate on this question alone, since discussion disks vs. tapes is uneeded. If someone wants to discuss it, I suggest opening another thread.
a c 415 G Storage
August 17, 2009 6:37:53 PM

zwar said:
Thanks for the posts guys. I appreciate your concern about the high costs the tapes may provide for us and the way NAS can be used instead. I also admit, sminlal is right, questions about DPM are just not suitable for this forum, so let's forget about it and get back to subject.

The original question was which tape drive to use for the rotation plan provided in my first post. Please concentrate on this question alone, since discussion disks vs. tapes is uneeded. If someone wants to discuss it, I suggest opening another thread.


Well, from the information you provided you basically need a tape system which stores 200GB per cartridge. If you haven't inflated the storage requirements already, I'd probably increase that to 500GB or so per cartridge to allow for future growth.

Beyond that, you haven't said whether speed or cost is the more important factor, which could make a difference to which solution you'd buy.

I've been out of the game for a few years now, but it seems like LTO is the de facto standard for commercial tape technology these days. IMHO you'd probably need a fairly compelling reason NOT to choose that format.
October 19, 2009 11:20:43 PM

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