Backup Masters: Three Streamers at 10, 50 and 100 GB


Streamers have always been considered very special and somehow exotic hardware. The first desktop models were attached to either the floppy controller or to a SCSI controller. With the increase of hard drive capacities and the incredible success of the CD, most home users cannot even remember the existance of the good old backup-hardware called streamer.

Indeed, most users nowadays prefer to use CD-RWs or CD-Rs to backup important data for a number of reasons above all, CD recorders have become inexpensive and affordable for the average user. Also, the process of recording a CD is quite easy in that it is very similar to copying files on a hard drive. In addition, it can be used for many more tasks than simple data backups. The CD itself is, of course, very portable, letting you easily copy your data to any computer that has a CD-ROM drive.

Streamer Basics

Streamers do not have the flexibility and portability advantages mentioned above. The tape is usually written sequentially, which makes it more time-consuming to access files, since you would have to manually forward the tape to the location on the desired data. However, this inconvenience is normally not an issue with streamers, because they are typically used to backup and transfer large quantities of data in their entirety, not individal parts of data. Generally, streamer tapes have a large storage capacity, so that huge backups can run unattended, which is a definite advantage over CD-Rs as a backup medium. For example, if you had to backup 3 GB of data onto CD-Rs, you would have to change the CD five times.