While tape backup has been around for over 68 years, today’s tape is much improved. Consider that the first generation of LTO, LTO 1, came with just 100GB of data capacity and had a maximum transfer rate of 20MB/sec. Today’s latest LTO 8 generation transfers data at 750MB/sec and offers 12 TB uncompressed, a speed much higher than all fastest enterprise hard disk drives.
The other best point is that LTO tape is specially built for data backups and archives. It’s not designed to be randomly accessed data for normal use or with a focus on high speed, but rather reliability and longevity. Actually, LTO tape has a bit error rate of about 1016, an order of magnitude higher than enterprise SAS/FC disk, and double higher than SATA drives. Backup Tape drives also read just after they write to prove it was written correctly, and the magnetic medium on which tape data is stored is more stable than disk.
Many LTO tape resellers and salespeople proclaim that tape backup is unreliable, and that up to 70% of tape restores fail, but that is neither our experience at ODSI.co.uk nor the experience of our clients. There may very well be some tape recovery failures, but they are almost always related to a site that rarely, if ever, tested recoveries until they needed them. Regardless of which storage medium you use to protect your organization, you must take backups regularly go for precautionary measures time to time. Without thorough testing, your organization has little chance of success when a real event takes place.
Benefits of Data Backup Tape
- Speed per backup tape (LTO8 750MB/sec)
- Easily transportable
- Lower power consumption
- Higher media reliability
- Long term drive availability (~10 years)
- Long media life (20-30 years)
Everyone talks about Green storage medium these days, including IT industry, and LTO tapes are better here in most cases as well than other storage devices. While idle hard disk drives take nearly as much power as when in use, un-mounted, idle LTO tapes use no power at all. Adding on, you are likely to have just a few tape drives for operating hundreds of backup tapes, each of which uses about 1-3 times the power of a hard drive in use.
Hence, if you have 3 backup tape drives operating full time for your organization, you may use about nine hard disk drives worth of power; however, you can store as much data as hundreds of hard drives. This results in a magical power use drop for data that can be moved to tape.