The Disk vs. Tape Ping Pong

This article is a guest post by Mamush Heayie

Disk Backup vs. Tape Backup – which one is better?

There are many loud declamations out there asserting the superiority of the disk over the tape and declaring that the tape is outdated technology that has no use in the modern data center. The doomsayers are well matched as tape backup die-hards down cry the disk and defend the tape. The ping pong can be confusing and even trying. So what is the truth?

Cloud backup and recovery service providers argue that disk storage changes the perspective on data storage. A number of tools are being used to manage backup data in the cloud. Unlike tape, disk based data is easily accessible at all times of the day or the night and data management is simpler. The data can be fetched, moved, archived or discarded with or without human intervention by merely tweaking parameters in the software settings. Data can be accessed from anywhere, any time and from any device. In short, data can be truly “managed” for optimal use of available space and improved business productivity.

So, cloud backups are hailed as the smarter way to go. Service providers point out that data backed up into tapes are often unrecoverable as proprietary technologies are used in the read write operation and recovery demands the use of the same technology. Moreover, data copied on tapes is never really “managed”. The data remains on the tape until it is overwritten and the tape itself is discarded when it is worn out. Taking a proactive approach to managing data on tapes requires investment of time and resources—which enterprises can ill afford.

But, it must be remembered that the cloud is set out to conquer the market as an IT resources consumption model. So, cloud backup and recovery service providers must be willing to support the tape. When the cloud is stripped down into its component parts, it stands revealed as an amalgamation of various types of IT resources available with the organization. So, do you exclude the tape from the set of reusable IT resources? Tape should be just as relevant as other IT components!

While cloud backup service providers may prefer to wean their customers from using tapes, some have married it to their software. They have come to realize that tape cannot be ignored. Tapes might have some advantages, including offsite portability in case of disasters –albeit slowly, less vulnerability to virus attacks, and suitability for long term archiving. Cloud customers, who have previously stored data in tapes, have to be supported. Customers, who want to archive their information to tapes or create their local copies of data in tape, must be supported. There is a subtle and persistent demand for tape-in-the-cloud and the cloud backup and recovery (BURR) has come to recognize it.

About the Author: Mamush Heayie is Managing Editor at – a leading informational website for the cloud backup and data storage industry.

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