Written by Steve Smith
It’s hardly an earth-shattering statement, but a chain really is only as strong as its weakest link. It’s a proverb everyone is very familiar with, and it’s one I use every single day when I’m talking to businesses about their IT and the security of their infrastructure. It’s certainly something that hurtles into the conversation with great intent when I’m told that a business still uses tape drives to back up their servers….
Tape BackUp was fantastic when it first launched on an unsuspecting IT audience and it left people awestruck as to how effective it was in copying information. However, this was in the early 1950’s when people were astonished at the installation of indoor toilets, so we need be very aware of what “shooting for the moon” meant back then. Give the technology it’s due though as it’s survived in various iterations for seven decades and been through such safe hands as HP, IBM, Sony and 3M. As with us all, it is now seriously showing its age.
The technology itself isn’t the issue, it’s more the need for human interaction that makes backing up with tape the weak link in the chain. Having an entire business and its information in the hands of a single employee, tasked with changing the tape every night, is brave. And that’s if I’m being kind.
It defeats a fair percentage of the point in backing up in the first place if your tapes are just chucked back in the box from whence they came. If I had a pound for every time I ejected a tape from a backup drive and it showed the wrong day on it, I’d have enough to buy a small pacific island.
There are many backup options available and a number of onsite solutions that have considerable benefits over tape backup. They are faster, more reliable and can be scheduled to backup multiple times per day. However, onsite solutions backup to removable hard drives means – yes you’ve guessed it – humans are again responsible for swapping the drives around. Still, great products with no huge capital outlay and a month by month contract, if you’re 100% confident you trust your team to swap the drives….
For many businesses, the best option is to backup to the Cloud. As with any “best” solution, there is a financial downside if it’s considered a cost, but a huge upside if you consider the money spent as an investment. Cloud storage is efficient and reliable, but it can also be scaled up or down easily depending on the needs of the business. Some of the best solutions not only provide confirmation of a working backup but the ability, and proof, that the business can be operating again after catastrophic failure in frightening quick time.
Rather than having disaster recovery, which may take a day or more to recover from, you can have actual business continuity We like the products from Datto, as they have performed wonderfully well for us under rigorous internal testing and have rave reviews from the clients we have placed their products into.
It’s not only ourselves and our clients who love the solutions. Datto were recently awarded Business Continuity Product of the Year for their SIRIS 3 solution.
If you still use tape, or any kind of onsite backups, I ask you to think about the people in your business that are tasked with changing the tape or drive. Are you comfortable with them having your entire business literally in the palm of their hands? Because without a flawless backup strategy, that’s precisely what you are doing. Brave? Confident? Or something else entirely?
If you would like to talk over your backup strategy, business continuity planning, or anything related to your IT systems, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll do what we can to steer you in the right direction.