Alternatives to Tape Backup

Contributed by James Fohl

Alternatives to Tape Backup

While tape backup systems have been in use for the past twenty years, the amount of use such systems have had has been increasingly winding down. Reasons for this range from the slow speed of tape backup devices, to the overall reliability of the devices.

While tape backup systems have different capacities ranging from ten megabytes to ten gigabytes and beyond, the fact remains that they are incredibly slow, not exactly the most reliable way to store computer data, and increasingly difficult to locate.



Creating a backup of ten gigabytes to a tape drive can take several hours. Not only that, but tapes can easily be damaged by magnetic waves, such as those found in metal detectors. With such a slow transfer speed and potential data loss problem, don't you think you should look into tape backup alternatives?

External hard drives are now available with large amounts of backup space, and speeds that traditional tape systems can not compare to.

First off, external hard drives now have wonderful capacities. You can easily gain access to an external drive capable of two hundred gigabytes of storage space. Using an external hard drive for backup purposes is not just safer, but also much, much faster. An external hard drive can easily connect to a system via USB 2.0, Firewire, or even through a network connection. All three of these connection methods will result in file transfers that are many times faster than a traditional tape backup.

Besides external hard drives, you can always look into purchasing backup file servers. With these servers, you can easily add several large hard drives to the backup file server to easily allow many backups to be created.

External hard drives and file servers cost more than tape backup hardware, however they are more reliable and faster.

While purchasing servers and extra hard drives cost a lot more than traditional tape backup systems, they are far more reliable, and as mentioned before literally hundreds of times faster.

While magnetic tape backup systems are still essential for very large corporations, smaller institutes requiring backups of smaller amounts of data are better off to stick with external hard drives or backup file servers.

Home users do not really need tape backup solutions for their data when optical devices such as DVD and CD burners exist.

For home users dealing with large files, tape backup options are not necessary for you. DVD burners offer users an impressive 4.7 gigabytes of space on each blank DVD-R. This is plenty of space for home users, and a great option since you can buy a complete spindle of DVD-R discs for the same price a user would pay for one piece of tape backup media.

While it may seem like the day of tape backup systems have come to pass, the truth is several corporations still rely on tape backup systems for their backup needs. As hard drive technology continues to improve, perhaps some day the price of external hard drives will rival the price of tape backup cartridges.

James Fohl is a contributor at Free-backup.info -- the home of the popular Amazon S3 based online backup solution -- Back2zip. This article is also at http://free-backup.info/alternatives-to-tape-backup.html

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