Online versus tape back up -  which solution is best for my company?

We get this question a lot when discussing different backup solutions. People face many choices today when choosing a backup method.  The two main categories of backup solutions most used by small businesses are traditional tape-based backup and online backup solutions.

secure your data with a Gravity Systems backup solution

Tape backup systems have evolved a bit from the days when companies hired a staff person just to rotate tapes all day in order to get the day’s data archived.  However, the basic principals have remained the same.  You still have some sort of tape drive or chassis that accepts removable media ‘tapes’ onto which the backup copy of the data is written.  In the current environment, these “tapes” can be traditional tape cartridges resembling an 8 track or cassette tape, or they can be based on hard-drive technology where each “tape” holds either a functioning hard drive or the “platter” portions of a hard drive.

Online backups work much like they sound: the data from the protected computer is transmitted over an encrypted connection via the Internet to the service or server onto which the archive data will be stored.  A useful feature of current backup technology is incremental or “delta” backups that don’t retransmit the entire data set, or, in some cases, even the entire file that has changed.  Instead, the solution just uploads the actual changes in the data, resulting in a shorter backup window.  This is especially important on slower business class and consumer networks with asymmetrical bandwidth (the upload is slower than the download). 

What are the first things you need to think about when deciding whether to use online or a traditional backup? Size of the data to be backed up is of paramount importance.  If you have 900 GB, it may be prohibitively expensive to try to use online backup, whereas it may all fit on one tape each night.  The next thing to consider is how much data changes each day.  Even if you have a relatively small amount of data (20-50 GB or so), if you change a majority or even half of that data on a frequent basis, it is likely that your online backup will never complete!  Versioning is another issue to consider.  A good tape rotation might give you 5 to 10 previous versions of a file.  Online backup can give you even more, but you will be charged for the additional storage the extra copies use.

Gravity Systems is a registered partner and reseller of tape backup systems.  We also host Gravity Systems Online Backup Solution.

We would suggest giving us a call to discuss the options in more detail and to decide which method works for you.  Please CONTACT US for more information or to schedule a consultation.

What else is out there?  Other options for backup include CDP (continuous data protection), server imaging, server imaging with “restore anywhere” functionality, hot failover and more.  Please give us a shout to see if one of these newer or specialized technologies might be right for your business.



The Gravity Systems Team