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Guest view: Tape storage expertise still largely relevant

CK Lee | June 11, 2013
What businesses should think of before embarking on a tape archiving strategy.

What businesses should think of before embarking on a tape archiving strategy

There are ways to prevent and save time dealing with the woes created by tape. Below are five tips to future proof legacy tape archives and eliminate risks to customer or company data:

 1.      Know what storage technology you have in-house

Bring order to the storage by archiving, knowing what resides in what format, deduplicating and upgrading current hardware. It is also worthwhile to move data from outdated tape storage to better and more affordable storage types, which reduces the risk of having to juggle too many storage formats and technologies.

2.      Assess the health of your tape archive

Conducting periodic checks helps minimise late or last minute discovery of damaged tapes. This ensures that the required data is still available in times of a crisis or when data requests are time-sensitive. Additionally, what was previously written on old tapes may be legacy data that is no longer useful. Such data not only takes up additional storage resources, it also poses additional burden on IT specialists that are tasked to maintain and manage the data. This is why it is also important to check on the IT department's ability to work with tape.

3.      Verify staff skills and the time required to access legacy data

This also includes checks on whether the IT department has maintained the software or drivers required to read the old tapes. This assessment should help decision-makers weigh-in on whether to continue investing in obsolete technology or find an external vendor to maintain their system. Not having a plan or consistent maintenance contract for tape storage could result in expensive and time-consuming ad hoc restoration efforts. This becomes increasingly important in the case of a crisis or for litigation situations.


4.      Save money by retiring obsolete tech but make room for plan B

Data migration is risky and companies should always consider a back-up or potential restoration plan while undergoing data migration. One way to ensure legacy data is always accessible is to engage the help if a tape restoration organisation. Such experts are trained to help keep migration costs low, while providing a pre-defined number of restores at a faster and more efficient pace.



5.      Enforce retention and retirement policies

Establish and enforce a retention policy so data is not kept longer than necessary. However, be careful to comply with relevant document retention regulations and that all disposed data is complete erased by using eraser software or a degaussing solution.




IDC also reports that many companies scaled back or postponed investment in backup and recovery during the economic crisis of 2008/09. However, data volumes continued to grow amidst the need to curtail spending on data lifecycle management.


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