Tape Backup vs Removable hard drive backup

A suggestion is being made to me regarding changing our backup system from backing up to tapes to backing up to removable hard drives.  What are the pros and cons of this approach?

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tamantiConnect With a Mentor Commented:
It's almost an year that I use 2 HD LaCie 250GB, firewire connected, to backup all data (user, database, mail, server configs). I'm very happy. Fast, no errors, no space problems.
Today HD are cheaper than LTD for my work.

One HD is a little bigger to take away, but it's easier to manage.
Before this year I used 20GB DAT cassettes..... well I could fit in it just 16GB (instead of 40GB declared) since I used data already compressed.
I had to split my database data in 3 cassettes. Six hour to backup it, plus time to manage DAT. Sometimes I got errors and I had to restart from scratch. A lot of time to find data from backup.

Now with rsync and HD I can suspend backup every time and restart it from the same point. Back up are a lot faster. I don't know how, since time is no more a problem. I can find old data even when backupping.

I usually take to work just one HD so I can always have one complete backup out of my firm.

Nightly one server put on his HD all the backups and in the morning I put all that data on one LaCie. I just made a few script to manage everything, deleting old backups, copying news.
Very easy.
Yan_westConnect With a Mentor Commented:
well, if you want to backup via Hard drive, and keep multiple copy of your backup, it would be Awfully expensive. The advantage of doing it on a tape backup is that you can automate the job, and keep some copy of your files in a safe place.

You could buy 10-15 DLT or SDLT tape, and make a rotation of them, Here is what i'm using as a rotation scheme.

Day 1 2 3 4 Friday 1
Day 5 6 7 8 Friday 2
Day 1 2 3 4 Friday 3
Day 5 6 7 8 Month 1

Etc..etc... going up to Month 12.

SO you can get 2 weeks back on weekdays, 3 weeks back on fridays, and 12 month back on yearly basis.

Tape are pretty cheap too... and DLT tape are very reliable.

What is more popular is to backup to disk and then move that to tape.
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FCCU-MISConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I have to backup 12 servers daily and tape is way better then hard drives.
We use a tape library and 2 seprate DLT 80 drives.  They work great.  I also reccomend using one month of tapes:

Mon Week1 2 3 4
Tues Week 1 2 3 4
Weds Week 1 2 3 4
Thurs Wek 1 2 3 4
Fri Week 1 2 3 4
MarkDozierConnect With a Mentor Commented:
IT all depens on you needs. For example I do a weekly backup of each workstation to a hard drive on the network. I also do daily and weekly backups of mission critical files to tape for offsite storage.
I do full weekly backups of my severs to tape for off-site stroage.
You need to find out what your needs are first.
Post your backup strategy and we can help you fine tune it. Then present that to the powers that be for any funding you need.
Management just loves nice neat packages that don't require them to think
desmondgAuthor Commented:

I am doing practically the same thing you are presently.  

Problem is the tape drive I use is reaching its capacity in terms of the amount of data it can back up on one tape and we don't want to have to attend to the backup other than changing tapes in the morning.


you say 'I just made a few script to manage everything, deleting old backups, copying new.'  Do you keep a log of what happens in your backup?  Do you use a scheduler to initiate the backup?  What about SQL Server databases that need the server process to be shut down before the datafiles can be copied?  

Do any of you know of some commercial product that manages backup to hard drives?

And thanks to all for the ccomments.  No doubt the points will have to be split!

> Do you keep a log of what happens in your backup?
> Do you use a scheduler to initiate the backup?

First of all, I do the backup in two steps.
In the night I compress the data to backup to a local hard-disk. This is a slow process. A lot of data have to be compressed. I use gzip or bzip2 to get better compression (slower).
In the morning I connect the LaCie to my desktop and rsync all the data.

I'm on Unix-like OSs (Linux, Solaris, MacOSX). Now I don't have any Windows machine to backup, but when I had I used samba to mount the partition on linux and I did the backup from there.

On Unix systems you can easy schedule the backup with cron and crontab.
I've never used the scheduler on MS Windows, but I know there's one. If not, surly it's not difficult to develop it or find one program on internet.

I used to keep logs of my backup when using tapes. I don't feel the urge to keep logs now. It's all well ordered, in well named directory. Vesy easy to find and always there.

It's useful to have a local copy. Sometimes I don't have any LaCie with me (es: in the afternoon), but I can recover lost files anyway.

> What about SQL Server databases that need the server process to be shut down before the datafiles can be copied?

We use Oracle and hot backup (backup while running). If you have to shutdown your database, you need to synchronize all very well.
Otherway your backup scripts have to shutdown database from remote or stay on the same machine.
If you have to keep short downtime you can make a copy of all the data and then compress the copied data. The downtime is necessary only for the copy that is usually faster then the compress process.

I use one Linux server to manage all the backup. Scripts start from there and use ssh to perform commands on other servers (stop tasks, compress, ...) and scp to transfer backups.
desmondgAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all who contributed.  I will stick to using a tape drive since, although we have the skills in-house to write the scripts to manage the backup to removable disk, we don't have the luxury of time to fully test it.  I prefer to play it safe where the backups are concerned and so without proper testing of the backup scripts I will stick to the time-tested practice of using tapes.  Thanks again.
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