Windows Server 2008

Solving offsite tape storage issues with ‘ejectable’ disk backup drives

Tape backups have been around for a very, very long time. We’re used to them by now, and although they serve their main purpose they do have their limitations. Tape backups haven’t progressed with the rest of technology and we’re paying the price.

For one, tapes just don’t have enough capacity. The best you can get out of a tape is a few hundred gigabytes; that’s not very cost effective. Many tapes also don’t last all that long, most need to be replaced after just nine months which again, drives up the cost of using them for backup.

Another major issue with backup tapes is how much time they take up. With a tape your data is accessed sequentially. A hard drive can move its heads to any random part of the disk in practically no time at all, but a tape drive spends all it’s time winding the tape just to read the particular piece of data that you’re looking for. This also means that tapes take up a lot of time during the restore process; in fact, if you’re trying to restore your entire server a tape restore will take longer than a backup.

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From issues such as speed, reliability, retention and tracking it’s obvious that tapes that won’t be around for a very long time.

So what is the solution?

The solution is rather simple and very common sense: since we store our data on disk, backing up to a disk is really the best option.

Disks are always online and any part of your data can be accessed at any time. This is a huge time saver and eliminates the frustration of only being able to get to your data sequentially. You’re also saving time during the restore process, which is much faster with disks than with tapes.

But what if you need to ship your backup disks offsite as you did with tapes; is this possible? Can disks really be the solution to offsite tape storage issues? As you can tell from the title of this article the answer is in “ejectable” disk backup drives from Idealstor.

The advantage of this unique product is its portability. In fact, these “ejectable” disks combine the benefits of tapes and disks into a single, unique entity that outshines its competitors.

Here are just some of the benefits of Idealstor “ejectable” disk backup:

  • Maximum storage capacity – we’re talking terabytes here
  • Complete backup appliance for any OS
  • Includes management software to intelligently handle removal and insertion of SATA media to ensure data integrity and successful backups
  • D2D backups – backups can be done directly to disk instead of how most backups are done (D2D2T – disk to disk then to tape)
  • Single instance storage – a complete backup with no merging of archival or incremental data
  • Allows for multiple backups and restores – that can be run at the same time
  • Safe portability – disks are protected in a rugged case and padded carrying case for sage offsite transport and storage
  • Forward compatible – has the ability to use any capacity SATA disk as removable media
  • Lower TCO – total cost of ownership is much lower as compared to tapes
  • And you can still use your existing backup software if you don’t want to use theirs – but I would recommend checking out their software, it has some pretty cool features and capabilities, especially if you’re working on a Windows Server ( you can get a free 30 day trial from the Idealstor website)

So how do these “ejectable” disks work? I always thought hard disks were extremely fragile, and they are, but Idealstor managed to engineer a system that makes this work. The disks aren’t indestructible, but they’re just as protected as tapes.

The ideal small business backup solution

I see Idealstor products as a perfect solution for small businesses that are currently using tapes and want to switch to a more efficient, more reliable and more cost effective backup system.

In my research, I came across the Teralyte, which is targeted specifically to small businesses and companies that are considering moving to disk backups but have the need to continue to store their data offsite.

Here’s what the Teralyte looks like:

The cool part is that all you have to do is attach it directly to your server and you’re ready to backup your data to removable disks, which then can be removed for offsite storage. You also get plenty of flexibility in regards to your choice of disks; since they’re using non-proprietary hard drives you can use any capacity or manufacturer SATA disks.

The Teralyte, as the site points out, is “designed to replace your existing tape drive by offering 1 and 2 drive solutions that can use any capacity SATA disk on the market as removable disk media – currently up to 1.5TB per Idealstor drive bay”.  The system that allows for 1.5TB of removable disk space starts at $1995, but you do have the option of getting the 3TB version for an additional fee (which reportedly costs less than an LTO-3 drive).

You can find more information about the Idealstor Teralyte products at their website.

Is this the ideal backup system to get you off of your tape habit?

I hope so and I would recommend it, but you have to see for yourself. To help you make an informed decision I’m including some useful links on:

To me it looks like technology has finally caught up to the old tape backups providing us with improved reliability, capacity, speed, ease of use, and functionality. But you should really see if this is the right product for you and your organization.

About Kasia Grabowska

Kasia Grabowska is the editor and web manager of Train Signal Training, a technical blog for IT professionals that offers how to articles, certification information, important IT news and free computer training videos. Kasia has written articles on a number of articles covering news, certification information and Microsoft Office topics.

About David Davis

David Davis (CCIE #9369, VCP, CWNA, MCSE, CISSP, Linux+, CEH) is the Director of Infrastructure at Train Signal, Inc. He has written hundreds of articles and six video training courses – including the Train Signal VMware ESX Video training series. His websites are www.HappyRouter.com and www.VMwareVideos.com

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