Target These Common Problem Areas to Make Backup Tape Storage More Efficient

By Michael
October 5, 2015

Backup storage has been around for decades, a unique example of a legacy technology that has remained relevant to commercial IT by keeping up with the constraints of modern technology. This  impression has fed into the misconception that tape storage training can be taken for granted. In reality, new hires fresh from graduation and veteran professionals alike can benefit from a refresher on how to make tape storage as cost-effective and reliable as possible. Use the following list of common backup tape storage failures to determine where your IT team needs to make rapid improvements.

Care and handling can’t be ignored
One of the most common causes of backup storage failure has less to do with the technology itself and more to do with the attitudes and policies surrounding how tapes are handled. IT teams that regularly drop tapes, mire their exteriors with fingerprints and food particles or store tapes carelessly are going to get significantly less use out of their media than companies that deploy a careful routine. According to Council on Library and Information Resources, IT teams must also remember that backup tapes are vulnerable to strong magnetic fields. Ensuring that these expectations are respected by the entire company will make a big difference in terms of eliminating tape failure.

Expiration dates eventually require attention
It’s easy to forget that backup tapes come with an expiration date, in particularly because they are capable of reliably storing data for so long. All good things must come to an end, however. Generally, backup storage is sorted by total uses, ranging anywhere from 5,000 to 500,000 operations, and pushing the media past its limits puts the company at risk of data failure somewhere down the road.

There are plenty of ways to manage this problem, and it starts with management committing to monitoring tape expirations and putting a plan in place to address the situation in a consistent, predictable manner. Thankfully, one of the key benefits of deploying a backup tape management solution is that these software are designed to track, among other things, how often each tape in the archive is utilized. Automating this information is simply easier than attempting to managing tape expirations by hand.

Low-quality hardware delivers sub-par performance
Sometimes it’s hard to resist third-party or discount hardware when working around a shrinking IT budget. At some point, however, even the most convenient low-cost architecture will approach its limits. For example, supplementing backup storage tapes with SATA disk arrays to reduce costs can just as quickly put data at risk as save the IT some resources, warned Tech Target. These cost-reductions will be undermined later on, however, if low-cost hardware demands extra maintenance attention. IT teams always benefit from taking a closer look at the hardware supporting data storage when attempting to make backups more reliable.

Disjointed tape management creates extra problems
The absence of a comprehensive strategy to monitor and manage backup storage tapes is the largest barrier against success an IT team can run up against. That’s what makes solutions like Vertices and VaultLedger so critical to success. These robust software tools help turn decentralized backup storage into a unified, consistent workflow.

Streamlining the backup storage process does more than limit instances of media failure. Improvements to storage organization, container maintenance and documentation generation are all made possible with the right tape management software. IT teams that can take advantage of these lessons will likely see their backup-related tasks and costs begin to decline.

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