What's the True Cost of Tape as a Data Backup?

Once upon a time, data backup using tape was cost effective, relatively easy and highly practical. Unfortunately tape is no longer a viable method of protecting data, and the outdated medium is slowly becoming an irrelevant player in the game of technology.

No longer are companies able to run data-intensive applications and cloud-based services using tape as their preferred data backup. Current applications demand constant backups with large amounts of data. IT support using tape-based systems are unable to keep up with the demands of protecting the data, and often find difficulty recovering it in the event of loss or corruption. This begs the question: What’s the true cost of tape backup? In best case scenarios, $14,000 per year is the cost of using tape as a data backup medium. With any data retention program, manually backing up the data and delivering it to offsite locations is a best practice.

Consider a company that stores its backup tapes at a location based 50 miles from the main office. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the standard deductible mileage rate in the United States is $.55 per mile for 2012. The average IT consultant earns a salary of $69,658 per year or $33.48 per hour, according to a 2011 Dice.com survey. If a company pays a consultant to travel one hour to deliver the data backup on a daily basis, the technician will cost an organization $60.98 per day. Since the number of working days per year averages between 250 and 260 for most companies, your tape backup program is costing a whopping $15,245 to $15,854.80 per year—just for offsite storage.

Therefore, tape is not just a financial burden, but is a threat to business continuity for the following reasons:

Tape is More Likely to Fail

When using taped-based data backup programs, companies report an average of 20 to 50 percent failure rates. A common scenario which occurs after lengthy periods of downtime is realizing that most of the stored data is unrecoverable. Not only did your company lose another $60.98—paid to the tech to retrieve the offsite data, but the unrecoverable data has to be recreated or restored somehow—at tens of thousands of dollars in additional costs.

Tape is Time-Consuming

Productivity is the lifeblood of any business. Data backup using tape can take hours or days at a time to complete. In addition, troubleshooting backup becomes a hindrance; the backup may seem to be working correctly, however, it can easily fail after normal working hours. For this reason, it’s often difficult to know if data was successful until the following day. Companies that rely on backups to conduct business will find productivity suffers drastically when systems go down, if reliable backup isn’t in place to restore regular operations. Company profits suffer once again as employees are paid salaries to remain at work—albeit unproductively.

Tape is Inefficient

Business continuity depends on the use of reliable media to perform regular data backup. However, tape is highly sensitive to the dirt, dust and debris found in some offices and work environments, and can produce errors in as little as four months. It’s also a physical item; susceptible to loss, damage or theft, and often requires the use of proprietary software applications to perform the backups.

Small and medium-sized companies alike have migrated from using tape, to incorporating more reliable and relevant methods such as cloud-based backup. Tape might seem tempting—a low cost solution for protecting your data—but it comes with a huge price in the end.

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