Sensible Precautions to Use with Tape Backup Systems

Data backupWhile tape backups can play an important role in an enterprise's data loss prevention system, there are certain procedures and safeguards that should be followed in order to preserve the integrity of the backup media.  A managed program model may include a structure in which IT services personnel are usually the ones to handle the tapes themselves, but any number of situations may arise that require other personnel to come into contact with them.  Training to ensure proper handling and storage is essential.

Common Causes of Tape Failure: Things to Avoid

Most tape backup systems are designed to maximize the amount of information stored on each linear foot of tape.  This means in practice that data is written right up to the edge of the tape medium itself.  Anything that causes damage to the edge or causes it to become brittle or more likely to fray should be avoided.  Also to be avoided are situations that cause stress or damage to the cartridge casing of the tape or the internal components in the housing.  While it is possible to respool tape onto a fresh cartridge, it is better to avoid the need to do so in the first place. 

The primary causes of tape degradation over time relate to environmental factors.  Humidity and dust are the enemies of tape media, as are temperatures that are excessively high or low.  Tapes should not be stored or stacked where they may experience prolonged periods of vibration, and they should not be stacked directly on top of each other as pressure can cause the casing in the bottom tape to become compressed.


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