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Recent Sales Hint That Tape For Storage Is Far From Dead

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the didn't-you-know-that-tar-is-sticky? dept.

Data Storage 228

hightechchick writes "Staples' business-to-business sales of backup tape for storage are experiencing a bit of a revival. What's next, a return to dumb terminals and mainframes (a la cloud computing)?"

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228 comments

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Not news. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528830)

What else is there? It's not like you can back up to a SAN, and then stick the SAN in a courier bag and send it to remote storage. Optical? Too small. The magical "cloud" doesn't stack up well for security compared to a physical safe. Flash is promising, but still not there in terms of reliablity.

When they come up with a compact, reliable, portable storage medium I'll be the first one to toss tapes out the window. The idea of running backups to some credit-card sized SD cards is appealing.

Re:Not news. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528884)

I know! When did tapes lose its speed?

Re:Not news. (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528890)

You could not be more correct. It also needs to be as fast as LTO-5 or LTO-6 when that ships. That means 140MB/s or 270MB/s, and at least close to it for long periods of time. Those cheap SATA discs the kids keep suggesting don't come anywhere near that.

Re:Not news. (0)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529072)

Ah. But did you try eSATA?

It has a lower case e in front of it, so you know its good.

Re:Not news. (0)

BobNET (119675) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529532)

I'll wait for Apple to come up with iSATA. Then everyone will have it!

Re:Not news. (3, Interesting)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529124)

Modern cheap SATA drives have average linear read and write speeds of around 120 MB/s.

Re:Not news. (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529134)

Please name a disk that can keep it up for the whole disk. This will be 1TB+ of random data written in 1 shot.

I have not seen any yet, but would love to find one.

Re:Not news. (3, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529216)

Dude, my biggest problem is keeping the damn LTO4 drives fed at MINIMUM write speeds for file server type small file workloads. 72x15k spindles isn't enough with only one volume being backed up, metadata retrieval makes it too slow, I need to have multiple volumes backing up simultaneously to keep the things from shoeshining.

Re:Not news. (2, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529598)

Amanda works by backing up filesystems to dump files on the backup server, then writing those dump files all in one go. It might take an ancient system an hour to spool its dump to the backup server, but the tape doesn't have to worry about that.

Re:Not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32529692)

Does your backup software support multiplexing? I use LTO3 tapes and write 4 jobs on average to tape simultaneously.

Re:Not news. (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32530044)

Yep, but that's what it takes to keep it running above minimum speed, writing a single large filesystem volume takes longer than writing 4 volumes almost as large because the drive shoeshines with a single job. Minimum rate for the drive is 40MB/s, the best I have done with tuning on a 72 drive vraid6 volume is 35MB/s and average is closer to 25MB/s sustained but 4 jobs from the same array on different volumes will give me 100-120MB/s. All volumes are spanned across all disks so it's not a matter of more spindles being available, it's the latency in all the metadata lookups.

Re:Not news. (2, Interesting)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529328)

If it's really important to you ... make a lot of partitions, RAID0 the lot of them ... hey presto, a volume which will maintain average linear read and write speed across the entire volume.

Re:Not news. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529414)

I fail to see how making partitions on one real device will do anything other than lower that average speed. If you meant multiple physical volumes in RAID0 then I ask the following:

And how do I get this volume off to the storage location?
Will the OEM say it is safe for transport?

Is it light enough for our female sysadmin to carry it?

Face it, disks are just not there yet.

Re:Not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32529524)

Yes, think of the poor females...

Re:Not news. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529638)

Actually you should think of anyone of smaller size. Or just the fact that the off site storage folks are not going to be wanting to deal with an 40lb box each day for no extra cost.

Re:Not news. (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529634)

It's about hitting the disk in alternating sections. If you use large stripes (say 16 MB) and a bit of buffering (not a problem with linear access) you will only lose a little speed from the extra seeks. The average throughput however stays the same ... which seems important to you.

Re:Not news. (2, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529644)

I fail to see how making partitions on one real device will do anything other than lower that average speed.

You are correct, it will lower the speed, but I believe GP is correct that it will bring most data points closer to that slower average.

If you meant multiple physical volumes in RAID0 then I ask the following:
And how do I get this volume off to the storage location?
Will the OEM say it is safe for transport?
Is it light enough for our female sysadmin to carry it?

1) Quantum Teleportation? Maybe a truck and packing foam if your teleporter is down.
2) Who cares what the OEM says? Are you planning to sue a tape manufacturer when a tape goes bad? Good luck proving it was the transport that did it.
3) Unless she's an invalid. Anyone who can lift a HDD can transport a disk array.

I say if JBOD backup with multiple copies is good enough to transport Antarctic science data, it's good enough for transporting backups. As long as the backups are tested at the storage site on arrival, then there's not a problem with disks.

Re:Not news. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529658)

More importantly this solution is now more expensive and more cumbersome than the tapes were to begin with.

Re:Not news. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529908)

Modern cheap sata drives are nowhere near as robust, and are around twice the price. LTO4 tapes hold 800GB native, cost around $30, and are very easy to swap.

Re:Not news. (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529022)

Weight and volume wise HDs are in the same region as tapes, so yeah ... it would be perfectly possible to design a HD carrier to which you could backup over SAN and then move to remote "storage" (data needs to be kept alive, so the remote storage would need to be a MAID system).

Re:Not news. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529050)

This does not solve the other issues, but is a neat idea.

Re:Not news. (4, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529060)

I (and many others) don't trust hard drives _at_all_ - let alone when you move them. This is learned behavior...

Re:Not news. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529194)

Yep yep. Too many moving parts. You can drop a tape, and 999 times out of 1000 it'll be fine. Hard drives? Hell, it could die of vibration damage in transit!

Tapes are small, disposable, cheap, reliable. Hard drives are maybe 2 of those.

Re:Not news. (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529534)

most of that ruggedness comes from the actual storage surface being a seperate piece from the RW hardware.

drop a tape, and your dropping a long length of plastic covered in rust. Drop a HDD and your dropping several plates covered in rust, some moveable arms, at least one electric motor, and a bunch of IC.

sometimes i am surprised that those drives are as robust as they are.

Re:Not news. (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529828)

Most of the time HDDs will be fine if the heads are parked and you don't go above about 4g (I think). Still, you really don't want a medium that is as unstable as an HDD for your backups. The more opportunities for a backup to fail the more risk you're taking by using it, and the risk with HDDs would be in the "extreme" category.

We only use RAID as a short term data recovery system, so suggesting using HDDs as a backup (RAID or otherwise) is just silly. I have seen business' install brand new robotic tape libraries over the last few years, so it looks like they aren't going anywhere in an hurry.

I really don't think we're going to see a big change until they nail holographic storage, make it stable and make it cheap enough for business to consider it.

Re:Not news. (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529308)

Lemme know how that works out when your SAN gets tossed in a truck and spends most of a day banging around city streets and parking lots.

Re:Not news. (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529484)

Why come up with stupid problem with trivial solutions? They are rated for 300G, will they fail any way with bad transit? Yes. Often? Probably not. Just keep a temporary local copy of every backup. After the drives get plugged into the remote MAID they get checked, if something went wrong, make a new copy and try again.

I'm not saying designing such a system makes sense, tape is a mature system ... and if the data really needs to be available fast enough to justify a remote MAID you can probably pay for fiber to it as well. Regardless, most of the FUD thrown up against HDs is silly.

Re:Not news. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529934)

A 3.5" sata drive weights the same as a LTO cartridge? Quick googling suggests 3 tapes weigh (and cost) about the same as a single drive (.4lbs vs 1.3lbs; $30/800GB vs $80/1TB)

Re:Not news. (0, Troll)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529236)

What else is there? It's not like you can back up to a SAN, and then stick the SAN in a courier bag and send it to remote storage.

In fact you can. With a DR site you can replicate the backups to a remote SAN.

/. Yokel #1> But I have TiB(s) of data. It would take more than 1 day to backup 1 TiB over my WAN.

You don't do a full back up remotely. Intelligent software will transmit only the incremental. If you want you can locally seed the remote site before deployment.

/. Yokel #2> Haha, you burned that last guy. But seriously, even my deltas are fairly large.

Seriously, source side de-duplication and compression. In most work environments the amount of net new data is not very large.

/. Valid User> Does this even exist.

For serious people willing to pay: Avamar and Datadomain are examples. I don't know about the FOSS space though. If there were I would be interested in.

Tape is legacy.

It's difficult to restore from, sometimes you need the full and all accumulated incrementals.
It's difficult to know if data is even safe until you actually perform a test restore which NO ONE does on every backup.
It's inefficient. You can't just re-use parts of a tape.
Managing tape libraries is a needless nightmare.
Investing in a legacy architecture should result in a beating.

Re:Not news. (5, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529462)

You're an idiot, Starscream.

Tape is not legacy - it's the industry standard.
Believe it or not, being old is not the same as being obsolete.
In fact, in this industry, being old is a testament to how reliable something is.

Compression? Deduplication? Seeding remote sites? What fantasy world do you live in?

Tape is a storage medium.
You can compress anything and store it on the tape.

Deduplication is not a backup mechanism.

Backups need to be made before going live and routinley afterward. Full backups.

Tape is easy to restore from. You need full/incremental backups with tape exactly as you need them with a remote location. If it's attached to a machine it's a copy, NOT a backup. A backup must be remote, unpowered, and protected from Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart (thieves) etc.

It's not difficult to know if data is safe. Just try to restore it. If you're not testing your restore process, you're an idiot, regardless of what method you're using. Tape is the most reliable storage format we have today.

You can reuse tapes all the time. Such inefficiencies only matter if you're backing up data that's a fraction of a single tape. If this is the case, just buy more tapes. They're very cheap. If this is not the case, then you'll never run into the problem because each tape you write to will be part of a set of tapes corresponding to an individual backup job, and all but one of that set will be completely utilized.

It's not a needless nightmare. It's a necessary nightmare. And it's not a nightmare. There's this thing called a label maker. Alternatively, labels and a Sharpie. Alternatively still, tape, paper, and a pen.

No sir, it is you that deserves the beating.

I was about to mod you up. . . (0)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529542)

But nobody deserves a beating. Chill out.

Re:Not news. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529470)

This fails totally for data that cannot leave the machine unencrypted or for compressed data, like say DB dumps.

If you do not test your backups why bother making them?

It also fails that 1 employee can now kill all your backups.

Suggesting solutions that do not properly address the problem at hand should result in mocking.

Re:Not news. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529696)

Tape remains the most rugged and dependable form of long-term storage out there. Last year we looked at replacing our backup system as part of a server upgrade, and I actually considered Blu-Ray. It's capacity isn't too bad, at least as far as pure data backups go, but then you get to ruggedness. CD/DVD/Blu-Ray are pretty questionable as to the long-term survivability of data in anything but optimum conditions, they're definitely not as rugged and transportable as tape.

Yes, tape is a bit of a pain, but mainly in that it's kind of slow to restore. My next backup upgrade, which will come when our data exceeds backup capacity will very likely be tape.

Re:Not news. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529864)

Flash is promising, but still not there in terms of reliablity.

They have 800GB flash drives that cost around $30? News to me.

Re:Not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32530050)

Acronis backups to a NAS, replicated off site. Tapes are so last decade.

Offsite backups... (3, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528838)

Although disk is compellingly cheap, if you want reliable, multiple, and offside-stored backups, tape really is the answer.

Re:Offsite backups... (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528944)

Single disks are slow as hell too. Try seeing what a single cheap SATA disc can sustain for writes, they suck.

Re:Offsite backups... (1)

greed (112493) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529318)

Yeah; I had to set up a 4-way stripe set to get sustained writes over 200 MB/s. Each drive tops out at about 65 MB/s as you get closer to the hub. They start off with an impressive 125 MB/s at the outer rim, but that's only a fraction of the capacity.

And those are $100/each SATA drives on a $150/each 8-port PCI-e SAS controller. You don't need to spend a fortune to get acceptable aggregate speed, but you do have to get the right bits.

Re:Offsite backups... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529476)

How do you ship that offsite?

I have no problem getting those speeds with drives, the issue is getting it with 1 drive since that is the size and cost of 1 tape.

Re:Offsite backups... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32529038)

A lot of sales may be linked to the growth of Electronic Medical Records, which are going to be required for full Medicare reimbursement in a few years. Database backups are a must for those systems and tape is probably the most cost-effective answer.

reminds me... (1)

eexaa (1252378) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528848)

...of duct tape. One can always find a good place for some.

No idea why.

What's Next? (4, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528872)

I'll tell you whats next...

A device that lets you type up a word document and it prints it out real time. Essentially it prints your keystrokes as soon as you press them. I also foresee it having an extremely long battery life.

Re:What's Next? (1)

fregare (923563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529244)

Yes, this reminds of me a device called a typewriter I read about in a history book. I am glad we have rediscovered this device. This is similar to the rediscovery of concrete which was invented by the Romans but had to be reinvented after the Dark Ages.

Re:What's Next? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529282)

in windows using a dot matrix printer or even some older ink jets.

copy con lpt1

was like using a type writer again.. funny thing was on newer printers it would print one char per page instead - funny to watch

Re:What's Next? (1)

genner (694963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529596)

I'll tell you whats next...

A device that lets you type up a word document and it prints it out real time. Essentially it prints your keystrokes as soon as you press them. I also foresee it having an extremely long battery life.

...and very poor editing abilities. Also it doesn't make copies for some reason.

Mainframe and tape (5, Insightful)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528880)

I'm guessing this story was posted by someone with absolutely no experience with enterprise-level businesses.

Re:Mainframe and tape (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528902)

100% guaranteed.

Re:Mainframe and tape (1)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528954)


I'm guessing this story was posted by someone with absolutely no experience with enterprise-level businesses.

much like the editor who approved the story. ;)

Re:Mainframe and tape (2, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529108)

I'm guessing this person(s) also has no experience setting up a disaster recovery plan with offsite storage for a small to medium sized business.

Re:Mainframe and tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32529198)

someone with absolutely no experience with enterprise-level businesses

It's actually worse than that. People that should know are surprised:

Staples says companies have found alternate uses for tape, such as for nearline and offline storage.

Apparently it's news to Staple that companies began using table for offline storage about 60 years ago.

You get 1.5TB (3TB compressed) of LTO storage for about $120 in quantity. You stuff a pile of those in a library, configure the backup schedule and go home. The library tells you when to cycle out the tapes. It works really well and all the hardware and software costs less than what the guy who operates it gets paid in a quarter. Volume snapshots solved the last actual problems that this process ever had.

Re:Mainframe and tape (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529390)

Staples does desk level marketing, not enterprize marketing.

I can't think of a single product that Staples sells that you would find in the data center machine or media room other than the pad and pens used to sign the visitor logs.

Re:Mainframe and tape (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529752)

I think the chair and the whiteboard are worth sourcing from there, and the USB pen drive the intern is using to store all the pr0n he got from your company's high-speed WAN.

Re:Mainframe and tape (1)

bertok (226922) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529812)

someone with absolutely no experience with enterprise-level businesses

It's actually worse than that. People that should know are surprised:

Staples says companies have found alternate uses for tape, such as for nearline and offline storage.

Apparently it's news to Staple that companies began using table for offline storage about 60 years ago.

You get 1.5TB (3TB compressed) of LTO storage for about $120 in quantity. You stuff a pile of those in a library, configure the backup schedule and go home. The library tells you when to cycle out the tapes. It works really well and all the hardware and software costs less than what the guy who operates it gets paid in a quarter. Volume snapshots solved the last actual problems that this process ever had.

I just did a price comparison. According to a quick online price search, I can get an LTO 5 cartridge for about AUD 155 to AUD 200 [shopbot.com.au] , but I can buy a Samsung 1.5TB hard drive delivered to my door for AUD 138 [auspcmarket.com.au] !

A standalone LTO 5 tape drive has a minimum cost of $thousands, and even a low-cost autoloader is $thousands more.

Meanwhile, I can get a hot swap USB3 external drive box [auspcmarket.com.au] for about AUD 200 including the USB3 controller.

For any small business with less than 1.5TB of compressed data (2-4TB actual data), tapes are dead.

And don't tell me that tapes are somehow more reliable than hard drives, because they're not. A hard drive comes with it's own sealed steel box, and a tape will die just the same if you drop it onto a concrete floor.

What's much more important is that restoring to bare metal is much easier with a USB hard drive, particularly with Windows Server 2008 or later. The VHD backup images can be restored using the standard Windows installer CD. Because USB3 is backwards compatible with USB2 a restore can be done without any special drivers or software.

You know what isn't fun? Chasing down drivers for tape libraries at 3am.

Meanwhile, large corporations are moving to hard drives for different reasons. A chassis that can take ~48 SATA drives is now only 4 to 5 rack units. Even fully populated with 2TB drives it can end up cheaper than an empty tape library of the same capacity. Hard drives are much faster, allowing them to be used in more ways, such as single-instancing and simultaneous backups and restores. Many organisations now do incremental backups every couple of minutes to disk, which would be prohibitively difficult with tapes.

With single-instanced backups, the cost per TB swings towards hard drives in a big way. I've heard of 50:1 compression ratios in practice, and 250:1 is not outlandish. You'd have to buy LTO 5 media for a dollar each to match that!

 

Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32528924)

I'm an iSeries Systems Admin you insensitive clod!

Re:Thanks (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529258)

Nobody who actually has that job would say such a thing, it's still an AS/400 damn it.

Re:Thanks (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529768)

ITYM System/36. Now get off my lawn! ;-)

Re:Thanks (1)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 4 years ago | (#32530012)

Sigh - memories. Backing up 200MB of System/36 to 8" floppies. Then we stepped up to an AS/400 - backup to 9-track tape. Ah, those big reels of tape. Funny drive on the E35 - slide the tape in the front slot, close the door and the vacuum pump goes on, sucking the tape through the path and onto the takeup spool. Data density 3200CPI, unique to that drive at the time, when the other IBM drives had 1600 or 6250CPI.

Real link (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528940)

Here is the real link that is missing from the summary [channelinsider.com] .

I always wonder about tape backup.....it seems everyone I know who uses it has had it fail. Hard drives fail too, it's true, but the anecdotal evidence I have says if you are using tape backup, you better have multiple backups.

Re:Real link (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528980)

How does that matter since disks are not even in the running? They are slow, not safe for storage, not safe to transport.

Real world advice from an enterprise sysadmin:
If you are doing backups, always have multiple backups since a single one will always fail when you actually need it.

Re:Real link (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32528990)

The problem with tape vs live backups is that you can immediately test the integrity of your data against checksums or other redundant chunks of the data in realtime. Not so with tape. Once you write to tape, unless you check it every so often, you have no idea if the data is still good or not.

Trust but verify.

Re:Real link (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32529020)

This is called disk staging, any enterprise level backup system will have this.

We can do our 1Gbps backups in the middle of the night to a disk array, then crank on the tapes all day long.

Re:Real link (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529082)

Well, you have to do that just to keep up with the write speed of the tapes.

Re:Real link (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529030)

Live backups fail the minute you have a real big failure. Unless you have multiple sites and a huge pipe between them. Then you still should have tapes off site so one employee can't go destroying all your nice backups when he goes nuts.

Re:Real link (2, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529238)

Example: My last gig was with the DOE working on the US site for the CMS experiment for the Large Hadron Collider. We had around 5PB of spinning disk and 17PB of LTO4 tape storage for the detector data (you can't really backup 17PB offsite for a reasonable cost). We'd have bad tapes quite often, and it didn't matter if you did a verify at the end of the tape write before it was stored by the robotics.

Re:Real link (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32530004)

17PB of LTO4 tape storage

Was that a typo, or did you honestly have 17,000 LTO4 tapes? Was this per nightly job?

Re:Real link (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32530090)

If you can't get them offsite that is not a good backup. A fire and all your data is gone, cheap does not equal good. Sure it sucks with that much data, but for that much data expect to pay a pretty penny.

Re:Real link (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529104)

You check the tape at the end of writing it. Everyone does this. You also test your backups, if you are not testing them you do not have backups.

Re:Real link (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529254)

We did this at my last gig. You'd still have bad tapes, didn't matter if you checked the tape at the end of the write.

Re:Real link (1, Offtopic)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529158)

A lot of modern tape drives have a read head positioned immediately following the write head, so they continuously read back what they've written to verify that what's on the tape is what you intended to put on the tape.

Here's a primer on LTO technology [lto.org]

Re:Real link (0, Offtopic)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529310)

http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1682300&cid=32529238 [slashdot.org]

I need no primer on LTO4 technology chief =) Thanks though.

Re:Real link (2, Funny)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529418)

Oh, you go and store 17PB on LTO and you think you know it all do you?

I'll just duck off to my corner and resume setting up my 8-slot autoloader.

As you were...

Re:Real link (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529000)

I've not much anecdotal evidence (bout a years worth), but we haven't had a tape fail on us yet.

Of course, we don't test every single one of em, but when we need a file from 3 years ago, no problems yet.

Re:Real link (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529006)

...if you are using tape backup, you better have multiple backups.

Yes, you got it in one. That's the whole idea of tape based backups. Redundancy.

Re:Real link (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529128)

Tape sucks.

I've used it for 25 years, with a variety of vendors, capacities and dozens of drives, and every single unit I've ever had failed, not only the tapes themselves, but also the drives. People can't remember to cycle tapes, tapes die and people don't notice, and you can't buy the tapes 3 years down the line.

Disk is much simpler, and more robust.

We finally realized that we were backing up a very reliable media with a very un-reliable one.

Finally we switched to compressed backups stacked on cheap redundant network attached disk drives in small external enclosures. They can sit anywhere, even INSIDE the fireproof vault.

The software for this is readily available from a number of sources and you can use your same "tower of Hanoi" media cycling schemes as you might for tape. Because backups are bundled into one large file they can be stored, cataloged, archived, rotated, and purged via automated means.

For the small business, NAS drives make way more sense.

Re:Real link (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529288)

Must be using cheap consumer based tape, DLT, LTO, and IBM's various tape formats are solid, reliable, and available. I can still buy new drives today that will read tapes written 20+ years ago and media 4 generations old is still available new.

Re:Real link (1)

labnet (457441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529700)

I agree tape sucks.. at least for SME.

We backup nightly to SATA using a 10 drive hanoi scheme. It cost $30 for a caddy that takes the naked 5.25" drives. The drives cost $50.
They go into a fire proof safe, with offsite drives swapped once a fortnight.
When we need to find the 'lost' file, it takes 60seconds, not 20 minutes of tape searching.

DLT,LTO etc has its place in enterprise, but for SME, SATA is the way to go.

Re:Real link (0, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529826)

You need better software, there should be near 0 time searching.

Bacula is pretty cool.

Re:Real link (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529886)

I'm sure his 60 seconds included the time to insert the proper caddy.

Re:Real link (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32530096)

It cost $30 for a caddy that takes the naked 5.25" drives.

Surely you mean 3.5"? The caddy system itself might be 5.25". The only place I can think of to get a 5.25" HDD from would be an attic or a museum.

Does a caddy have any advantages over an e-SATA HDD dock? I like that the latter can be used for multiple machines, but it's more clutter. And I guess that usually machines tend to only have one e-SATA port, so if you had two caddies you could double the throughput. Hmmm. Thanks for the tip, I've got several 5.25" bays doing absolutely nothing.

Re:Real link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32530128)

Let me guess - you were using something like Exabyte? There's good reason why somebody made the comment, "Exabyte. For those who don't realise that their system already has a /dev/null."

My second-to-last employer rolled out an LTO2-based tape library around six years ago. You can still buy LTO2 media and drives if you want them. Hell, you can still buy DLT media (the technology they were using before LTO2) for use in DLT7000 drives, although you have to buy DLT8000 drives and put them in DLT7000 compatibility mode these days if you need a new drive of that type.

My previous employer was an outsourcer, managing the systems for another company. That company had a massive SAN array die on them during a firmware upgrade; amongst other things, they lost their primary retail SAP system. The LTO4 drives and tapes did the job they were supposed to do; no data that had been backed up was lost (there's always the issue of what happens to data between the backup and the data loss; nothing can be done about it.)

Tape, managed and spec'd properly, is rock solid reliable. It's as simple as that. If it weren't, we wouldn't be into the fifth generation of Ultrium media and drives after ten years.

A revival? (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529026)

Did it ever go away? As far as I knew it was always how you did long term backup. We just bought a new tape unit here since we needed more backup storage, and the development of new LTO formats continues apace. Disks are what you use for online storage, and for online backups, you have redundant disks. That is for sure our first line of defense. We have a RAID-6 system with hot spares. Ok, but what about if something bigger happens? I'm not just talking about facilities destruction, what happens if something goes apeshit in the storage system and screws up all the data (or maybe a malicious admin does)? If our backup is just a realtime hookup to another online system, we are screwed.

Tapes though, the protect for a lot of things. We take regular backups, in rotation, so that even if the online system is messed up, there are backups to go to. Those backups can also easily be rotated to secure storage facilities. These are places that aren't easy to have an online system, even if you wanted. You are talking like a vault or something to keep it safe even in extreme situations.

They are also great if we want to keep data for a long time. Tapes have good shelf life. Better than a HDD. This is largely because they are simpler. They are just, well, tapes. Retension them once a year, they can last decades.

So I wasn't aware tapes had gone anywhere. We sure don't use them on individual machines, or use them as fast backups, but they are wonderful as an emergency backup. The protect against a number of issues that an online disk system can't. They can also easily give you the benefit of offsite backups for a much lesser cost. Costs a lot more to get a second high end storage system and house it in another building with fibre than to just walk some tapes over to a vault.

Let's not forget Escrow (5, Informative)

frooddude (148993) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529122)

The business I work for goes through tapes like they're used to make coffee. Primary use: legal escrow of source code.

Are you f'ing kidding me? (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529208)

Tape is vastly superior in price/performance* for archival and offsite backup of data. To anything. Maybe someday that'll change, but not soon.

[*: LTO-5 holds 1.6TB uncompressed for 15-30 years in a $100 cartridge the approximate size and weight of a paperback book**.]
[**: Okay, the weight of a Steven King paperback. Still.]

Re:Are you f'ing kidding me? (1)

Big Boss (7354) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529536)

How much for the drives? And you need at least 2 for DR as the first one could die or get destroyed in the fire that killed the servers. For large companies that can pay for those drives over many systems being backed up, LTO might make sense even then. For home users, and even mid-size business users, the costs for the drives kill LTO out of the gate. Tape has its advantages, but the full system cost kills it for a very large market. Of course, I would never have referred to tape as "dead" as there is still good reason to use it, if you can afford it. It would be nice if there were a drive available for those tapes that was affordable, but home/small business tape backup has always been plagued with crap hardware that eats tapes and such.

For most users that can't afford it, it's cheaper and more reliable to run ZFS capable servers in multiple locations with some kind of backup and snapshot jobs running to keep data and history data available. I do this for my personal data using old parts to run the offsite backup server. Seed it locally before taking it to the new location and the incrementals are small enough to go over the internet if needed. In my case it's next door, so a wireless bridge is faster. And with ZFS I can know for sure the data is good with a scrub monthly.

Businesses Not Upgrading IE6, Why Upgrade Servers? (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529246)

Businesses aren't even upgrading from XP or IE 6 on relatively cheap desktop PCs that are probably be cycled through anyway because what they have simply "works", and you expect them to do differently with servers? For that matter there are probably plenty of dumb terminals and main frames still out there being used rather than a 'return'. We just got rid of the last of our dumb terminals a three years ago. The system we had worked. Buying a replacement was a multi-million dollar project that involved racks of new servers, more permanent FTE positions to manage it, and doubling the number of desktop computers to use it. For that matter, it also used tapes for backup. I'm sure there are thousands of old systems out there that still use tape that even though they may not be the newest equipment out there, there is still no business reason to upgrade them. To get our system upgraded, it was a two year sales pitch that had to be supported by a good show of ROI, and then another year project lead time before the vendor could do it. Actually, one of the reasons businesses aren't upgrading from IE6 and WinXp is probably because the servers have to be upgraded first.

Blu-ray jukebox (1)

s122604 (1018036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529264)

gotta think somebody is working on this

once economies of scale kick in, could it give tape a run for its money?
just askin?

Re:Blu-ray jukebox (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529508)

Bad idea; unknown media decay rate + Sony is involved, so it WILL suck.

All I have to say about the summary is; Dumb Terminal == Smart User who needs no mouse to gui

Copy that floppy!

Re:Blu-ray jukebox (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529586)

No, way to slow, way to small and not very durable.

An LTO-5 tape holds 1.4TB native, writes it at ~100MB/s sustained and is easily transported and quite durable.

A bluray disk holds 50GB. So right off the bat you need 29 of them for each tape. At 12x they get only 54 MB/s, and surely not for the whole disc. That makes them half the speed at best, more likely a third the speed or less. Then you are still stuck with dealing with a format that is prone to scratching and sensitive to light.

i just wish... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529574)

i could find a tape system that was sanely priced for home use.

Re:i just wish... (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529976)

I bought a used LTO2 tape drive for ~$175 (prior to that I used a LTO1 drive that I bought for the same price but a few years earlier).I don't have any problems with it, I can find blank tapes locally or on ebay and the 30MB/s read/write speed is enough for me as is the 200GB capacity. I also have a DDS4 drive for when I need to back up a very slow hard drive or when there are a bunch of small files that need to be backed up (like on a system disk) and the hard drive is too slow to keep up with LTO tape.

painfully obvious (1)

Digicaf (48857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32529664)

Stories like this help convince me that the submitter and timothy have never worked in a medium or large enterprise environment. Anyone who has knows the value of backup tapes.

No, they never went away. Yes, they will be with us for a long time to come.

To anyone who has ever had to manage or deal with a large data archiving or backup system, tapes have always been a consideration. Even if they didn't end up using tapes, they were seriously considered. Very few other options offer the raw storage space, reliability, speed, modularity, and low degradation rates of tapes.

Your Point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32529688)

What's next, a return to dumb terminals and mainframes

Hey, smart-ass, maybe people are using what works for them, rather than being told what to do by some pseudo-adult wearing a Darth Vader helmet with a penguin sticker on it.

Tape sucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32529742)

So says Hilda at the "Institute for Backup Trauma": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgxgYL5P4z4

And yes - that's "Worf"...

LOL!

bandwidth... (1)

EventHorizon_pc (1306663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32530164)

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway. —Tanenbaum, Andrew S.

Wikipedia also mentions that "the original version of this quotation came much earlier; the very first problem in Tanenbaum's 1981 textbook Computer Networks asks the student to calculate the throughput of a St. Bernard carrying floppy disks (which are said to hold 250 kilobytes of data)." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneakernet

About the snark at the end... (1)

NervousWreck (1399445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32530218)

At my school, the campus bookstore actually does use dumb terminals. All other administration computers have an emulator program.

Tapes required by insurance in TV production (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32530236)

I work in television production, and we can't get insurance for a program unless we are backing up all our raw footage, show elements, and finished shows to DLT or LTO tapes. It's a hard and fast requirement, and not even the world's fanciest RAID with extra off-site cloud backup will make the underwriters happy.

Sheltered geeks (2)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 4 years ago | (#32530242)

This is why us geeks on the 'working end' of the spectrum hate dealing with the sheltered back-end IT geeks.

Yes, we use tape. It's portable, easy to swap, easy to use, cheap to replace when it wears out, etc.

I do have cases where backups are made to disk or over network--then those backups go to tape so they can be rotated offsite.

The one case where I'm stuck dealing with backups to a portable HD between Windows, VMware and the backup software in question the whole setup is so badly broken that the entire thing has to be rebooted in order to swap the USB hard drive to rotate it offsite.

The people responsible for making comments like 'tape is dead' need to be dragged (probably kicking and screaming) into the real world for a while and learn what all their toys are really used for. A server handed to us with a fresh OS is just a doorstop until we actually get applications on it and it is actually capable of *doing something*.

Okay, done ranting for the day...

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