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Hard Drives Instead of Tapes?

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the why-the-hell-not dept.

Technology 484

An anonymous reader writes "Tom's Hardware News weekly news letter has a very interesting article about Dr. Koch of Computertechnik AG who won the contract to build a RAID backup system for the University of Tübingen. Dr. Koch took several standard entry-level servers, such as the dual-Athlon MP, and add modern components and three large-caliber IDE-RAID controllers per computer, and a total of 576 x 160GB Drives."

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I've been doing this for years (-1, Troll)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802116)

I never liked tape. oh and FP!

Sucka! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802160)

Sucka!

*cough*

YES - BUT DOES IT RUN LINUX? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802217)

Answer that smarty

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802122)

FIRST POST!! ;)

I'M GOING TO BACKUP MY VOMIT... ALL OVER YOU! (-1)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (621411) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802139)

GIGS OF FAILURE FOR YOU!

Oops, wrong account :) (-1)

I VOMIT ON FAILURES! (652124) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802154)

I Fail It

Far more practical (5, Interesting)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802127)

This is a much better solution than tape, really. It's predictable that the industry will probably move in this direction, now that the hardware is cheap enough and of high enough capacity to serve this function.

Imagine: instant recovery. Your backup could be a usable image of your live server.

Re:Far more practical (4, Informative)

diverman (55324) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802194)

Yeah, I've seen this trend for a while now. Our backup system is also a large HDD raid setup. And for things that need long term storage, those eventually get spooled to tape. I'm sure long term storage will probably start going the way of DVD optical media or something similar (better capacity more likely).

Yeah, the full usable image would be nice, but would probably require a shutdown for data consistency. The backup strategy would likely be similar to that of an Oracle system cold backup. :)

-Alex

Compliance (2, Interesting)

sk3tch (165010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802133)

So a BIG RAID is somehow safer than many small RAIDS? Backups aren't just for the heck of it...some of them are required for compliance, i.e. the financial industry.

Re:Compliance (1)

knowledgepeacewi (523787) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802271)

ok so you keep one(multiply by paranoia) tiny 160GB hard drive in storage for each quarter that you do business. Takes up much less room than tape.

Re:Compliance (4, Insightful)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802344)

Backups aren't just for the heck of it...some of them are required for compliance, i.e. the financial industry.

Oh PLEASE! I worked for, what was at the time, the 17th largest CC processor in the nation. Not so big, but lots of merchants. They bought a front-end (where your credit card terminals dial into), and built a backend settlement (so they didn't need FDR - who recently ROYALLY hosed everyone with a software update, including CHASE themselves. No, this software update was completely seperate from the SQL Slammer worm that took them down when it appeared.).

Complaince, usually done by the OTS (Office of Thrift Supervision), is NOT ISO 9000 type stuff. Financial companies are CHEAP. Never forget that. Whatever is the cheapest solution, is the one that is used.

As for tape backups - as an example: It took quite a bit of convincing to upgrade from the 4 drives that took two days to backup the whole network to a single Sont DLT drive. (Because $70/tape is a LOT of money)

There were no 'compliance' worries at all.

Re:Compliance (2, Insightful)

stilwebm (129567) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802396)

Those aren't just backups, but also archives for auditing purposes. The analyist scandals of the last couple of years really helped drive home the need for these archives.

They of course are also important for business continuity, as Sept. 11, 2001 showed us when several large finacial firms had their data centers destroyed.

Wow! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802137)

About 96 TB!

Re:Wow! (0, Flamebait)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802270)

That's fine for MP3s, but where am I suppose to store my DivX "backups"?

Sound fine, but... (2, Insightful)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802142)

What about being able to transport and store the information offsite?

I mean, sure tape isn't great, but it's a lot more transportable than harddrives.

Re:Sound fine, but... (4, Informative)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802173)

I don't know about the mega RAID systems descibed in this article but we're doing this with a couple of high-capacity IDE drives in a removable drive cage. The relevant system states and data are backed up to these drives daily. The time to get our databases and files up to running state in a disaster scenario is under three hours.

Re:Sound fine, but... (3, Interesting)

peterjhill2002 (578023) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802215)

With the huge size of some databases, it would make more sense to connect to your offsite storage via fiber and store it there. There is no reason the backup disks need to be in the same room or building or state as the primary disks. Then you also solve the problem of reliably getting the data offsite in the first place. This is of course more expensive than renting a storage locker and driving a dat tape over to it every night, but I don't think Citibank is driving too many tapes around town. (just a guess)

What about reading the article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802236)

What about reading the article?

[snip]

The Real World: Hard Times for Tape Backups

There's one aspect in which Dr. Koch's backup system can't keep up with tape solutions: storing the backup medium in another location after the backup has been completed.

[/snip]

Re:What about reading the article? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802331)

<quote>There's one aspect in which Dr. Koch's backup system can't keep up with tape solutions: storing the backup medium in another location after the backup has been completed.</quote>

Last time I looked, a 40/80/160 gig hd wasn't all that big. I do my backup onto one, then bring it home and back THAT up to my home machine, so I end up w 4 copies of any file (my workstation, the server, the backup hd, and my home machine). Time to restore is pretty much zero (just plug the hd in, set the new passwords on the server and you're up and running).

Tape sucks almost as bad as zip drives.

Firewire anyone ? (1)

dr-suess-fan (210327) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802254)

I heard that the latest in Firewire attached drives
were high capacity as well as portable. Sorry, no
link, me too lazy.

Re:Sound fine, but... (0, Flamebait)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802260)

They dodge that issue rather gingerly:

"There's one aspect in which Dr. Koch's backup system can't keep up with tape solutions: storing the backup medium in another location after the backup has been completed.

As long as this isn't necessary, Dr. Koch's backup system offers some rather unique advantages."

Re:Sound fine, but... (2, Insightful)

override11 (516715) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802330)

OK, but look at how he has it setup: several systems with lots of HDD's in each. You could presumably setup one of those systems to store redundent information in it. You could designate 2 systems as hot spares, and swap them off site. :)

Re:Sound fine, but... (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802269)

Well as the article states this implementation isn't really for offsite There's one aspect in which Dr. Koch's backup system can't keep up with tape solutions: storing the backup medium in another location after the backup has been completed. but it could be done pretty easily. Non-operating shock capacity on the D540X is 300G's for 2ms which is pretty darn good (plastic tape housings might shatter under a similar load). I also like the ultra low failure rate .5% (hmm, this and the data from storage review shows that the D540X and D740X line seem to be some of the most reliable out there...) I know our DAT failure rate was in the same ballpark.

Re:Sound fine, but... (5, Informative)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802306)

As someone who works in IT in the financial industry, let me tell you a little bit of what kind of requirements we fulfill. First of all, every system is backed up on a regular basis. For critical systems (systems that handle account numbers in any way), that schedule is daily or even hourly.

All systems have live fail-overs. When not required by law, and they frequently are, such systems are required by the demands of profit. If financial transactions falter for a *second*, it means money lost.

Back-up media is triple redundant and incremental over 5 days. Backup irregularities of any kind are logged, investigated, and acted upon by at least 3 individuals.

Copies of backups are stored both on site and off-site in a secure location provided by our insurance provider. We make frequent trips to this secure location daily in order to deposit backups. These procedures are audited and reviewed on a regular basis by both internal auditors and regulatory board auditors.

Tape is just a little more reliable than IDE in this kind of situation. Tape is going to be more recoverable, even in case of a long drop or serious auto accident between point A and point B. If necessary, teap will also survive shipping better.

Sorry, guys. As reliable as IDE drives have become, they're just not as durable as a tape cartridge. With the sheer amount of backup we keep, it's also significantly cheaper.

Re:Sound fine, but... (1)

angst_ridden_hipster (23104) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802358)

You can kinda do the same thing, albeit slower, using something like rdiff-backup [stanford.edu] , RAID, and a fast network.

I could envision a super-fat pipe being used to mirror a facility to a neighboring (or even geographically-distant) facility along with a system like this.

rdiff-backup saved me when a power supply blew out on a server. Within an hour of the failure, I was back up and running on the backup server. It could have been much faster had I automated the failover...

Re:Sound fine, but... (1, Interesting)

lobsterGun (415085) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802378)

High end mag tape cartridges store 50GB. One hard drive can replace three tape cartriges. When sending the drive off site for storage, just use the same box you used for the tapes and fill the extra space with shock absorbant padding.

But wait there's more. Those mag tape cartriges have a transfer rate of about 10 MB/sec. With hard drives, your backups will take a fraction of the time they took under the old system. That leaves plenty of extra time to pack the drives up extra securely. You may even be tempted to do extra backups to send copies to multipls off-site locations!

Double plus good!

Re:Sound fine, but... (1)

Thavius (640045) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802385)

That's the main problem with RAID-only backup. When we build servers for our clients (small database servers) we always push RAID and tape backup, because of the "Server falls into a hole in the space-time continuum" factor. If the server does catch fire, fall over and sink into the swamp; you'll always have a tape of your data for the 4th server, the strongest server in the land.

For such a large backup solution, I think this system was probably a good idea. Is it the best? No, there never is a best backup plan, only good ones.

That and this one is just too fricking neat for words.

IMAGINE (+5, INFORMATIVE) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802143)

a beowulf cluster of one of these babys!

Yea realy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802419)

You would think you hear all the good quotes on slashdot, then to discover that someone else said them.

"A beowulf of tape drives?"
No realy, this is actualy a good idea.

"Replace all Tape drives with Hard drives?"
No realy, this is actualy a good idea.

"Steve, do YOU think people will need more that 640KB?"
No realy, this is actualy a good idea.

"WHY DOES SLASHDOT ALWAYS POST THE _OBVIOUS_ QUESTIONS?"
Exactly...

I don't know if that is a good idea (4, Insightful)

Tighe_L (642122) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802147)

There has to be a better way than relying on anything stored in magnetic format, optical I think woudl be preferable, and resistant to EMP.

Re:I don't know if that is a good idea (3, Funny)

Alpha_Nerd (565637) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802262)

Yeah damn that EMP... If a neutron bomb goes off, I sure as hell don't want to lose my 100+ TB pr0n collection.

Re:I don't know if that is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802353)

It'll be just like that twilight zone where the book nut in the bank vault survived, but his reading glasses broke right as he sat down for some light reading.

Except it'll be your hands that get cut off.

Re:I don't know if that is a good idea (3, Insightful)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802265)

Storing data offsite is the only good way - even optical media is still vulnerable to a nuclear strike.<g> Of course, if you get nuked, your backups will probably be the least of your concerns.

The best backup solution would be a bunker with hard drives, backed up via fiber in real time.

Re:I don't know if that is a good idea (1)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802393)

Nope, backed up in real time means that when random crap gets put in a drive, or somebody gets hacked (or a VP deletes an important file), thats toast. Gotta be real time plus alternation.

Optical isn't necessarily immune to EMP (2, Interesting)

SecGreen (577669) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802273)

Haven't you ever put a CDR [pan-tex.net] in a microwave [knoware.nl] ? Pretty lights! (I take no responsibility for any damage to your microwave...)

Re:Optical isn't necessarily immune to EMP (4, Funny)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802383)

Uh, if you have enough voltage differential to be creating microwave level effects in free space then data backup has ceased to be a concern.

In all likelihood the entire human race has also ceased to be a concern.

Re:I don't know if that is a good idea (2, Funny)

bmongar (230600) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802276)

There has to be a better way than relying on anything stored in magnetic format

We could punch into paper tape.

Wow (0, Troll)

Colonel Failure (609420) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802149)

That would take a while to fill with MP3s!

This would work for limited installations (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802151)

But as large as harddrives are getting, the demand for backup will still be larger. I don't see this as taking over tape any time soon. People have been talking about how big harddrives are getting and about the demise of tape for a long time.

Just remember, if you can build something like this for backup, you can also build something like this for regular storage... and then what will you do if you need to back it up? Especially if you need to have a 6 month rotating backup...

I'm afraid it will be back to tape then...

Re:This would work for limited installations (1)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802288)

Except tapes are more expensive than comparably-sized hard drive arrays. Just get a bigger hard drive array.

Re:This would work for limited installations (1)

Casca (4032) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802407)

What we need are really big lasers.

With a sufficiently powerful laser, you could encode the data and beam it off to some distant object. When the reflected beam finally reaches earth, there is your backed up data, ready for retrieval. You could pick a number of objects at varying distances to allow for longer backups of data, with reflection times of hours/days/weeks/years... Granted there would be some celestial issues that could corrupt your data, but if you picked a few redundant yet diverse backup sites I think you could get around even that.

Wow! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802158)

That's a lotta PrOn -- (had to be said)

Surprised it didn't happen sooner (4, Informative)

Dragonfly (5975) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802164)

I know of a lot of people (myself included) who use multiple external hard drives in rotation for their backups. Especially now with servers' hard drive capacities growing so fast. I just specc'd out a fileserver for a department at a cash-strapped public institution, and a tape drive big enough to backup the system's disk would have been more than 50% of the cost of the computer. Not to mention the cost of tapes. Instead I set them up with two firewire hard drives. For their needs, the reliability/longevity/cost equation made hard drives the best solution.

Re:Surprised it didn't happen sooner (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802298)

The adta on the hard drive is suseptiple to both mechanical failure and media failure.
With tape, if the reader fails, you will probably still have your data, and you can just find another reader.
I would also like to point out that HD manufactures our lowering there warrenty period. IT is only a matter of time before some cost cutting measure makes them use lower quality equipment and parts.

Re:Surprised it didn't happen sooner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802338)

Mmmm for some reason I don't see that working on the enterprise level.

Re:Surprised it didn't happen sooner (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802340)

Don't be - it did. Mainframers have been doing this for years. No...decades. They just do it better - disk as a backup or as a staging area for later writing to tape.

The staging solution has been available (fully automated) in Unixland for at least ten years.

Disk backups are fine for on-site backups but you still need off-site copies, which is done either by tape or over-the-wire synchronizing. The latter gets real pricey real quick.

Offsite? (5, Insightful)

da' WINS pimp (213867) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802170)

One thing about tape systems that I didn't see mentioned was the portability of the media. Data recovery is still impossible if your backup burns up along with your server. I don't see anyone rolling one of these out to the offsite storage.

Maybe you could do it with a big pipe between your backup location and your servers. But I bet that would cost a bundle in bandwidth.

Also did anyone notice that typo on UPS (maybe they were on drugs USP [usp.org] )! It took me a good minute to catch it.

Re:Offsite? (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802242)

That depends how "offsite" you want it to be. A fiber run across campus (say about a mile away) isn't too bad and can easily be Gigabit speeds.

I've been using HDDs for backup for awhile now. Tapes were just way too much hassle, too expensive, and too fragile for my daily backups. I don't have protection against fire, but the whole setup can backup 650GB (usable) of data, survive disk failure, and cost me $1500, and I built this a year and a half ago with 80GB drives. My nightly backups are fully automated, and I never have to worry about swapping out tapes or having one streach on me, and it was far cheaper than the equivelent tape based system.

Re:Offsite? (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802380)

Good point, he does talk about 100 nodes, why not have them on seperate ends of campus or even across town. Using longhaul fibre adapters they could go up 16 miles I believe without a repeater. So just devide the nodes into two groups and mirror the data to both sites, still be cheaper than tape. Sure it wouldn't work for a multinational corporation (for instance the telephone and transmitters in NY were often mirrored by being in each of the twin towers, this is now seen as being "not a good idea") but anything that takes out both ends of campus or two ends of town is probably so big that the universities last concerns will be the backup data.

Re:Offsite? (5, Interesting)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802310)

Well, they kind of flitted over it with one sentence:

There's one aspect in which Dr. Koch's backup system can't keep up with tape solutions: storing the backup medium in another location after the backup has been completed.

The article didn't address what to do in this case. Instead, they continued:

As long as this isn't necessary, Dr. Koch's backup system offers some rather unique advantages.

Given that it's hardware-focussed, maybe one can understand this omission, but here in the real world it's still important. So, yes, what does one do if one does need offsite storage? Realistically, I think your suggestion of a big pipe is about the only way. It's hardly feasible to hotswap loads of drives for your offsite storage every morning. (Yes, I know they're using IDE, but think Promise controllers.)

The question then becomes a comparison of the cost of providing for offsite storage in this manner versus the saved cost of replacing your tape library with associated robots, etc.

However, the article also discusses (very briefly) associated costs for specialized backup administrators, delays inherent in recovering from tape backups, etc., so they're not totally unaware of the real-world issue. I suspect they may have chosen to ignore this specific issue because (i) it wasn't an issue in this case study, and (ii) examining it would've been a touch difficult.

Theft (1)

knowledgepeacewi (523787) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802341)

portability of the media
Oh No! All of my backups are gone! Guy walked out of here with a backpack!

Help me understand... (4, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802174)

There's one aspect in which Dr. Koch's backup system can't keep up with tape solutions: storing the backup medium in another location after the backup has been completed.

As long as this isn't necessary, Dr. Koch's backup system offers some rather unique advantages.

Out of curiosity, what is the use of a backup that is not periodically rotated off-site? And by "off-site" I mean at least 50 km away? What happens when a tornado takes out the building holding the critical data AND the building holding that nice array of IDE drives 2 minutes apart?

sPh

Re:Help me understand... (2, Redundant)

nick-less (307628) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802230)

What happens when a tornado takes out the building holding the critical data AND the building holding that nice array of IDE drives 2 minutes apart?

torados are quite rare in Tübingen ;-)

however, a backup system like this protects you from (accidental) deletion of files and hardware failures. thats enough for many people..

Re:Help me understand... (1)

sphealey (2855) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802290)

torados are quite rare in Tübingen ;-)
Given that I live in Tornado Alley, I may be a bit sensitive on that topic!

However, three years ago I was visiting a number of my (then) employer's sites worldwide and there was a disturbing tendency for there to be a severe thunderstorm with tornado while I at a site - some in places where tornados are typically seen only once every 100 years. So don't be too sure!

But floods, large fires, or some sort of large-scale natural disaster can happen anywhere. Flooding anyone?

sPh

Re:Help me understand... (1)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802428)

Are fires also rare? What about earthquakes, mudslides, floods, terrorist attacks, or anything else that can effectively destroy a building?

however, a backup system like this protects you from (accidental) deletion of files and hardware failures. thats enough for many people..

Well then the spec'd system is vastly overdesigned for THAT. There are far easier ways to solve both.

It is possible to do off-site storage with drive arrays, but you have to design it into the system. As it is, this system solves little more than spending money.

Re:Help me understand... (1)

Jim_Hawkins (649847) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802370)

What happens when a tornado takes out the building holding the critical data AND the building holding that nice array of IDE drives 2 minutes apart?

That's preposterous! Everybody knows that tornados are very precise. The chance of the same tornado hitting one building and then hitting another 2 minutes away is very unlikely. Come on...anybody who watched Twister knows that. :-p

Re:Help me understand... (1)

SuDZ (450180) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802433)

"We got cows" !

SuDZ

Nice (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802179)

But how the heck do you take it offsite? One of the most important aspects of a good backup solution is to implement DRP's (disaster recovery plans), and those always include offsite storage. Many companies use third-party services for this purpose (basically a secure controlled tape storage facility).

So how do you do this in this scenario? I hope they have fantastic fire extinguishers.

Re:Nice (1)

rherbert (565206) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802268)

They've got this great thing called the Internet now.

And don't trifle me with complaints about bandwidth. Use rsync. If you're really generating so much new data every day that rsync is infeasible, then maybe you have to look at a different solution. But then tape probably isn't your answer, either.

I know why this was posted (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802180)

Dr Koch

And Professor Anus

homos

Slashdot 101: Intro to Sodomy is now in session!

It had to be said... (1)

Howard Beale (92386) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802189)

Could you imagine a beo....NO!! Dammit, I just can't do it!!!!

Doesn't make sense... (1)

stinkwinkerton (609110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802195)

OK, so you got your backup on IDE drives. Sweet. They kind of underplay the need for off-site storage in the article. If you are willing to go to the expense of this equipment, it seems like the $50,000 quoted for a robotic solution isn't necessarily a bad deal, is it? Is there concern about storage costs? If so, buy some fire safes and stick them in there at your boss' house. This seems like an interesting, expensive, unnecessary solution.

use online backup.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802207)

Personally I use online backup from www.firstbackup.com

Though I might be a bit biased since I helped develope the system. :)

All the data is mirrored in two locations ~25miles away. So unless a huge nuclear bomb goes off in northern Iowa and takes out both places at the same time I think my data is pretty safe.

Re:use online backup.... (1)

jemenake (595948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802336)

All the data is mirrored in two locations ~25miles away. So unless a huge nuclear bomb goes off in northern Iowa and takes out both places at the same time I think my data is pretty safe.
A nuclear bomb?

I've been to Iowa. Trust me... nobody want's to invade. In light of that, the only reason to detonate a bomb there would be to make it less inhabitable... which I'm not sure even a nuke could do to Iowa...

... so, I'd say the "nuclear bomb" probability is marginally more than zero.

uh huh (2, Interesting)

hotrodman (472382) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802214)


So, I come in, hit the systems with a hammer, and you're done. A virus wipes you out. A malicous hacker, a stupid user, kernel oops that fucks up the filesystem, something. No tapes to go back to. Not to mention that old data that isn't being used can be archived off to tape, which may end up costing less in the long run that more and more hard drives - hard drives use power, remember?
I never understand how you can trust you data to ONLY be on media that is tied to the mechanism. If the mechanism fails catastrophically, you're screwed. Tape separates the media from the mechanism, so a mechanism failure doesn't make your media worthless. Hard drives break eventually, tape is usually good for a number of years, (DLT, AIT, LTO, etc...)

Just a thought, anyway...
-E

Re:uh huh (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802349)

I don't know of many tapes that would survive being pounded with a hammer.

Malicious hackers can corrupt the data that gets backed up onto tapes. There is also nothing stopping someone from only having part of the backup pool online at any one time.

We're going to address the need for taking backups offline where I work by only having the backup server bring up its network interface when it is actually doing backups. We use very similar setups [smythco.com] to the one featured here, 3ware and ATA drives.

We already have offsite backups using ATA-RAID systems at an out-of-state corporate location, and rsync incremental backups. It runs nightly and never needs to do a full backup, it only transfers the files that have changed. Our application is one where we have huge amounts of data, but less than 1% of it changes per day.

You have a valid point about media and mechanism, but tapes are not immune to failure either. It just means you need a little more redundancy with disks than you would need with tapes, to get the same level of reliability.

We've been using Terabyte+ ATA RAIDs for over a year now, it's worked out well. The main trouble was cabling 24 PATA disks onto 3 PCI cards, but SATA is going to fix that shortly, and then you will really see some massive ATA RAID systems.

HDD Tapestream (1, Funny)

termos (634980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802216)

Hard drives are faster
Tapes are expensive, HDDs are cheap in comparison
My C64 uses tapes, I don't even see the competition between these two.

Re:HDD Tapestream (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802328)

"My C64 uses tapes, I don't even see the competition between these two."

Carefull, your ignorance is showing.

Tape technology not keeping pace... (4, Informative)

jafo (11982) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802222)

The unfortunate thing is that tape technology just hasn't kept pace with disc technology. Back in my first job, we were backing up $1,000 20MB drives onto $40 200MB tapes. If that held true, today we would have $4 tapes that would hold around a terrabyte of data...

But, we now have $100 tapes that hold as much data as a $100 hard drive.

We switched over to hard drives for our backups at our (modest) server facility. Late last year we spent $2000 on a system with 600GB of RAID-5 protected storage. That holds current and historic backups, for around 6 months with our current load. We then weekly dump the current data-set off to a removable 120GB hard drive, which we take off-site.

Tapes are SO dead...

It works great.

Sean

Re:Tape technology not keeping pace... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802248)

$2000 on a system with 600GB of RAID-5

Show me where I can get 5x600GB of HDD space for $2000, please.

Re:Tape technology not keeping pace... (1)

agw (6387) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802337)

So if you accidently delete your backup server, there is no archive or backup at all?
Only the removable 120GB harddrive that just fell on the floor?

Re:Tape technology not keeping pace... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802403)

So your assuming the original, backup and backup's backup all fail at the same time. Can't you also assume that the original and offsite tape both fail? Seems like the likelyhood of either happening is about the same.

Re:Tape technology not keeping pace... (4, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802346)

No, you have $150 tapes that hold 1 TB of IT data. They can be written to at 60MB/s. Tape is compact, requrires no power, it is light, transportable and sturdy. The only major drawback as a backup method is the cost of the drives. (Which gets paid off quickly.)

To backup a storage pool with under a couple of TB of storage, tape is indeed stupid. If what you need is truly massive amounts of storage that does not need to be accessed instantaneously, tape cannot be beat.

Re:Tape technology not keeping pace... (0, Redundant)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802382)

Where can we get these magical TB tapes again?

Re:Tape technology not keeping pace... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802438)

Man, I wish I could be there when someone drops a hard drive.

And what happens when your raid card gets flakey and begins to write garbage data? what if that happen on day 6 of your 7 day back up cycle?

Some larg instiution need backups in the terra byte range, and they need some data back-ups physically seperate from other data.
And they want to automated. and off site every day. Hard drive solution will not work.

Tape will be with us for a while yet... (5, Interesting)

sirwired (27582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802231)

Right now, Sony is shipping Super-AIT tapes. The cartridges are about 3/8 of an inch thick, and each holds 500GB, before compression (which is integrated in the drive hardware). The drive can read or write at 30MB/s, before compression. With typical IT compression of 2:1, you get just under 60MB/s. The cartridge goes for about $150. Just try and get a terabyte of disk for that much. No, the drives aren't cheap, but they get paid off quickly.

Yes, disk is good if you need instant access to your backup, and for small installations of under a couple of TB, using disk backups make sense, but for larger data pools, tape is far more economical.

Also, as mentioned in the article, disk is terrible if you need off-site backups. In addition, a tape library consumes far less power, takes up less space, and produces less heat than a drive array of the same capacity.

Basically, the death of tape has been predicted for years, but it hasn't happened yet.

Re:Tape will be with us for a while yet... (3, Insightful)

sirinek (41507) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802289)

Right on. :) Most ./ers dont know anything about enterprise systems. Thats why you see them rail against commercial unices, because they only know Windows/Mac/Linux/*BSD. This carries over into tape backup strategy. They dont know anything about high-end tape technology, so you will see them suggest things like using large IDE harddrives because it sounds so simple on the surface. To do backups to disk right (and then to tape, because you really should) you need a real SAN though.

ack! (4, Insightful)

mhatle (54607) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802240)

I looked at doing something similar (but on a smaller scale) for my home.. but the amount of power that a hard drive based storage system takes is amazing. In additional IDE hard drives arn't know for their reliability.. :P (I've had numerous IDE raids fail spectacularly to the point I won't do that again...)

I ended up going on ebay and getting a StorageTek 9714 "Media Library" with 2 DLT 4000 drives in it. It takes a maximum of 2A of power.. (I've measured it much lower then that when the tape drives arn't in use..) This sucker will store up to 2.4 TB ( 1.2 TB uncompressed) in the 60 available tape slots..

The electricity saves more then makes up for the cost of the tapes.. (Also I expect the tapes to last approx 5-10 years.. I wouldn't expect that with the hard drives.)

--Mark

Why not Quantum DX-30 (5, Informative)

harmless_mammal (543804) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802252)

Instead of building a giant kluge, why didn't they buy a few Quantum DX-30s? Each one only takes up 4U, holds 20 drives, and the internal software emulates a tape library so it easily integrates with enterprise backup software from Legato or Veritas. If your environment requires off-site storage, you could attach a tape library to clone the backups and then store the tapes off-site.

Not New (1)

Kruid (646582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802256)

Disk backups have been around for awhile, companies such as veritas, storagetek, emc, etc. offer Point in Time backups to disk, as an itermediary to tape. As others have stated, you still need offsite for DR.

Isn't this a dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802264)

Isn't this a dupe?

Storage Area Networks (1)

Neologic (48268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802283)

The idea of making backups on hard disks is not new- storage area networks (SAN) do this and they avoid the issues with off-site backups by connecting the storage media via a wide area network. This does create potential problems with network bottlenecks, BUT it does allow for a quick transport (at the speed of network) of the data off-site. Additionally, it allows for quicker disaster recovery- reconnect your network and download the data, voila! In fact, it really sounds like the good doctor in the article just made a local area storage network.

Re:Storage Area Networks (1)

Neologic (48268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802364)

Here is a link [dell.com] to a decent paper comparing the topology of SAN's to conventional tape/LAN based backup solutions:

Moving data offsite (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802294)

To all those people that are asking how to move data offsite. This is why employers ask puzzle questions...so they can find people that can think through the problem and don't need to be shown how to do every damn thing.

Just because tapes have always been driven to their destination doesn't mean that's the only way data can move.

As others have pointed out, you can build the hard drive backup offsite and move the data there periodically over this new invention, the internet.

Re:Moving data offsite (1)

sirwired (27582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802426)

For a backup of say, the system mentioned in the article, the bandwidth required to back that system up over the internet would be truly a fortune. So, no, for large backups, you cannot cheaply move the data over the internet.

I wouldn't want to support it... (2, Insightful)

Saint Mitchell (144618) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802300)

There is no way I would want to support that monster. I didn't see any mention of what happens when a drive fails. It's cake with most any SCSI Raid controllers. Look for the orange light, change the disk. Even promise makes IDE enclosures that do the same. With this system, do you have to take down the node when a drive fails? Sure it's a ton of space, but I'd give up some of the space for some easier administration. It only costs $70 per promise enclosure. That'll add about $12,000. So what. when you've spent $450,000 what's the big deal.

It's a worthwhile idea (1)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802314)

I've been looking into backup to disk lately. We do about 600 Gig a week onto LTO tapes, 500 Gig of full and 100 of incrementals across all systems.

My preference would be two sets of 4x160 in a RAID 5, using two Adaptec 2400 ATA RAID cards. That'd give me a formatted capacity of 2x 409 gigs. I'd want two of those systems available so I could have two fulls and two sets of incrementals on hand at any one time.

The only stumbling blocks I've found are: finding a 2 or 3U box that will accept two of the 2400 cards and that will also provide space, cooling and power for 8 or 9 ATA160 drives. Some of the systems designed to be RAID cabinets or the bigger 4U systems might work, but short ATA cables are tough to work with and some of the front bay mounts may not provide the cabling length.

I'd probably back up the backed-up store onto tape to meet offsite backup requirements, although I'm not entirely sure how well that would work.

never (1)

AbdullahHaydar (147260) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802317)

Hard Drives will never replace tapes for a couple of simple reasons:

  • Hard drives crash and die. tapes do not (they die for other reasons, but not as readily.) regardless of raid or anything else, the fact that hard drives eventually fall off and die is problematic.
  • By the time hard drives are reliable enough, everything will be backed up in some new kind of storage anyway. magnetic media will be dead at that point.

They may not need offsite storage (1)

panurge (573432) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802318)

The point is, what is the worst case disaster that can happen on site? If the site itself is sufficiently secure, there may be little point in having off-site storage for relatively shortlived data. It's pretty difficult to steal one of these systems, and if it is in a tornado-proof basement suitably protected from flooding, anything that takes out both it and all the surrounding systems with the live data is also likely to take out the need for the data. It's clear that this is transient stuff - not like financial information that has to be kept for years and years.

What's the point!? (1)

nemaispuke (624303) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802324)

If I wanted to do something like this I would use a NetworkAppliance Filer which "speaks" both NFS and CIFS natively, and uses snapshot techology. There is nothing like "drag and drop restores" from a read only copy of the data (snapshot reserve) and the ability to back up the snapshot without worrying about open files! And yes I would use tape to back up the Filer! Obviously the software is custom written for this particular use and considering there are any number of commercial alternatives, I just don't see the point other than to say "we built it ourselves". It might be faster, but you had better hope nothing fails!

Re:What's the point!? (1)

edspunky (304089) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802434)

In fact, Network Appliance already makes a couple of large scale "NearStore" devices which use ATA drives for the express purpose of short-term backup and archival. You can use the data online (albeit with a little less performance than a normal filer) or for quick backups, and then from there you can back *that* up to tape if necessary, or use their data replication tools to deliver it offsite to other filers, etc.

Finally!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802347)

Enough storage space for all my Pr0n!!

woot!

Bad idea. (3, Funny)

Znonymous Coward (615009) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802359)

A hard drive is sensitive to vibrations and has too many moving parts. The only reliable backup media is punch cards. Just don't store them near liquids.

Questionable Motherboard Choice (1)

ambit (208647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802374)

I'm not sure I would have choosen that motherboard for this task. There have been quite a few [2cpu.com] [forums.2cpu.com] people that have actually had the ATX Connector melt and burn out on them. It seems to be related to the fact that the TigerMP (2460) does not have a seperate 5/12v aux. header that most other dual AMD's have. So it ends up pulling all the juice it needs from ATX connector and melts it.
High powered CPU's and PCI cards drawing off the 5v rail cause this most often, and these boards have 2 x 1500 MP's and 3 x 3Ware RAID cards. (The RAID cards should be running at 3.3v though)
I personally have 3 of the TigerMP's and plan on replacing them very soon for this reason.

In Soviet Russia (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802389)

hard drive back you up!

It makes sense... (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802391)

I've been running four 120GB drives in a RAID5 configuration at home for about six months now. It makes sense, since it's online storage, not offline, it's relatively fault-tolerant, and if I do lose a drive, I'll just shut the server down until I have replaced the drive, so to ensure that I don't lose more drives. I know that it'll have a higher change of catastrophic failure later, but it's not going to be any worse than tape's 20-30% fault rate, so I'll gladly live with it.

Besides, I'm the only one of my group of friends with 360GB fault tolerant storage online. It's good for geek-factor.

Three Words: (2, Informative)

Null_Packet (15946) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802397)

Spinning Disk Backups

It's being done all over. Some people are using Network Appliances, some people are using Linux machines. Even Legato, a major player in the backup market supports backup 'staging' to spinning disk to decrease backup windows.

Nothing new here (1)

bolix (201977) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802410)

This isn't exactly revolutionary. Its on the scale of the Klep Supercomputers, Google cache, WETA rendershop etc ...

1) A disk based archive
2) Acceptance of potential data loss
3) Consumer level hardware
4) No offsite storage

What happens if:

1) theres a Twente scale fire, flood etc ?
2) you loose 2/3/4/+ drives in your RAID array?

AFAIK ATA writes sequentially, an ATA RAID is well suited for a sequential backup solution. Standard SCSI SANs suit the more multi-stream hungry DB, file server farms etc.

Buy don't build (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5802416)

Get A NetApp or some similar device and be done with it.

Tape vs disk backups (2, Insightful)

mikefocke (64233) | more than 11 years ago | (#5802417)

If you backup to disk, do you have the legal records you are required to keep?

I've been saved several times by being able to retrieve files 5 years old that the lawyers wanted. Because I had multiple layers of backup, even though I deleted the files from my system 3 years ago, I was able to retrieve the files from tape. They were worth far more to the lawyers than the cost of the whole backup system and tapes could ever have cost.

The typical disk backup setup does not support such archiving in depth. And disks do not like to be stored without being used so trying to read a disk that was written 2 years ago is very problematic if it hasn't been rotated and kept warm and free from condensation that plays havoc with bearings.

We use disk backups for nightly and weekly backups to allow quick restores from the aw shucks events that do occur but we also back up everything to tape and archive it off site.
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