Fast, cheap, and good- You Can Have All Three

by Carla Schroder

As hard drive capacities outstripped CDs and DVDs, hard-drive based backups became necessary. (I know y'all tape backup fans are still out there. You may have your cumbersome, slow, unwieldy, mechanically clunky tape backups with their even slower, more cumbersome restores. Kthxbye). For my clients I am very diligent and make sure they are well-protected. But for me- well, you know how it goes.


2006-11-10 03:07:27
Nice indeed. I bought myself two spare 80GB harddrives yesterday too because'my home lan is in constant chaos too:-)
2006-11-10 03:42:04

But being "knowledgable" about HDD-Tech ... I _do_ notice that _last_ paragraph lacks one significant (!) aspect.

... drop a tape ... it's dropped, pick it up and continue living
... drop a drive ... it's droppen, pick it up, throw it away and ...

I'm personally lacking the "safe"-aspect of Backups to HDD ...


2006-11-10 09:40:37
Hmm, you mentioned hdd backups...and what when there's overvoltage ? You loose your hardware - ok, that can be replaced very shortly but you loose your hdd drives that were also touched by overvoltage and their electronics burned...?
Tapes and MO discs are (i suppose) much more resistive to above situation. Don't you think...?
Carla Schroder
2006-11-10 10:06:03
Tape does have the advantage of longevity. I don't consider any kind of digital storage to have more than 5-7 years' shelf life. We can't count on it for long-term archiving. Tapes are supposed to be good for 30 years or more, which is still pipsqueak compared to paper, stone tablets, and parchment. Which is maybe a good thing- then people of the future won't be reading our private papers centuries hence.

Tape backups are so much fun. Yes, if you drop a tape it won't be damaged, and you can still read your data, provided you have the exactly correct machine to read it in, and the exactly correct software. Tape backups have their place. Just not on my networks where I want speed, ease of use, and user-accessible backup archives. Though it is kind of a nice nap opportunity when I'm waiting to retrieve a file from a tape backup. Whirr whirr whirr for the longest time- very soothing.

Overvoltage kills all kinds of elecronics. That's why we use nice backup power units with line conditioning and surge protectors. And why we also have offsite network backups.

2006-11-10 11:44:02
Tape does have the advantage of longevity. I don't consider any kind of digital storage to have more than 5-7 years' shelf life

Backups are not archives. Backups are for when you go "Where's my data?" "Oops, I deleted by accident".

Most restores are within days of the data loss. So having backups that are old really doesn't apply in most cases. That's what archives are for.

Backup to disk on a regular basis. Kick out an archive of that backup (on tape, DVD or USB drive) to put off site on a less regular basis.

Overvoltage? I can get a power strip type UPS to stick that USB drive on for $25. It's going to help for that short power blip.

Dropped tapes? DLTs are pretty fragile. You're not supposed to drop them. In the above scheme, your backup medium doesn't have to detach and travel. Your archives do.

anjan bacchu
2006-11-10 12:14:35

nice post.

"if some redneck meth-head (of which there are many out here in the sticks) (but fortunately it's OK to greet them with loaded firearms) rips me off I'll still have my data."

Now, I'm assuming that meant that if someone hacks into your system to wipe off your data off the hard drive!. If correct, then what prevents this redneck from deleting your backup drive as well ?

thank you,


anjan bacchu
2006-11-10 12:26:25
hi there,

Another solution I've given : why NOT do a quick backup to HDD and then, when convenient, do TAPE backup ? A lot of enterprises regularly bring systems down for hours daily to do TAPE backup. Not realizing that HDD backups can be really fast. Especially, USB 2.0 HDD backups should be decently fast.

Also, I wonder whether it would make sense to have a unit which consolidates a USB HDD and a Tape in a single unit which does the above backup method. As far as the user is considered, he/she is done BACKING as soon as the HDD backup is completed, and he/she can be notified when the TAPE BACKUP is done as well.

Any thoughts ?


Carla Schroder
2006-11-16 10:22:51
Good points, all. This is a short-term backup plan, and not suitable for longer-term archiving, though I still question the value of tape backups for that. You're still going to have to keep an eye on available technology to be able to read old tapes. They won't do you much good thirty years later if you don't have a drive or software to retrieve the data, or the right software to read the file formats.

As for rampaging rednecks, it doesn't matter if they steal the physical drives or hack in remotely- they still can't get to my remote offsite backups. :)

2007-08-20 23:33:24
Please keep this up! I swear it's hard to find your kind of writing elsewhere. It's conversational. I understood you were going to drop TLJ. I hope you'll reconsider. Anyway, I do enjoy the writing. I am an XP user who still sees installing and using Ubuntu, as 'slumming it'. So, it helps to read material that isn't clipped and/or preachy, or ridden with spelling and grammar errors... and worst of all, wanting in the area of good manners. This is my impression of Linux/Ubuntu help forums. There are few Linux writers who can write about Linux without becoming doctrinaire or dogmatic or paranoid sounding. Cooler, kinder heads are needed. Yours is one of those. thank you
2008-01-01 20:42:40
I bought a Samba hard drive enclosure and was thinking of taking my hard drive out of my old Dell Optiplex (2000)My question is if I take my hard drive out of my workstation will I still be able to access ALL my applications or will I loose them? Could you please shed some light on this for me. Thank you in advance

Santa Clara, CA