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June 13, 2012

Affordable Disaster Recovery: Despite Complexity, Tapes Work

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Disaster Recovery Lemons
Preparing for a data disaster is one of those projects that are always getting pushed back in small and medium sized businesses. The daily proverbial “fires” seem to take precedence over getting ready for an actual fire, server crash, earthquake, theft, or hurricane.
 
Implementing a data disaster recovery strategy is critical, but is often delayed for 2 reasons:
 
•   The complexity of evaluating business operations to find the critical data that needs to be made available first after a disaster, then calculating the target RPO and RTO for that data.
 
•   The perception that a disaster recovery solution that meets targets is too expensive
 
As Storage Switzerland noted recently, tapes are holding their position as an affordable backup solution that can also be used for disaster recovery. So, if you are using tape for backup here’s how to set up for recovery after a data disaster:
 

1. Optimize Tape Rotation For Recovery

 
Consider keeping Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday tapes with full overnight backups of everything and taking them off site each day. These are the tapes you’d restore in a disaster recovery scenario.
 
Then, depending on the needs of your business, have another set, for example each Friday of the month. They can stay onsite in a fireproof safe, for recovering an accidentally deleted folder, for example. Most safes aren’t melt proof, so after a certain amount of time the tapes will still be vulnerable, so remember to consider the level of heat protection being offered when you’re shopping for a safe.
 
Then, for archival purposes, make 6 (or 3 or 9) monthly tapes, that can stay in the same fireproof safe. Finally, once a year, run a backup and take it to a bank safety deposit box.
 

2. Consider The Recovery Environment

 
This is the part that’s hard to generalize about. Depending on your geography and environment, think through the factors that will limit your recovery capabilities after a disaster.
 
Are you in a tornado prone area? It may take days to receive a new server after a storm damages road and communication infrastructure in the area. In this case, an extra auto-loader and server could be kept offsite with the daily backup tapes. The offsite storage location might also be where you’d personally go during an evacuation, for example.
 
In a fire or theft scenario, new hardware can be overnighted, but that still puts company data at a 24-36 hour recovery window. This may be a manageable risk or totally unacceptable, depending on the nature of the business.
 
As the title of this post suggests, using tape backups for disaster recovery can be pretty complex, but are a good way to leverage existing equipment to get a DR strategy in place.
 
Of course, with Zetta’s DR-as-a-Service protecting data offsite can be done over the web in a matter of minutes, with no-touch daily backups and instant recovery. Tapes will work fine, it’s just that Zetta works better.

Courtenay Troxel
About the Author Courtenay is Zetta.net's content creator, marketing strategist, and ninja in training.
Zetta.net is an enterprise-grade cloud and local backup, archiving, and disaster recovery solution for small- and midsize businesses, MSPs, and VARs.
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