Storage Basics: Backup Strategies, Part 2 Page 3


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Other Backup Alternatives

While a LAN-free or server-free backup solution may be the answer to eliminating the backup window issue, they are often too costly for many organizations to implement. This can lead to rather creative methods of increasing the speed of the backup process or working within limited backup windows.

One method that keeps surfacing is replacing tape with hard disks, as backups to disks are faster. While there isn’t the space in this article to fully explore the tape vs. hard disk debate, we can say that in most environments, tape is still the leader. While hard disks are able to store and retrieve data faster than tape and provide real-time transmissions, tape media is the clear choice in terms of better portability and security. While hard disk transfers may be faster, newer tape devices are able to transfer large amounts of data at reasonable speeds.

Tape backups do have some drawbacks, including a shorter media and drive lifetime than their hard disk counterparts. Hard disks, however, are often viewed as a security vulnerability point, as data on the hard disk can be live and accessible to the network. Still, if the backup window for a network is a real concern and time is critical, a combination of tape and hard disk backups may be the solution.


In summary, coping with the issue of the backup window can be a costly endeavor for an organization. As the traffic generated by backups continues to grow, solutions will be needed that can handle the load without disruption to the production LAN. While some band-aid solutions, such as hard disk backups, may buy some time, the trend is certainly toward taking the backup traffic off of the LAN.

LAN-free backups allow network servers to share tape libraries and also allow faster backups than would be possible when backing up using a regular LAN. With the majority of backup traffic removed from the LAN, the LAN is free for other uses. Server-free backups take this one step further by taking backup traffic away from the server and transferring directly from disk to tape.

» See All Articles by Columnist Mike Harwood

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