Network Data: Backup Tapes and Tape Drives

By Doug Lowe

One of the benefits of using a tape backup for your network data is that you can run it unattended. In fact, you can schedule a tape backup to run automatically during off hours when no one is using the network. For unattended backups to work, you must ensure that you have enough tape capacity to back up your entire network server’s hard drive without having to manually switch tapes.

If your network server has only 100GB of data, you can easily back it up onto a single tape. If you have 1,000GB of data, however, invest in a tape drive that features a magazine changer that can hold several tapes and automatically cycle them in and out of the drive. That way, you can run your backups unattended.

You have several distinct types of tape backup systems to choose from:

  • Travan drives: A popular style of tape backup for small servers is a Travan drive, which comes in a variety of models with tape capacities ranging from 20GB to 40GB. You can purchase a 20GB drive for less than $200.

  • DAT, DLT, and LTO units: For larger networks, you can get tape backup units that offer higher capacity and faster backup speed than Travan drives — for more money, of course.

    Digital audio tape (DAT) units can back up as much as 80GB on a single tape, and DLT (digital linear tape) drives can store up to 800GB on one tape. Linear tape open (LTO) drives can store 1.5TB on a single tape. DAT, DLT, and LTO drives can cost $1,000 or more, depending on the capacity.

  • Robotic units: If you’re really up the backup creek, with hundreds of gigabytes to back up, you can get robotic tape backup units that automatically fetch and load tape cartridges from a library. That way, you can do complete backups without having to load tapes manually.

    As you can likely guess, these units aren’t inexpensive: Small ones, which have a library of about eight tapes and a total backup capacity of more than 5,000GB, start at about $4,000.