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Tape Vaulting – The Importance of Offsite Storage

The Importance of Offsite Storage

Tape Vaulting

Mission-critical data must be backed up and taken offsite daily and stored in a secure location immune from site-level damage. This just makes common sense. Moving data to a separate, offsite location called vaulting dilutes risk and protects against data loss when, for example, the company's physical site is damaged by fire, water, or other natural disasters.

Make sure your off site storage facility meets environmental storage requirements and periodically inspect your vaulted media for signs of obvious damage or contamination.

Special consideration needs to be given to your archive tapes. In order to achieve the archive life specified for your media, archive tapes must be stored according to the archive temperature and humidity requirements specified by the manufacturer. Usually these requirements are more stringent than normal storage facilities' operating temperatures and humidity. It is important that your offsite facility meet the appropriate environmental conditions so that your data is recoverable many years later if you need it.

As mentioned previously, it is essential to make a duplicate copy of your archive tapes. These duplicate long-term storage tapes need to be stored separately, in geographically diverse locations, to protect them from pervasive natural disasters that can affect an entire area. For example, in an earthquake zone such as New Zealand, tape vault storage should be 160 kilometres away from a quake zone.

One recommended practice is to have an offsite storage service provider come onsite daily to remove tapes for offsite storage and return other tapes for re-introduction to the scratch pool. These vendors, along with others, maintain climate-controlled facilities nationally and internationally.

Tracking which media is offsite vs. onsite can be daunting without the right tools. According to a Meta Group Study, 77% of end-users say that their backup software helps them track their offsite media. However, this number drops significantly with lower-end backup software packages. Without this functionality, some users maintain a manual log to keep track of their offsite media. In addition, there are specific software packages or modules that work with your backup software program specifically designed for media cataloguing. Consider this option if your offsite media tracking is burdensome.

Finally, vaulting should always include everything that is necessary to implement a fully functional system, so that if all equipment at the corporate site is damaged, the company will still be able to access and retrieve stored data at the off-site location.

In that regard, make sure your backup plan calls for vaulting current copies of the operating system, the backup/recovery software, application software, and other data-related devices. If your hardware has been significantly upgraded, vault the legacy systems and originating applications too tape drives, interconnects, computers, and backup software whatever it takes to restore data in the future.

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