This Year, Resolve to Gain Control of Your Backup Tapes

by Dean Felicetti

With the New Year now upon us and a bright 2020 ahead, everyone begins to adopt a familiar mantra: “out with the old!”

Whether it’s old habits, old ideas, or old clothes, everyone is eager to purge their lives of the clutter that ties them to the past.

Many businesses also find themselves tied to their past, though often that past goes much further back than 2019 or 2018. They find themselves loaded with ESI that may reside on “non-standard” media. For most of them the culprit is backup tapes, and they have lots of them.

Backup tape media comes in a variety of formats and is praised for its security, storage, and low cost. Over time, the improved accessibility and storage capacity of network and cloud-based repositories have led many companies to reduce their reliance on backup tapes or implement a hybrid approach. And, while backup tapes have not lost all value – they are still used to support business continuity by backing up cloud data and being the number one solution in protecting against ransomware.

Organizations continue to store old backup tapes, often not fully aware of their contents or their accessibility, and they are now left with a universe of tapes. Keeping backup tapes around indefinitely can be expensive, impractical and expensive. The data becomes increasingly difficult to access, and with a shelf life on most tape media, data corruption looms large. In short, the cost of maintaining mountains of archaic media increases the longer it is held.

Keeping backup tapes without a defensible chain, index or cataloging process can also pose a legal liability, as the data stored there can still be brought up in discovery even if it’s been maintained longer than legally required. Conversely, destroying or disposing of that data prematurely could pose a significant liability in the event of a litigation or investigation.

Certainly companies should not be faulted for storing and protecting their data. After all, it is a valuable asset. But, there is a better and more modern way to do it. The solution(s) lie in comprehensive indexing, retention and remediation solutions.

Most IT departments, and plenty of outside media vendors, are capable of copying the contents of tapes and uploading it into their current data storage system. However, tapes come in all shapes and sizes, each running off their own specific software, sometime proprietary. Working in such a diverse world requires a lot of costly infrastructure that few ordinary media vendors will have.

The right way to handle backup tape media starts with hiring backup tape services professionals. Properly trained experts will have the ability and infrastructure to preserve, sample, re-mediate, catalog, and restore data from a wide variety of tapes. In addition to using proper techniques when working with the media, experts will also strictly adhere to chain of custody protocols, taking into consideration both the physical and logical handling of backup tapes and their data.

“Our implemented defensible chain of custody and intake processes coupled with our backup tape indexing and vaulting allows our clients the luxury of managing the preservation and storage of ESI, with a cost effective, defensible means to lessening the risk in managing a few to tens of thousands of backup tapes”. Dean Felicetti Co-Founder and Partner with The Oliver Group and VP Information Governance RVM Inc.

In the end, your company will benefit from having a more efficient and accessible data storage system. And, should the backup data ever be called into question as part of a legal inquiry or investigation, you can be confident that it will stand up to any challenges.

So for 2020, see to it that your company resolves to gain control of their backup tapes.