After Sandy, Thinking About Offsite Backup

Data backup, archiving and recovery aren’t exactly sexy. They are mundane tasks that IT doesn’t get too excited about. But then along comes a once-in-a-decade event like Superstorm Sandy, and suddenly secure data backup and recovery is the most exciting thing in the world, at least to businesses that find themselves in the path of the storm. Not in a hurricane zone? What about a fire or even a water pipe that bursts?

Among Sandy’s painful lessons is the importance of offsite archival backup, and what’s interesting is that despite developments in the cloud-based backup market, good old-fashioned offsite tape backup still leads the way in value and robustness, at least when it’s done right.

According to Iron Mountain’s 2011 Data Backup and Recovery Report, 66 percent of lost data is irrecoverable after a natural or man-made disaster, and that alone is a very compelling reason to make sure you’re backed up before a storm arrives. Offsite data archiving requires time and planning, but the payoff can be huge.

When disaster strikes, an offsite data backup plan will minimize the threat to your data. A well-designed plan includes secure storage of paper and electronic documents in a climate-controlled environment far enough away from your office so that one storm can’t harm both locations. But just because the records are distant doesn’t mean they end up being inaccessible. A storage partner should be able to provide you with on-demand access to both paper and electronic files and file information either online or via fast delivery.

And why would you consider using tape as your storage medium for long-term storage? Tape is a cost-effective way to preserve archival information that you may need some day for an audit or litigation but don’t need for daily access. With a 40-year lifespan and capacities that are consistently on the rise (LTO-5 tape capacity is an impressive 1.5 terabytes), tape is a good choice for inactive data. In fact, the Enterprise Strategy Group predicts that storing digital archives to tape will increase six-fold between 2010 and 2015 to more than 81,000 petabytes (or 81 billion gigabytes) at prices lower than cloud-based archiving providers can currently offer.

It’s no fun thinking about what disasters—either man-made or natural—could do to your business, but what’s even less fun is thinking about what the day after could look like. It’s better to be prepared.