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Air-Gapped Backup Tape


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Unfortunately I'm trying to figure out if adding tape to my backup solution makes sense for my small business. My organization hasn't used tape for a long time though and I'm having trouble finding resources to get me started. I have a win 10 desktop with a PCIe slot so I think I'm looking for an external LTO6 drive, some sort of SAS cable and a pcie card to connect them. 

Does anyone have any suggestions or resources to point me to?

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The TL;DR is: "It probably doesn't make sense"

Depending on what the data is, how much of it you have, and what your regulatory situation looks like, cloud backups or an on-prem HDD based solution are likely better options.

Unless there is a very specific reason you're looking at LTO-6, don't buy an LTO-6 drive.  LTO-6 is dead and being phased out, options are already becoming limited (and they're freaking slow).

One of my last projects at my last job was migrating the secondary backup system off LTO-5 and LTO-6 tapes to LTO-8 (LTO-9 wasn't out yet, but we knew it was coming and the compatibility limitations), which only made sense due to a combination of regulatory requirements and regulator idiocy.  LTO-7 tapes in an LTO-8 drive had the best $/GB (M-mode)... but LTO-7 is on the way out, LTO-9 drives can't read LTO-7 media.  Fortunately, the LTO-8 tapes do work in LTO-9 drives, are very close on $/GB and LTO-9 only launched last year (so LTO-8 tapes should have 7-10 years of drive availability left).  When you're already looking at ~$4k for an LTO-8 drive, might as well spend the extra for LTO-9 and be sure you'll have something that can write to media LTO-10 drives will read.  Speaking of spending extra, the cost difference between a single desktop drive and a rackmount one with an autochanger is "only" ~$1k and makes your backups and tape rotation a massively less manual process (go from changing tapes daily to once a year).

Which brings us nicely to the subject of money.  People don't think of tape as expensive, but the drives are freaking expensive.  You need to be doing a LOT of tapes before you overcome that initial cost.  Like, you can buy >200TB of raw HDD space for what your first 12TB of tape is going to cost you (the advantage of tape is, after that, every subsequent 12TB is only ~$60).  I'm using the raw capacity of tapes because their listed "compressed" capacities are BS if your files have any sort of existing compression and anything that does benefit will see similar savings on disk.

And that's not even touching on performance... it's "fine" for big continuous transfers (like a backup or full restore) but their whole "oh, you can use it just like a hard drive" spiel doesn't mention the hard drive it's like using is from the 1970s... and not a good one.  Think, 30 second seek times.  Not milliseconds, full seconds.

Compatibility info: https://www.lto.org/lto-generation-compatibility/

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Thanks NTL. I already back up to HDD so this is for a situation where someone smarter than me breaks through all the barriers I have set up to prevent ransomware. 

I was thinking LTO-6 because of cost, I need to backup less than 2 TB and I figured I could find something cheaper that would last me 5 years until I figure something else out. 

Since it sounds like cost is a barrier I'll look closer at the cloud backup for that purpose.

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