Despite the popularity of cloud storage services, many companies continue to cling to the use of Tape backups as part of their disaster recovery strategy. In an interview with IT ProPortal,  Peter Groucutt, Managing Director of Databarracks, reports of the tape’s death are “greatly exaggerated”.  “Storage prices have reduced to make cloud backup viable for the majority of the market, but the lowest-cost method of storage is still tape,” he says. “For organizations with vast data volumes – in industries such as life sciences or broadcast media – it meets that need.” While the use of tape is still common, there are now far more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective ways to backup your data.

Here are 5 reasons why tape backup isn’t the best backup solution. 

1. High Vulnerability to Corruption

Tape is extremely vulnerable to corruption and exposure. Tape is delicate and may become corrupted when exposed to fingerprints, dust, dirt, sunlight, humidity, or getting too close to a magnetized object. Once corrupted, your files become unusable, making restoring your data impossible (unless you have another backup method). Tapes' physical presence makes them more vulnerable as they can be destroyed by a multitude of factors.

2. Theft or Loss

Tape backups are often taken off-site as part of an organization's backup strategy, this makes it easier to get lost or stolen. Again, tapes' physical presence makes them more vulnerable to theft or loss as they are easier to access and remove. Many organizations fail to encrypt their data on tapes, this poses a risk as a thief or finder of the tapes now has access to all files on that tape. 

3. Issues with Continuity

Tape backup usually involves the movement of tapes to an off-site location by a staff member or third-party provider. This means the backup is often hours or days behind. When a disaster does occur and backup is needed it may cause issues with missing data and affect your RPO. Your RTO may also be affected in a disaster as it may take time to get your staff member or third-party provider to return your tape backups to your location and recover your data. These situations pose large problems for your business continuity.

4. Not Cost-Effective

Tape is rarely the most cost-effective backup regime. Tapes are quite expensive once you consider the time to manage a tape backup system, management time of restoring backups and testing, cost of the tapes, cost of the off-site storage and retrieval (even if done by your own staff you will need to calculate gas for driving to a storage location and secure facility), depreciation of the hardware, costs associated with powering the hardware, depreciation of software used, the cost of purchasing the hardware and software itself, and several more.


5. Relies Heavily on Human Interaction

Unfortunately, running a tape backup requires hands-on work. Other backup options allow for more automation, making your IT team's job easier and more efficient. With tape backups requiring so much human interaction, it opens your organization up to more opportunities for human error and is extremely time-consuming for your staff. The time your IT staff save by moving to a more time-efficient method can be used for other tasks that further the organization's goals and contribute to innovation. 


Using tape as a primary backup is risky. The inefficiency and vulnerability of tape backup remove it from the running of effective modern backup strategies. The cloud provides a more reliable, cost-effective, and efficient backup model. Many however still prefer to use a ‘hybrid approach’, utilizing several backup methods. To find out more about cloud backup solutions and how Cloud Carib can help contact us today.

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