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Tape Data Recovery Tips

Prevention is better than cure!

We can provide preventative consultancy tailored to your business, to ensure you take all possible steps to avoid data loss.

Here are some general tips for good practice:

Use more than one drive
Reading your tapes back by using a drive other than the one that performed the backup, will alert you to problems that are developing with your drives. Tracking problems and head failures that are not critical but will soon be so, will be identified by the failure of another drive to read from your tape.

Make sure that it works
Always make a compare operation part of your backup routine and take the time to restore from your tapes to ensure that you will be able to when the need arises. If data is really 'mission critical' then why not make sure that each backup has worked?

Write protect your tapes
A story that we often hear at Vogon is that a tape was placed in a drive so that some data could be restored, and then a timed backup started. Since the tape had not been write protected, the recording was lost.

Read your backup logs
It is surprising how few people actually read the logs from their backups. We often see patterns emerging when we read the recovered logs from a tape. Sometimes it is as obvious as error messages reporting that files are unreadable or not backed up. Other times we have seen that the backup process has been taking an increasingly long time even though the volume of data has not increased. This is a sure sign of a drive beginning to fail.

Look for any change from that which is normal.

Use more than one tape
This might seem obvious, but our experience shows that a small saving on tapes that cost a few pounds is often made at the expense of data worth thousands.

Many times we have been told that the hard disk crashed during the backup and that it was the previous backup that was being over-written at the time.

Use plenty of tapes
The more copies you have of your data the less likely you are to lose it.

Keep off-site backups
You need to be able to get up and running again if your building is damaged by fire or emptied by thieves. If your backup was burned or stolen, what would you do?

Keep abreast of technology
We often receive tapes that have been written to using drives that were common during the late 1980s and early part of the '90s, but which are no longer available. Apart from the fact that the drive is more than likely making a sub-standard recording, if the drive fails you will not be able to replace it with one that can read from your tapes.

Keep up with technology, let others take the lead and find the problems with the newest equipment, but don't be left too far behind.

Remember – Any piece of hardware will eventually fail and you cannot be certain whether it will be tomorrow or in five years time. The difference between a crisis and an inconvenience is your ability to cope when it does.

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