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Archival Storage Costs: Tape vs. Disk

Of all issues concerning executives responsible for their organization's data center, perhaps the most critical is operating costs. The power consumed by high capacity data centers can be astronomical, with electric bills to match. Energy prices continue to ratchet up year after year, making efforts to reduce power consumption all the more important.

One energy-saving initiative that can bring significant gains is sending archival information to data tapes for storage, rather than keep it on spinning disks within the data center. A recent article (click here for the full article) on this topic gives some very illuminating details about the operational cost savings that can be found by sending archival data to magnetic tapes. To summarize the article, for a 105 TB archiving system the equipment acquisition costs of a disk-base system is more than twice the cost ($79,000 vs. $194,000) of a tape-based system. Even more eye-opening is this statistic: the power consumption of a disk archive is more than SEVEN TIMES that of a tape archive — $7,500 vs. $52,000 over a five year period! This factors in the energy required to operate the disk archive equipment and the cooling costs for this equipment. For larger operations, the savings increase in proportion to the volume of archival data in storage.

This significant reduction in power consumption can be included in an organization's "Green" initiatives, since the decrease in carbon footprint can be calculated based on this improvement. That way the cost savings can also be used for positive public relations activities.

Another major consideration is the security of the archival data. Whenever information is maintained on a live platform there is always the risk that the data can be compromised. It can be breached by hackers, corrupted by a virus or other attack that results in loss of the archival data. By keeping this information off-line on data tapes this threat is eliminated. To keep the backup media safe it is best to have it stored offsite at a secure, climate controlled service provider's facility. There is a nationwide network of offsite storage service providers who protect their clients' information assets with FIRELOCK vaults. Click here to find the network member nearest you.

Storing archival information on magnetic media has the advantage to easily physically transport the archive wherever it needs to go, or make multiple copies in accordance with your disaster recovery plans. Storing data on electronic equipment adds to the complexity of transporting large volumes of data sets. Magnetic media also has an excellent track record for reliability, which is a critical issue when information needs to be maintained for years and years.

With the tremendous cost savings and other benefits that can be achieved through storing archival data on magnetic media, almost any organization can benefit from this practice. Protecting this information in a secure storage environment, such as an offsite storage firm with a data-rated vault, is an important element in an economical and efficient data storage program.

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