Magnetic tape backup and restoration: Questions that could help you
Storing data for long periods of time is still a requirement for many companies. Many people don’t realise that the tape is still a major player in the storage market, due to its cost, quantity of data that can be stored and the period of time that data can be stored for.
In comparison to HDDs, SSDs or even the Cloud, the tape is far superior when it comes to long-term archiving. But, if you’re new to tape or need some more information on the use of tape for storage then the below information should help. If your question or situation still hasn’t been answered, then get in contact with one of our tape experts here.
In order for you to work out whether the tape is a good choice for your storage needs, or if you are unsure as to how Ontrack may be able to help you in regards to tape, below are some popular scenarios and questions that we have faced over the years.
I have a number of tapes containing archived data. I need to access it, but I can’t find the hardware/backup software to restore them.
If you find yourself in this position, then your first port of call would be to try and get a copy of the backup software by contacting a software vendor or distributor online. Although in many cases, you may find yourself in the position where the software you need is no longer sold. If this is the case, then your best bet would be to contact a data recovery specialist. Companies like Ontrack have specific tools and hardware that allow them to recover data from tapes without the need for the old backup software.
I need a particular file that is stored on one of the tapes I have. How can I find out which tape holds this file?
Dependent on the software and tape library system you are using, you may be able to – as the tape library administrator – use a code command to track down the specific file. To be able to do this though, you must know the exact name of the file you are looking for. Even if you do know the exact name, there still may be a chance that you retrieve the wrong copy of the file, as with any advanced backup there are several copies of the same single file. To avoid this, a simple solution would be to create an index and catalogue of all the tape media. This would save time and be cost-effective.
It looks like the data on my tapes has been erased or deleted by accident. Is there any way I can get it back?
This is not something that you will be able to do by yourself. Being able to recover any type of data, from any type of media should only be done by a professional data recovery expert. Many recoveries that are carried out in the hands of someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing, can result in irreversible damage and even more data loss. Recovering from tape is one of the most advanced types of data recovery; special tools, hardware and a great deal of knowledge of the way data is structured and saved are needed to perform a tape recovery.
I have a number of tapes in different formats. How can I standardise them?
Migrating your tapes so they are all on one platform is a good idea. Not because the platforms may not be good enough, but the majority of the platforms once introduced are long gone. If the hardware for those tapes no longer exists, problems can occur when data on those tapes need to be accessed. Being able to access the data on your tapes is vital, especially if they hold any sensitive information. There are still a number of tape and backup storage system formats available to the market. Choosing the one that works for your company’s needs is the best way to go as there is no real ‘best type.’ If you are thinking about migrating all of your tape data to one consolidated platform, experts like Ontrack can help you prior to the process, and advise you on any risks associated with the migration.
I’ve tried to access the data on my company’s tapes but they are saying they are blank!
If you are experiencing this problem, then your best bet would be to contact a data recovery specialist like Ontrack. Specialised hardware can be used to bypass the problem and recover the data, but this should only be done by a professional.
The tape reader I have is no longer working. How can I access the data I have archived?
Unfortunately, without the tape reader, you have no way of being able to access that data you have archived. If you find yourself in this situation, clean your tape drive; they were engineered for heavy duty work and durability, so with some luck, it may start to work again. If this fails to work, either look into buying a new or used drive of the same brand and model or bring the device to a specialist like Ontrack.
For more information on Ontrack’s services, please visit the Ontrack website here.