Transition Away from Tape Backup for Home and Small Business Computer Owners.

Tapes have been the primary backup media for digital data for over 40 years. Over the years, tape drives and tape media technology has improved rapidly and dramatically. Tape backup is still the best choice for many applications because large amounts of data can be stored on portable media. However, using tape technology for backup does require a certain amount of diligence and care in order to ensure the recover-ability of data.

Several years ago, home and small business computer owners starting using other technology such as Zip disks, Cd's, and now portable disk media. These backup technologies are generally easier to manage and use than tapes, making them more appealing for users who do not have overwhelming amounts of data and IT professionals to manage it. While these media types are easier to deal with than tapes, they do require some level of diligence to maintain reliable backups.

The most recent trend has been towards online backup services. These services copy your data to a secure storage server on the Internet. The primary reason why these services have become popular is the increasing availability of bandwidth. There are some significant advantages to online backup:

1) No tape drives, tapes or other backup media or devices are required. This may be a bigger cost savings than some people realize. The backup devices and media become obsolete quickly. Tapes have to be stored properly and they do wear out, and need replacement.

2) No software needs to be purchased. Most online backup services provide the software for free as long as you subscribe to the service. While there is a monthly fee, there is no upfront purchase and ongoing maintenance costs for the software.

3) Software maintenance is handled by the service provider. Any software updates that are required are usually provided by the service provider. Some service providers, such as Rhinoback, automatically keep your software current as part of the backup schedule, relieving you of any effort to maintain the software beyond the initial installation.

4) Backups files are cataloged. The more robust and expensive software backup solutions maintain a catalog of all files backed up and the media that contains them. However, the catalog itself is usually lost in the event that your hardware fails. IT professionals handle this by backing up the catalog and maintaining printed reports of some backup catalog data. Most online backup services automatically catalog your backup files and the catalog will not be lost if your hardware fails or is lost.

5) Backup files are maintained off-site. Most home, and few business, computer owners maintain a regular set of off-site backups. Online backup services maintain your data off-site with no extra effort or expense.

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