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Retrospect Mac + archive on VXA tape

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  • Retrospect Mac + archive on VXA tape

    I would like to get feedback on how reliable this archival method is, any possibilities of getting corrupted tapes, catalogs and so on. I've used Retrospect back in the mid 90's but not enough to remember the pros and cons. Right now, we're archiving on DVDs and I've been asked to propose other (not too expensive) reliable alternatives. The Retrospect Mac + firewire VXA tape option, while not being the fastest way to archive-retrieve data, seems to be a more organized way to do the job (no data redundancy, less media to handle, scheduled archivals and so on). The thing is, instead of loosing 4gig on a bad or lost DVD, I would loose between 80 and 160 gig in case or corrupted tape or catalog, that's why I'm asking. Thanks for your help.
    Better train people and risk they leave - than do nothing and risk they stay.

  • #2
    Re: Retrospect Mac + archive on VXA tape

    Any good backup scheme will be inherently redundant. So loosing a tape shouldn't be a catastrophe because you'd have a duplicate with which to work with. And if the catalog is corrupted you can rebuild it from the tapes. Of course catalogs can be backed up quite easily as native documents on DVD or CD. The software/hardware choices are good. I personally would suggest LTO-2 or LTO-3 for tape. But Retrospect and VXA are fine. Plus with being a FW drive you have a portable backup system if the main backup server/station dies for whatever reason.
    Matt Beals
    The views expressed here are my own personal views and are not those of my employer.

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    • #3
      Re: Retrospect Mac + archive on VXA tape

      Thanks Matt, I appreciate your feedback.
      Better train people and risk they leave - than do nothing and risk they stay.

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      • #4
        Re: Retrospect Mac + archive on VXA tape

        I don't trust tape anymore.

        We'll be moving to Blu-ray from DVD for archiving.
        Blu-ray 2X writers are about the same or less than a VXA-320 drive.
        Blu-ray 2X write speed is 9 MB/sec, while VXA uncompressed is 12 MB/sec.
        Soon to come Blu-ray 4X will be 18MB/sec.
        Blu-ray media is 25 GB and 50 GB, 100 GB is planned.

        Be careful about quoted capacities using HW compression on tape drives, those figures assume easily compressed office data, not big images. When I used DDS-2 I always ran into issues where the tape filled up before the compressed capacity was reached when using prepress data.

        Using Retrospect means you are locked into using that software and only that software to access your data. When I last used tape, I used "tar" on UNIX so I could move the tapes and drives to any UNIX host and get at the data. You will want to make backups of your Retrospect catalogs, I did have problems with that when I used Retrospect.

        Tape is very slow to restore data off of the middle to end of the tape.

        Tape is magnetic so it can be erased from random electro-magnetic fields - like a CRT monitor or a CPU power supply. It also loses magnetism over time and should be refreshed on a schedule.

        Tape is much easier to physically damage than optical media. Old tapes have a problem where the magnetic layer sticks to the backside of the polyester carrier, ruining any chance of getting your data.

        My 2 cents,

        Chasd.

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        • #5
          Re: Retrospect Mac + archive on VXA tape

          I am not a big Retrospect fan because of it's limit on catalog to 2 TB. They were supposed to uncap this years (about 7) ago. If you have any amount of daily work, 2 TB can be reached in a month or 2. This means you need all sorts of catalogs, unlike Veritas has no limit (at least I have never reached it)

          To me retrospect is great for small stuff and light workloads. For a long lasting solution, a product like Veritas works best in a high volume environment. I also like the dvd juke boxes, A blu-ray juke box would be ideal, maybe one with 2 writers and 25-100 disc capacity.

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