Is tape dead?

Alexander Schreiber als at
Thu Sep 24 17:18:33 CDT 2015

On Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 11:36:57AM -0700, Chuck Guzis wrote:
> On 09/15/2015 10:49 AM, Mouse wrote:
> >If the police needed to even _consider_ doing that, they need to fire
> >whoever decided they didn't need proper backups.  (And whoever was
> >responsible for the mistake that got it running there to begin with,
> >either whoever decided to let it run or whoever decided to use tools
> >that would let it run, depending.)
> I think a more important issue in backing up is "How many
> GENERATIONS to you keep around?"  If you're just overwriting last
> month's backup, you could be propagating the effects of a malware or
> just plain error with no means of retrieval.

Yeah, that is one of the canonical mistakes. I've seen tape backup
setups that had _the_ backup tape, which was overwritten for every
backup run. They might as well not have bothered ...

> My backups are currently done by connecting an external drive to a
> system, and booting with a live CD. Important stuff is also
> duplicated on several different machines--and when new technology
> obsoletes the old, carry the content forward on the newer medium.
> I back up my original work or valuable reference sources.  No
> pictures or movies.  When you consider how much *original* work
> anyone does during a lifetime, it's surprisingly little.

Well, the backup for the digital camera archive currently _fills_ two
LTO3 tapes (with the wife and me both keeping DSLRs busy, that is not
a surprise).
> Maybe that's changed today.  I remember seeing a figure of 11
> debugged lines of code per day per programmer as the average for a
> GSA programmer back in the 1980s.
> ---------------
> Related to the subject of backup devices, I've been seeing
> stupid-low prices on SSD using MLC flash.  How reliable are these
> things?  I'm still of the spinning rust persuasion, right now.

Don't trust flash for backups. With rotating rust, backups to cold
storage (i.e. connect drive, write data, disconnect, store it) works
pretty well. With flash ... well. The deeper one digs into how flash
storage is done these days, the less one tends to trust it. Do you
really trust what is effectively down to a handful of electrons trapped
in a tiny cell with a very thin insulator hanging around forever?
Yeah, me neither. There is a reason my workstation has a hybrid RAID1
for the rootfs: spinning rust + flash drive, with the spinning rust
set to 'write mostly'. Gets me the speed of flash and the more proven
long term stability of spinning rust.

Kind regards,
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and
 looks like work."                                      -- Thomas A. Edison

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