For one U.S. federal court division, backing up its data with tape was a nightmare. It would take eight hours to run a backup of all its data — including e-mail, audio and video — to a tape library.

The team decided to install a disk-based backup appliance with deduplication, a technology that shrinks the amount of physical disk space needed by only copying the data that changes.

Soon, the court’s IT staff reduced the time needed to perform a full backup to just 90 minutes. In addition, the disk system is scalable, so they can add new nodes to increase capacity, eliminating the “rip-and-replace” cycle required of its former tape infrastructure.

Backup and recovery seems daunting to many government agencies. For decades, they’ve relied on aging magnetic tape libraries to secure their data. With data volumes exploding, and regulatory requirements to back up and archive virtually everything, agencies are under pressure to use more reliable technology.

Here are six reasons why government organizations should modernize their backup resources by relying less on tape, and more on disk.

•    Disk is faster than tape for backups and restores: As in the example above, disk is up to 90 percent faster than tape, and restores can be done in just minutes.

•    Tape is obsolete: Your last line of defense against a catastrophic, unrecoverable loss of data is a 60-year-old medium which has been replaced just about everywhere in the datacenter.

•    Tape is brittle: Tapes can be damaged by wear and tear, heat or humidity. They can also get stuck in a tape reader, or damaged by magnetic signals. Disk doesn’t wear down this way.

•    Security risk: Tapes can get lost or stolen while being transported in a vehicle.

•    Downtime is costly: Following a data protection incident, it costs organizations an average of $70,000 per downtime hour and roughly seven hours to resume normal operations, according to IDC.

•    Tape labeling is error-prone: Tapes can be mislabeled or labels fall off.

Tape may be cheaper up front, but long term, failure to modernize means much higher costs in potentially compromised data and expanding backup windows, which can be crippling to your organization.

Marc Crespi is vice president of product management for ExaGrid Systems. The firm offers scalable disk backup with deduplication systems that change how organizations back up and protect their data.

Here is a short overview of ExaGrid's disk backup with deduplication setup.