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My question is very specifically about solid state drives, not regular hard drives. I would like to put in place a grandfather-father-son backup scheme, with the SSDs being used for the grandfather and father portions, and the yearly grandfather would be locked in a safe offsite for maybe 5-10 years. Can I expect that after this period of time the data would be preserved as well as it would be on a tape?

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Seriously? 10 years? Do you think the data will be relevant in 10 years? –  joeqwerty Jan 8 '11 at 23:03
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I know, it's a long time but I have been asked to recover data in that time frame before. Very, very rarely, but it's happened. –  user66131 Jan 8 '11 at 23:34
    
I was just recently asked to recover marketing data from 1992 for a comparative analysis. I may not have seen the point, but the folks paying my salary did. :) –  Cypher Jan 9 '11 at 0:25
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Financial data needs to be retained for 7 years + tax clearance. Tape is still king in financial. –  egorgry Jan 9 '11 at 0:29
    
I work in a financial type company, LTO5 FTW. –  Chris S Jan 9 '11 at 3:12

4 Answers 4

We regularly get queries from potential ARCserve customers about the possibilities of using Disk for Long term storage. The recommendation from our side is to always avoid disk.

Tape Backup is the tried and tested format for 2 reasons:

  • The ability to backup Large Amounts of Data.
  • Tested long term retention capabilities.
  • Very importantly, the ability to transport data away for long term safekeeping.

If you are keen on avoiding using Tape, then my recommendation would be to consider 'Cloud' for data Archival. You might be surprised because the Cloud is as new a backup location as SSD. But Cloud provides certain advantages over Disk(or even Tape) that are hard to ignore:

  • Data gets stored offsite. There is no need to send Tapes offsite every week.
  • You do not need to worry maintaining the quality of Backup Tapes and the environment they are stored.
  • The pay per use model offered by Cloud Vendors like Amazon.

We recommend customers use Disk for short term backups and quick restores and Tape/Cloud for long term storage. In cases of RTO & downtime considerations, we recommend mirrored WAN replicas for the production server(able to failover users automatically if required).

Anyone wanting to have a go at the exciting new Cloud functionality in CA ARCserve Backup r16 Beta:

http://www.arcserve.com/us/products/beta-center.aspx

As part of the ARCserve_Social effort to promote interactive backup conversations on the web.

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Can I expect that after [10 years] the data would be preserved as well [on an SSD as on] a tape?

No.

OK, so strictly speaking, I have no solid scientific evidence for that statement. But on the other hand, nobody has solid evidence for the opposite position either.

NVRAM has been thoroughly tested on its own. But modeling all failure cases for an integrated system, such as an SSD, is another matter.

Engineers have 4+ decades of experience with digital tape storage, and about 0.1 decade with SSDs. For this reason I would not consider SSDs for long-term archiving.

2 other things to consider:

  • Interface. 10 years from now you might have problems finding a SATA II interface to hook your SSD up to.
  • Blame game. Nobody gets fired for choosing LTO tape as backup media. But SSDs are 'novel' and would be 'your decision'.
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+1 We just upgraded to LTO5, really nice that it's partially backwards compatible (previous system was also LTO and the tapes are readable in the new drive, less old hardware taking up space/waiting to fail). –  Chris S Jan 9 '11 at 3:13
    
Interface - good point. And I bet that will apply to LTO tape drive with a SAS interface too. It's probably going to be ok though, you can still get SATA to IDE adapters. –  Matt May 15 '13 at 3:26

I think it is a bit early to tell if SSDs are any good at long-term vault storage.

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The problem with SSDs is that they don't suffer a LOT of bitrot(and its a little different), but enough to be of some concern. This solution would require some sort of regular checking of the disks, to ensure data integrity. SSD may not be the solution you're looking for if you need that data 100% intact in 5-10 years.

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