I'm still a fan of tape. I know it's "dying" but for capacity, longevity, and portability, it's pretty tough to beat. However, I have some clients and prospects that have a "hate-on" for tape and want to move to disk-to-disk backups. I've typically setup disk-to-disk-to-tape to give you that quick recovery time for "every day" restorations (like corrupt or deleted data), but the portability of tape that you can take with you off-site (and just as importantly, off-line) in case of disaster.

I've setup an e-SATA enclosure with a two-disk rotation for very small clients that couldn't afford a tape drive; I'm debating using this for a SAN-backed virtualization setup that still requires as per policy, an offline/off-site backup (even though they have a DRP "warm" location that's replicated via Veeam Backup software to an ESXi host across town), in particular the "off-line" bit to mitigate against tampering/malicious activity, etc.

I know Dell makes a disk-based backup drive that uses disk "tapes", but I'd prefer something that can be recognized as a storage device in Windows, Linux, etc. and mounted accordingly.

In my head, this unit would be small, lightweight (perhaps using 2.5 in drives), rugged (with a durable tray/sled for each drive), work with standard SATAII/III drives (or possibly SAS), with a corresponding external interface. Nice to have would be some redundancy (via RAID1 "pairs").

  • 3
    Tape isn't "dying" any more than it has been for the last 10+ years that I've been hearing "tape is dying". It's still too expensive for very small businesses, but it's the only solution for large quantities of data and long-term retention. Personally, I'd love to see if you get an acceptable answer to this question. I haven't found anything that fits the bill. RDX is vastly too expensive, per GB, and I don't trust consumer SATA disks in cheap USB / Firewire enclosures to stand up to long-term use. BTW: RDX, which is what I think you're referring to from Dell, is "seen" as a disk to Windows. May 25, 2011 at 18:39
  • Good to know re: RDX, did not know that. But yes, it is expensive.
    – gravyface
    May 25, 2011 at 18:53

3 Answers 3


Take a look at TapeSucks.com. I am using the 2 Bay Tandem AMT 1U rack mount system with 2TB drives. I take home one of the drives every night for backup. This does not solve keeping backups for archiving purposes, however this does solve our need for disaster recovery and deleted files for the last year.

  • Wow, that looks friggin' awesome.
    – gravyface
    May 25, 2011 at 19:56
  • Yeah, works really well for us. Not to mention fast! I always recommend. Plus they are manufactured right here in the USA.
    – xeon
    May 25, 2011 at 21:05
  • we're (hopefully) going to become a reseller. Thanks again.
    – gravyface
    May 27, 2011 at 19:29

If I'm reading what you're looking for right, you'd want something like this from Buffalo. It's a 4-drive external unit that has USB and e-SATA capability with RAID functionality. We use this in house at two of my sites, and I haven't had any problems with them. Standard YMMV disclaimer applies.

  • yes, I've seen that and similar units, but it's not really portable: there's no way I'd trust (or expect) the backup admin at an SMB to take that off-site every night.
    – gravyface
    May 25, 2011 at 18:59
  • How is it not portable? It's a self contained unit, that you connect via USB or e-SATA. You can disconnect it at anytime, and is mounted like a normal drive. May 25, 2011 at 19:02
  • Well, for starters, you'd need two to be able to rotate it each night; secondly, portable and durable go hand-in-hand: I wouldn't want to drop this, that's for sure.
    – gravyface
    May 25, 2011 at 19:12

This looks promising: no redundancy and 2.5" drives would be welcome, but this is certainly a step in the right direction, at least from a portability/physical durability perspective. And with a regular disk rotation/replacement policy (based on number of write-hours and/or elapsed time), I could see this functioning quite well:


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