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I'm not kidding. I've had more than my share of hard drive failures but never one in a notebook or on a trip. Most hard drive failures occur due to power supply and cooling issues. Both are controlled inside a notebook. Furthermore, notebook hard drives are developed to withstand extreme conditions.

 

Tapes and tape drives, on the other hand, are delicate. You may be able to fix a tape cassette in the field but you will never be able to glue the particles back on or iron out the creases. Dropouts and footage loss occur often and whole cassettes can be lost. A drop that a hard drive is designed to survive could well kill a tape mechanism. Sometimes a tape recorded in one mechanism won't play in another. Some system to bank on... :) Now, of course you don't fix a hard drive in the field, you carry a duplicate. You wish you had tape duplicate in the field so that you don't worry where your lost sections will be when you go to repair the damage... Duplicating a hard drive is easy. Duplicating tapes in the field isn't.

 

Then there's the fundamental design of a system consisting of a whole lot of tapes, a tape drive, and something else for redundancy. Compare that to two hard drives. It's an trivial matter that the two drive solution is more reliable as well as more available. I suppose if you ignore the redundancy issue and stick your head in the sand that you may be happy with tape especially if you make up some facts about hard drives being more delicate than tape.

 

Are you suggesting that I'm keeping my critical data solely on a 1G iPod like you are keeping your citical business footage on a single, 10 year old, well used tape? You realize that the 1G iPod lacks good cooling, it has shock and vibe issues, and contains a drive not typical of today's notebook drives, right? You understand the 1G iPod lasts as long as the life of a regularly-used source tape; that a 1G iPod is not indicative of good engineering? BTW, my 1G iPod worked fine until the battery failed.

 

With a solid state solution, you can perform an automatic backup on import. Many photographers do this and the capability is built into import software. Having this a part of the workflow renders all these hard drive rantings moot. It's not about the failure of a component, it's about a strategy that doesn't lose data.

 

One thing I find amusing is that tape systems used to back up critical computer data have, as part of the process, regular verification. The reason for that is that backup tapes regularly fail to read correctly and sometimes system restores can't work at all. Tape always was, and always will be, crap compared to hard drive storage. It was and is a necessary evil in applications where adequate capacity can't be obtained any other way. As soon as you can do the job practically without tape, it's time to ditch it.

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Interesting debate fellas. The issue is whether Tape or Hard Drive is a more reliable solution for data back-up. This issue has been dealt with in the IT industry for years. I thought I might some industry findings to the mix:

 

... A Yankee Group and Sunbelt Software survey of 362 IT executives in March

2004 found 42 percent of respondents had been unable to recover data from

tape in the last year as a result of tape unreliability.

 

...a study done by Carnegie Mellon University... compared the failure rates of many SCSI, FC and SATA drives, determined that the failure rate for most drivers was between 2% and 4%.

 

...Storage Magazine (storagemagazine.techtarget.com) surveyed its readers . . . to determine how often unreliable tapes were at the heart of a backup snafu. When asked to describe the tape failure situation in their shops, nearly a third of the respondents (31.2%) said it was either a significant problem that often disrupts backups or a problem that sometimes disrupts backups.”

 

...According to Microsoft, 42% of attempted recoveries from tape backups in the past year have failed. In addition, Ben Matheson, group product manager for Microsoft Data Protection Manager, told me, "More than 50 percent of customers we've surveyed said their current backup solutions do not fill their needs."

 

..."Restoring from tape fails 50% of the time in distributed organizations and mid-sized companies." – Baroudi Bloor (www.hurwitz.com) (now Hurwitz and Associates)

 

..."Over 34% of companies do not test their backups and of those that tested, 77% found their tape backups failed to restore." – Storage Magazine (storagemagazine.techtarget.com)

 

...A survey by the Yankee Group and Sunbelt Software found that 40% of IT managers had been unable to recover data from a tape when they needed it.

 

etc.

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...a study done by Carnegie Mellon University... compared the failure rates of many SCSI, FC and SATA drives, determined that the failure rate for most drives was between 2% and 4%.

Is that figure is per year?

 

The interesting thing is that hard drive systems used for backup can, and will, use redundant disks so drive failure rates don't dictate the availability of the backup. It is more difficult to do the same with tape.

 

The issue is whether Tape or Hard Drive is a more reliable solution for data back-up.

Yes, and in the context of how much data you have to back up. The backup requirements we have on location are small.

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Yes, and in the context of how much data you have to back up. The backup requirements we have on location are small.

 

Craig I think we have discussed this a couple of times and I am in the hard drive corner :) With the costs of small portable drives being so low (especially in light of the costs of diving and video/photo equipment being so high) I usually carry at least two externals on a trip, usually with a bootable section also if needed. With 250 Gig hard drives readily available for $90 and 500 Gig for $150 (of course with variations on performance and type of drives) I know I am happier having them around. Over the years I have had some hard drives fail, but not many, very little in fact. Have had more enclosures have issues (loose/bad ports) than drives.

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Whatever technology I employ, I start from the premise that it will fail, and that I will need a backup. Whether camera, housing, cards, hdd. My slide collection.. well I have scans of some of it....

My life is a lot more relaxed since I sat down and thought about DAM and worked through to a manageable solution.

Now failures are annoying, not a catastrophe.

And remember it's not just the drives that fail... my latest problem was a chipset failure on an external RAID 1 Box.

As I use RAID for data security not speed, not the end of the world, I just put one of the drives into an external case and bingo... copied the data onto the new RAID Box.

 

BTW...I don't have any data on drives that can not be fired up periodically. I know some folks who archive bare drives onto a shelf and after lengthy periods unused some have failed to start spinning. Anyone else had this experience?

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I've had old drives fail to spin up after sitting. Some RAID controllers spin down hot standby drives but spin them up periodically to guard against that very thing.

 

I used to do server storage controllers; in that life I saw about every disk failure imaginable. Some of which we caused ourselves :)

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I'm an IT professional - I LOVE saying that :lol: Kind of like being an internationally renowned embezzler :D

 

At any rate... I trust no one technology.

My photo data is backed up to a mirrored set of hard drives using Apple's Time Machine, to another disk using Carbon Copy and to an LTO2 tape using Retrospect.

Once a month a tape goes to the bank safe deposit box and once a year a hard drive goes there too.

 

Call me paranoid but.... :)

Edited by hoovermd

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