The Expensive Truth About “Inexpensive” Tape Backup

If you’re trying to get your managed service customers away from tape backup and on to something more reliable, this article will help. After hearing stories

August 9, 2012

4 Min Read
The Expensive Truth About “Inexpensive” Tape Backup

By Axcient Guest Blog 2


If you’re trying to get your managed service customers away from tape backup and on to something more reliable, this article will help. After hearing stories of frustration with tape from several small business, I started some research and number crunching to find out what it really costs the average SMB to manage what was once considered an “inexpensive” method of tape backup and recovery. The high costs I came up with may surprise you.

To see how much is wasted on tape management, consider the daily life of the average SMB IT technician. He or she manually backs up to tape each day, then moves each day’s backup to an offsite location in case of an emergency like a theft, fire, or natural disaster.

$16,000+/Year When All is Well

Keep these numbers in mind: the average 2012 U.S. mileage rate is $0.55 cents per mile, the average IT technician makes $40 an hour, and a company’s offsite tape storage location should be at least 46 miles away from its office. If it takes your IT technician one hour to reach your tape offsite storage location and they travel there once a day, every day, you’re paying $65.30 a day. Multiply that number by 250 (the number of working days in a year) and your company is spending an additional $16,325 a year on tape offsiting alone.

If you think you can avoid this cost by having a service offsite your tapes for you, you might be in for a shock. Some offsite companies can charge as much as $200 an hour. That’s $25,000 a year just for someone to offsite your tapes once per day – not to mention the risk of possible security breaches and additional downtime waiting for someone who is not invested in your company’s success to retrieve the tapes. If you simply reduce your offsiting to once a week, then you’re leaving your business vulnerable to greater loss of data and downtime when a server fails or other emergency hits. And if you think your company can survive downtime, you might want to read the blog “How Much Downtime Can Your SMB Afford” or a white paper on the costs and return on investment of business continuity.

Plus $47,800 Each Time Something Goes Wrong

But what about the costs when everything goes wrong? I had one of those “everything goes wrong” days last Monday, coming home from a family vacation: multiple flight issues that left me stuck in an airport seven hours after my flight was scheduled to leave, and my credit card number was stolen, resulting in unauthorized charges from someone’s  shopping spree in Dubai. Luckily for me, wasted time at an airport doesn’t result in a monetary loss and the nearly $1,500 spent in Dubai was rightfully returned. My losses were minimal. That’s not the case for a business that has a bad day with its tape backup.

Picture this:  You’re the head IT technician at a law firm that’s about to start working a high-profile case. A partner and her team of associates and paralegals at your firm have worked for several weeks to pull together the evidence, research and arguments they need. Then the firm’s main server fails and you’re expected to restore all the files immediately.

You hit bumper to bumper traffic on the drive to the offsite location and it takes more than an hour to reach your exit. Upon arriving at your storage facility, you discover that one of the cooling appliances burned out and it’s been an especially hot day. As a result, you spend the next hour collecting the damaged tapes to inspect back at the office. It’s way past the end of the work day when you finally make it back only to discover that 25% of the files needed are unrecoverable because of the damaged tape.

In those six hours of downtime spent traveling to get the tape and retrieve and restore the files, your company lost at least $12,600 in billable time in one day. Recreating the unrecoverable/lost files would take an additional four days, or at least $47,800 in billable time.

And unlike those fraudulent purchases on my credit card, your law firm will never see that $47,800 back in its bank account because the reality is that “inexpensive” tape is now an ironic way to describe something that can be cheap to purchase, but will empty your wallet in the end.


View a case study or contact us to learn more about Axcient, a cloud-based continuity service for MSPs that can save your end users from the costs, hassle, and unreliability of tape backup.


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