Common problems with onsite data backup

Many companies are still using traditional backup methods which can cause issues and be ineffective in comparison to online data backup solutions. We look at common issues come with traditional onsite backup.

Traditional backup

Current backup methods (i.e. taking a copy of data outside of the system it resides on) involve the transfer of data to storage media, mostly tape which suffers certain problems. Most businesses know of tape backup of computer data and it is the most common method of data backup today.

Manual backups

Data Backup using tape technology requires a commitment to a media rotation and replacement plan – neither simple nor quick. Inserting tapes, rotating tapes, labelling tapes, storing or off-siting tapes, finding tapes for recovery purposes all rely on manual processes which introduces errors. Invariably someone needs to be given the job of managing the system – easy in a large company perhaps but still the job is mundane. But in a smaller company, there are no obvious choices of person. So often it is given to the office admin or MD to do – neither of who are motivated nor qualified. Perhaps they manage to replace the tape on a daily basis – but when it comes to restoring a critical lost file, it is usually chaos and panic.

Data backups are ineffective

Data Backups may have been carried out, but they may not have worked successfully or may not have completed and rarely does anybody check whether the backup has been successful until it’s too late, e.g. when a real disaster has occurred.

Full backups

Due to the nature of tape backups full backups need to be carried out once a week, which means long backup windows and large backup volumes.

Restores are untested and slow

Most tape backups suffer from poor restore speeds, recovery process which are rarely tested and without any restore SLA in place.

Business risk

Tapes are often stored in the same site as the original data – so easily damaged in the flood, fire, etc.


In order to accommodate the ever increasing data volumes, existing backup systems and tape libraries need to be expanded which is costly, backup windows may run into the business day which impacts on system availability and the recovery time objective (i.e. the time it takes to restore all data) cannot be met.


Tapes can become old, unreadable, break, crack or be lost.


Without an unlimited supply of tapes, tape rotation is required. Tapes and tape readers need to be cleaned and maintained.


Technology advances mean that the system used to backup you data could easily be lost in the event of theft, disaster, etc. Thus it needs to be replaced with a current system. The problem being that the new system is likely to be incompatible with the tapes that hold your vital data.

Costly protection for remote sites

Data backup for remote sites requires either extensive LAN / WAN usage or onsite staff and local backup servers and tape libraries.

Lack of data availability

When tapes are in the process of being off-sited they are unavailable for recovery, which means only data already off-sited can be made available, which means that an additional data loss of 24-36h is introduced.

High up front costs

All onsite tape backup systems and libraries incur high up front costs and fixed (over) capacity, which is only fully utilised at the end of it service life (usually 304 years).

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