Do 71% of Tape Restores Really Fail?

Internet articles dating back to 2006 cite a supposed statistic from Gartner which states that 71% of all tape restores fail.  However, every reference lacks proper citation beyond a vague Gartner reference, which led one fact-checker on a journey to find the source of the errant tape storage stat.

 

MythBuster: Did Gartner Ever Say that 71% of Tape Restores Fail?

Curtis Preston, the author of Backup Central, noted how often the Gartner statistic was mentioned without any specific citation or article reference. Preston set out to find the root of this tape statistic that appeared to lack a citation greater than, “Gartner said it.”

In his March 2012 article, Preston asked Dave Russell of Gartner to help him find the instance where Gartner had stated the high rate of tape restores failures. He couldn’t.

In fact, Russell searched the entire Gartner archive and couldn’t find a single instance where Gartner stated that 71% of tape restores fail. The only way Russell could find any reference of the statistic was to Google it, where it seemed to be quoted endlessly without a reference.

The Actual Tape Restore Story

Both hardware and software improvements to tape storage have helped improve data integrity and data access. Improved tape library robotics and more advanced software features like data verification and data health checkups can provide a more reliable and dependable experience.

Although tape restores have been known to fail, failures can be attributed to a variety of sources that do not involved tape. Human error and careless processing can be just as damaging to tape restores as the tape technology itself. While an accurate percentage of tape restore failures remains a mystery, failure statistics cited on the Internet vary widely and can range from 10% up through 71%.

Whether or not you choose to deploy a tape strategy in your SAN storage environment, make sure your decision isn’t made on myths or statistics that are assumed to be true. Your tape or disk backup solution should be decided by the storage needs of your specific environment.


Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary, Flickr. CC License.


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