Introduction

Tape is always likely to play a role in any storage management policy, because it's cheap and robust. Dave Mitchell takes a look at eight of the latest drives and sorts the wheat from the chaff

Backup is a critical part of a business data protection plan and although the past couple of years have seen a concerted move towards disk-to-disk (D2D) backup, tape will always play an essential role in any strategy.

Overall storage costs for tape are unbeatable and it's still the best choice for off-site storage as it is designed to be portable. Furthermore, the data cartridges have higher environmental tolerances making them a far safer choice for storing in a remote location.

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In this group test we take a look at the latest and greatest in the SMB and mid-range tape backup market and bring you a round-up of the top eight tape drives. The format wars continue unabated - since the incredibly popular DDS format was canned by Sony, Seagate and HP back in 2001 there has been a concerted effort by most vendors to grab some of the massive market share it had at the time. So at the lower end of the market we have DAT72, AIT-2 Turbo and VXA plus Quantum's latest DLT-V4 formats on test.

The battle for the mid-range backup market looks just as interesting as LTO (linear tape open) and SDLT (Super DLT) slug it out for a piece of the action and we test LTO-2, LTO-3 and SDLT600 drives. Sandwiched in between we have Sony's latest SDX-3X format which aims to solve the compatibility issues surrounding AIT-4.

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It's clear there is a wide range of formats to choose from at all levels of the tape backup market and no two companies will have the same requirements. Consequently, we've selected a wide range of drives that offer different combinations of speed, capacity and price to help you pick the right one for your backup requirements.

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