How to choose the best format

As with any technology, magnetic tape should be chosen based on an organization's functional requirements, not because it's the latest and greatest or the most popular.

Industry observers suggest that you start your search by determining what aspects of tape technology are most important to you: capacity, speed, reliability or cost. Two questions, however, need to be answered upfront:

* How much data do I need to back up?

* How much time do I have to back up that data?

The answers to those two questions—the capacity and throughput required—will help you narrow the list of potential technologies. From that point, you should then ask:

* What's the cost of the medium and how does it fit in my budget?

* What are the maintenance requirements?

* How reliable are the drives?

* Is the product evolving rapidly enough to meet my future requirements?

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