Backing up is hard to doin this day and age

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This article appeared in the 24th November 2008 issue of CRN magazine.

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Backing up is hard to doin this day and age
You’ve just gotta love standards. There’s so many of them to choose from.

And it’s so easy to blame the one you didn’t choose when the customer is standing at the shop counter with steam hissing out of each ear and foam bubbling from their mouth.

Really, is it our fault that Toshiba dropped out of the high definition video player wars? We don’t have a crystal ball here at Rabid Resellers and we sold those HD-DVD drives in good faith at a good price.

Well, yeah, they were at a very good price, since the nephew rescued them from the local landfill, but since we were never a Toshiba reseller, we didn’t see any bulletins about their withdrawal.

We just thought somebody made a mistake and took the wrong carton to the tip. Anyway, they still do a fine job with ordinary DVDs, and until they break they’re still fine with HD-DVDs – 25GB of backup isn’t to be sneezed at.

We do admit it’s getting hard to find blanks, but hey, you pays your money and makes your choice etc. And even if there are no more blanks they’re still way better than the eight-track recorders the nephew converted into a tape backup system for a high school project.

The less said about that little adventure the better. Let’s just say that using a tape system that works on the meobius strip principle of an endless loop isn’t such a good idea. But then again, you never run out of tape either.

We’ve had lots of dramas over the years with all the changing standards in tape formats too, which is what prompted the nephew to try the eight-track thing in the first place. We tried to standardise on tape backups using the video-8 format, mainly because we could get the tapes as a tax deduction and still use them in the camera on the weekends. But that plan turned to spaghetti when we restored a crashed server and turned the thing into a media centre PC, which then played endless video of a dinner party at Uncle Tony’s favourite eatery.

We switched to DAT tapes, since they didn’t fit the video camera, and everything was OK for a while, until the nephew formed an electro-punk band with his mates. Several garage sessions later, they’d decided it was time to make a demo tape, and of course, the recorder they hired used DAT, which after all, as he reminded us, does stand for Digital Audio Tape. They didn’t get a recording contract, but the next server restore mercifully had no bad video, but instead an endless cacophony of thrash-punk with layered synthesisers blared out every time new mail arrived.

We tried unsuccessfully to switch to AIT and DLT tapes, but they don’t fit into anything you can use elsewhere so nobody was interested.

It seems it’s not just us who likes to take blank tapes out of the office for extra-curricular activities. And at our end of the market, LTO tape isn’t getting any traction at all. Which end of the market? We’ll let you guess. Which is why we were attracted to the HD-DVD option. And of course, we’ve since switched to the Blu-ray format, but it’s taking some time to develop the market.

We blame the electronics companies. Until they get a Blu-ray burner into the home theatre market for less than $500 we’re not going to sell many of them for backup devices.

But once customers discover they can use the blanks at home after hours and on weekends, we’re expecting boom times. It’s called return on investment and our customers sure know how to spell that.

Gotta go!

Backup starting!
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