Gmail: Google Uses Tape Drives For Backups

gmail logoGmail screwed up yesterday due to a bug from a software update:

Imagine the sinking feeling of logging in to your Gmail account and finding it empty. That’s what happened to 0.02% of Gmail users yesterday, and we’re very sorry.

There are about 170 million Gmail users. 0.02% of 170 million is 34,000.

They’re in the process of restoring all lost email, but what surprised me is they use tape backups.

Tape backup technology has been around since the 1950s. It’s used by every major corporation – it’s the final backup solution – backups of backups resort to tapes in the end, despite their failure rate.

I use an external hard-drive, but tape drives are cheaper (in the long run).

Update: Some resources on how to backup gmail:
Back Up Your Gmail the Easy Way (or the Cheap Way)
How to Backup Your Gmail Account
Backing up your mail with POP (from Google)
– Or just google “backup gmail

4 Replies to “Gmail: Google Uses Tape Drives For Backups”

  1. The reason large companies with good backup plans use tape is, as Google said, they are OFFLINE.

    By relying just on hard drives, the risk of viruses or bugs spreading increases. Think of it terms of a hot swappable RAID setup. Even though the data is there, it could well be corrupted, and replicated on all disks.

    The offline solution still makes sense.

    • They’re not always offline. They have to be online at some point in order for the backup itself to take place; once that’s done then they’re taken offline (and often offsite).

      I’m not arguing against tape; I’m just surprised they’re still widely used.

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