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Small businesses looking to run a network data protection strategy will find that tape is still one of the best choices for backup. It offers an unbeatable combination of capacity, price and performance ideally suited to businesses looking to secure their servers and workstations to single device. These same businesses are also spoilt for choice as a wide range of manufacturers are vying for their attention with Sony very much at the head of the pack with its extensive range of AIT (advanced intelligent tape) products.
The latest StorStation AITi200, or AIT-2 Turbo, family targets small businesses looking for an affordable high-capacity, high-speed tape drive. At £747 for the internal model it certainly compares very well with the competition, but the AIT-2 Turbo also delivers an unbeatable capacity and performance. The compact cartridges have a native, or uncompressed, capacity of no less than 80GB while the drive delivers a speedy 12MB/sec native transfer rate. Sony’s ADLC (adaptive lossless data compression) technology is also more efficient and its top compression ratio of 2.6:1 allows maximum capacity to be stretched to 208GB. However, don’t be swayed by the latter feature as very little data can be compressed to this level.
Sony has made some modifications to the media to reduce storage costs even further. The standard 8mm cartridges offer a feature called MIC (memory in cartridge) which consists of a 64Kbit flash memory chip mounted internally and accessed via a five pin connector. The main function of MIC is to reduce the time spent searching for data as it stores information that is normally found on the first segments of the tape. MIC creates up to 64 partitions on the tape that can be accessed independently using address information stored in the chip and this allows the drive to estimate how far to fast-forward or rewind the tape. During loading, a small board springs up and makes contact with the five pins on the back of the cartridge allowing the drive to access the internal memory chip. This is an automatic function of the drive and there is no control of this feature extended to the backup software. In practice we’ve never seen MIC deliver any significant improvements over competing tape formats and you can now purchase lower cost media that doesn’t have the MIC chip. These tapes cost around £27 each as opposed to £33 for the MIC version.
The standard cartridges have the MIC chip removed to reduce storage costs.