Autoloader buying advice

Written by  //  July 27, 2015  //  Tech Reviews  //  Comments Off on Autoloader buying advice

Any business needs to back up data. From natural disasters to terrorist attacks, physical and cyber related, are all very real possibilities. If and when they do strike, the results can be disastrous. From the small business to a large global concern, the safe storage of data are never been more pressing that it is today.

There is much written on the best way to meet these demands that ensure safety and accessibility of data, and it seems that tape is still the favoured option.

And there are many options for storage of data, from tape devices to a selection of autoloaders from Castle Computers.

What is an autoloader?

Also known as a stackloader, it is a tape storage device that automatically loads tape cartridges. As you can see, this is done by a robotic arm or mechanism that will either load cartridges sequentially or in a specified order.

Volume of data is increasing

Think about how your data needs have changed in only a relatively short period of time. No longer is data just text rich; it is now visually and possibly musically rich too. Just think of the videos and so on that you generate as part of your content and so on.


All this data needs to be stored, archived and, for additional security, encrypted too. This essentially means that your tape storage or library needs to be bigger in order for it to be able to safely consume and store all the data, backed up on a nightly basis.

The autoloader, the mechanical device that changes tapes according to a pre-determined sequence, may no longer be of sufficient capacity to deal with the amount of data being generated. Thus, a backup tape library may be the option.

Two confusable technologies

Tape libraries and autoloaders can be easily confused as they both back up multiple tapes, in a way that is automated. In essence, smaller businesses tend to favour the autoloader. Consisting of a tape drive, a tape magazine and robotic arm, they move tapes between drive and magazine on an ‘as needed’ basis.

The biggest difference between an autoloader and a tape library is that the tape library has two or more tape drives. The loading mechanism as part of tape drives within a library is that the backup task in hand can run on a parallel basis. Some say that for a bigger business with bigger data storage needs, this can mean an additional layer of reliability. For example, if a tape library failed, conceivably could continue with backup or restoration operations.

The benefits of tape libraries over and above an autoloader can make the auto loading device look like a poor relation. You will come across many articles that suggest rather than spending money on an autoloader – a false economy, it may be said – that you would be better investing in a tape library.

The issue here is one of cost. You may assume that your current tape storage set up is compatible with a tape library set up. However, you may find this is not the case and that your set up will need to be a completely new in terms of all devices and so on.


How to make the decision

If you have realised that you need to improve your storage data and retrieval system, you are faced with a whole heap of technology at various costs.

Budgets are rarely inexhaustible thus, you need to make the right for your business at that time that fits within your budget.

For a small business making headway into larger amounts of data, the autoloader can be a great place to start. You will also notice after research that the modern-day autoloader is far more sophisticated than earlier models. In fact, there is an overlap in both technology and cost with some tape library sets up that for a smaller business, would make economic sense.

The best way to make the right decision for you is to consult with an expert company on all aspects of tape storage, including autoloaders. However, it pays to spend some time thinking about the capacity you currently need in terms of data storage, as well as how quickly these needs will change and expand.

Having an idea of how this will change in the coming months or year is an important consideration as buying too small, or with not enough adaptability could mean that you spend money setting up a new system that soon becomes obsolete or struggling to cope with the demands placed upon it.

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