It's tough to say with a certainty what the right archive type is because realistically there are a number of factors that have to be considered when answering the question. How big is the office? How sophisticated are the IT people who are responsible for the archiving process? What is the archiving budget? What types of systems are in use? What type of data is being archived?
For a small office that is truly interested in archiving their data, I would probably recommend tape. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, tape offers high capacity performance for a low cost, which is important for a small organization with a limited budget.
Another reason why I would recommend tape is because in a small office environment, tape makes it very easy to keep the archives organized. Remember, most small organizations probably aren't going to go through the trouble of implementing a data lifecycle management product that automatically moves aging data to the archives. I have worked with a number of small organizations over the years, and my experience has been that most do not perform archiving at all. Those organizations that do perform archiving generally treat it as a manual process. Tape fits in perfectly with this.
Suppose, for instance, that an organization is required to keep their financials for seven years. At the end of seven years, maybe they want to move that data off of their file server as a way of reclaiming some space, but they don't want to completely get rid of the data.
In such a situation, the data could easily be written to tape prior to purging it from the file server. If the organization ever needed to retrieve old financial data, they could simply mount the tape labeled "2007 financials" (or whatever the tape name happens to be). While no approach is foolproof, you may find this is the right archive type for your organization.
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What you need to know about tape vaulting
Comparing email, general archiving software
Dig Deeper on Long-term archiving
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