Your onsite backup drives are obsolete. What now?

Your onsite backup drives are obsolete. What now?

posted in Product ● 8 Mar 2016

When it comes to backup storage, cloud storage isn’t always ideal for your business. Onsite backups are generally considered to be a hassle compared to an easy cloud-sync. There are many companies that still prefer keeping their backups on-site because it’s easier to control – it might be more work but you decide how and where backups happen.

How long do I have?

Because you’ll be maintaining your own data storage devices on-site, it helps to know what your options are. Gone are the days of keeping onsite backups on data cards and the floppy disks. What remains are the high-density hard-disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD) – even hybrids known as SSHDs – that seem to be holding more and more data each year as the technology develops. 

But Moore’s Law has plateaued and projections of data storage device developments have become less certain. Some factors to consider about ageing backup drives, and best to incorporate into your IT policies, are the following:


  • Most importantly, refer to the manufacturers warrantee. Once a hard drive can no longer be replaced free of charge due to manufacturing failure, your hardware cost escalates needlessly.
  • Keep an eye on your data storage needs. For instance, if your NAS and RAID arrays are running out of space, better re-evaluate your backup schedules and ensure the right files are being stored. It could be that you require bigger drives.
  • Regularly scan for disk integrity. SSDs are great but they have a much lower write-count than traditional HDD magnetic disk platters, for example. A low-level scan of any data storage device will identify corrupt sections, giving you the signal that the device is no longer reliable.

Destroy and recycle

In 2012, 49 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) was generated by countries across the globe. Now that you’ve decided the drive has to go, take an informed decision about the impact of doing so:

  1. Instead of throwing them in the garbage, hard drives should be destroyed to protect sensitive data. Hire a certified company that specialises with this to make sure the destruction is reliable.
  2. Buy a shredder. Yes, hard drives can be shredded like paper. These machines, however, can be quite costly. If the shredding is outsourced, the shreds are usually sent to be melted down for recycling purposes.
  3. Disassemble them. Many of the components can be re-used or remoulded. A reputable e-waste collection company will be able to help with this. Some governments provide tax benefits for recycling in this way.


Stale backups. If your onsite backups go stale, they should be deleted as soon as possible. Since stale backups are by definition no longer useful, they consume unnecessary disk space that could otherwise be used for important backups. Regularly review your IT policy to ensure you have appropriate retention periods for data backups. You’d be surprised at how many drives unnecessarily consume valuable server room space and electricity.

Donations. Schools across the globe complain that they struggle to meet the demands of expanding class sizes and diminishing budgets. Concurrently, governments are always complaining that the private sector isn’t doing enough to support education departments in teaching the country’s children. Donating your old hard drives is a good way to boost the usage of high-tech equipment in the class room and to prevent electronic waste from ending up in a landfill.

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