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Tape is currently the most commonly used media for archiving. LTO-5 tape costs as low as 3 cents per GB with 2:1 compression. When used for archiving purposes, the tape, once the data has been written, can be taken offline and stored without incurring future power costs.
However, there are additional costs related to the long-term storage and transport of tapes, as well as questions about how long a tape can be expected to reliably store data for long-term archiving.
AWS said that tape or other media, when used for archiving, requires the upfront purchase of the array or library, as well as on-going operational costs including power, facilities, staff and maintenance. Those costs are not incurred with Amazon Glacier, the company said.
The value of Amazon Glacier depends on the use case, said Greg Knieriemen, an enterprise technology podcaster and vice president of marketing at Chi Corp., a Cleveland, Ohio-based solution provider.
At 1 cent per GB per month, it is cheaper to buy and use a hard drive for many archiving cases, Knieriemen said.
"For long-term retention, Amazon Glacier's biggest benefit will be for customers who never need to access their data again," he said.
For most of Chi's customers, archived data will be accessed once stored, Knieriemen said.
"If you retain data for compliance, your compliance policies and how you access the data dictates how it is used," he said. "If you do a lot of e-discovery and searches, I'm not sure Amazon Glacier is a good option. Many of our customers use archiving for infrequently-accessed data, but they still access it."
In addition, archiving data is more than just dumping the data somewhere, Knieriemen said. "How do you manage it," he said. "Search and e-discovery requires active access to the data."