By Leticia Rodriguez

A full length version of this blog was originally published on MSPmentor on Aug. 9, 2012.

After hearing stories of frustration with tape from several small businesses, I did some number crunching to find out what it really costs the average SMB to manage what was once considered an “inexpensive” method to  data backup and recovery. The result may surprise you.

$14,000+/Year When All is Well

First consider the daily life of the average SMB IT technician: manually backing up to tape each day, transporting daily backups to an offsite location, etc.  Keep these numbers in mind: the average 2012 U.S. mileage rate is $0.55 cents per mile, the average IT technician makes $33.25 an hour, and a company’s offsite tape storage location should be at least 46 miles away from its office. If it takes that technician one hour to reach your offsite storage location once a day, every day, you’re paying $58.55 a day. Multiply that number by 250 (the number of working days in a year) and your company is spending an additional $14,637.50 a year on tape offsiting alone.

Think you can avoid this cost by hiring an outside service to transport your tapes daily? No so fast. Some companies can charge as much as $200 an hour, or $25,000 per year, not to mention the risk of possible security breaches and additional downtime while waiting for someone who is not invested in your company’s success to retrieve the tapes. If you simply reduce your offsiting to once a week, you’re leaving your business vulnerable to greater data loss and downtime when a server fails or other emergency hits. Find out “How Much Downtime Your SMB Can Afford,” and learn the return on investment (ROI) of business continuity before taking such a risk.

$47,800 Each Time Something Goes Wrong

Picture this:  You’re the head IT technician at a law firm that’s about to start working a high-profile case. A partner and her team of associates and paralegals have worked for several weeks to pull together critical evidence, research and arguments. Then the firm’s main server fails and you’re expected to restore all the files immediately.

You hit bumper-to-bumper traffic while driving to the offsite location and it takes more than an hour to reach your exit. Upon arriving, you discover that one of the cooling appliances burned out and it’s been an especially hot day. As a result, you spend the next hour collecting the damaged tapes and another 1 1/2 hours weaving through traffic on your way back to the office. It’s way past the end of the work day when you finally arrive, where you discover that 25% of the files needed are unrecoverable because of the damaged tape.

In those six hours of downtime spent traveling to get the tape and retrieve and restore the files, your company lost at least $12,600 in billable time in one day. Recreating the unrecoverable/lost files would take an additional four days, or at least $47,800 in billable time.

You may eventually restore your damaged files, but that $47,800 hit is unrecoverable. The reality is that “inexpensive” tape is now an ironic way to describe something that can be cheap to purchase, but will empty your wallet in the end.