Is Tape Dead?

Is Tape Dead?

21/03/16 | in: General | by: Jack Blogg

A common question asked these days is, is tape back-up on its way out? With the introduction of Flash and SSD storage, and most recently Cloud based technologies, it does raise the question of is there still a use for the classic tape. It is argued that tape is no longer fit for purpose because to access data, tape generally requires the user to read through the file from the beginning in the order in which it is stored which can be time consuming in today’s fast paced life style.

However, tape back-up does have its benefits, it is still considered to be very reliable which is due to it only being in use during backup or recovery operations compared to hard drives which always spin, even when they’re not in use, which also makes it a very power efficient storage technology.

Tape storage means better data economics. A long preferred technology for data backup, tape is proving to be the ideal choice for cost-effective long term storage of unstructured data generated by big data and cloud computing. Scalability, durability, security, energy efficiency and a compellingly lower cost than disk make tape the “secret weapon” for effective long term data retention.

Some plus points of tape solutions include:

  • Large Capacity
    A data cartridge can now hold up to 10TB’s and even more with compression. Tape continues to scale to meet
    the ever increasing demand for larger capacity.
  • High Performance
    With tape you have the ability to retrieve data in seconds at a much lower operating cost.
  • Low Cost
    Media itself is much cheaper and as it doesn’t require constant power and cooling, energy costs are reduced and it can be kept in an office environment. Also as the amount of tapes you need goes up the overall price drops.
  • Scale Easily
    Ability to grow your storage easily as your data grows. Simply acquire more tapes as storage levels increase.

Comparing tape to the newer forms of storage and back-up it is still a very worthy solution, with regards to disk the main comparison to be made is price and tape continues to be one of the lower cost options. It is also important to remember that even with the most recent movement over to cloud orientated services that some of your data is probably still being stored on tape, but with cloud you get the advantage of the service with it.

Overall, tape has now been around for 50 years, it is a popular choice with most IT professionals, it is lowest in cost and is a high performing option for back-up. Even with the introduction of disk and cloud the tape requirement has never gone away, so it would appear that tape is here to stay.

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