Data Tapes Have Old and New Advantages

By Michael
January 22, 2015

The emergence of data as a valuable tool for businesses – back in the 1980s and 90s – soon prompted IT developers to come up with an effective means of data storage, according to Information Age. Magnetic tape cartridges and cassettes emerged as the cutting edge of data backup and it stayed that way for some time.

Over time, however, data storage disks overtook tapes as the preferred form of storage and backup. For a time, the advantage was deserved – disks had higher storage capacities and flexibility. Shortly thereafter, solid-state storage and cloud technology overcame data disk backup. Tapes were supposedly forgotten.

Tapes on the comeback trail
But recently, tapes have made a comeback. New investment in better technology has given tapes more storage, better flexibility and improved durability. Combined with tapes’ longstanding advantage – offsite storage – companies continue to choose data backup tapes as their primary option.

“The biggest advantage of tape over other storage media is the ability to easily swap tapes in and out of a system,” Johan Jongsma, CTO of LogicNow’s storage division, told Information Age. “That, combined with a lower price per GB stored, means that it could still be an attractive media to store large amounts of data that has to be stored for a long period of time.”

Enduring advantages of tape backup
Even while other technologies temporarily overtook tape as the best in the business, there were still advantages tape backup could boast that the other platforms were unable to match. Now that the new technology has enhanced tapes, the old benefits are even more noticeable.

First of all, tapes have always been the most affordable option, according to Computer Weekly. On a per-gigabyte basis, tape is roughly half as expensive as disk, even without many of the optional disk features that will end up costing more.

Secondly, data tapes are incredibly mobile. An IT manager can easily ship a crate of tapes to an offsite storage facility, whereas it is a much more complex process to send a disk drive array to a new site. Rather than sending disks from one building to another, it is more likely that a company would copy data over a WAN – which is more expensive both for the links and for the software replication system.

Finally, data tape reading and writing is much faster than any single disk drive and even faster than some SATA-based drive arrays.

For companies that need a reliable backup system, data tapes combined with media management software is still an ideal choice.

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