Debunking the Myths about Tape Storage

By Michael
September 29, 2011

Google the keywords “tape storage myths,” and you’ll turn up no less than 1,780,000 results. While certainly not all of these results are relevant, the sheer volume of listings speaks to the fact that there’s no shortage of myths out there about storing data on tape.

Myths—a word that implies unproven or false information, of course—abound about how tape compares to disk: “tape is obsolete,” “tape is more expensive to operate,” “tape is unreliable,” “tape is less secure,” “tape is slower,” “tape is less resilient,” the list goes on. If you dig into these search results, you’ll also find that there’s a lot of good information out there dispelling, debunking and generally disproving these false statements about tape. Some especially strong statements from Oracle and Storage Switzerland earlier this year do a great job of presenting a factual case for tape, and rather than rehash their excellent reports I’ll simply suggest you check these out:

The ease with which the myths surrounding tape can be debunked makes me wonder: Where did these myths come from in the first place? Could it have been vendors of disk-only solutions making a hard sell for their products? I’m not saying anyone intentionally flooded the marketplace with false information about tape. But I think it’s possible—likely, even—that the purveyors of the myths around tape were vendors offering a very single-minded, “either/or,” down-with-tape-and-up-with-disk view of where the enterprise storage model was going. (Remember the “Tape Sucks, Move On” slogan?) That way, vendors of disk-only solutions didn’t have to “worry about integration” of tape and disk storage, as George Crump of Storage Switzerland puts it. It’s that kind of thinking that has focused many in our industry on the tape vs. disk debate, rather than on intelligently incorporating multiple storage media into a tiered enterprise storage strategy.

With this in mind, perhaps the most untrue myth about tape is the last one George Crump cites in his post on the subject: “tape and disk must be separate.” George is right: Today, there’s no good reason why companies can’t use tape and disk, along with cloud solutions, together as part of a tiered storage solution. Tape and disk can indeed coexist, allowing enterprises to take advantage of the strengths of both media in different storage tiers—and that’s no myth.


  1. So cute! I already like you on FB and also get your posts on Google Reader. 🙂

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