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Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Tempering The Arguments Against Tape

As the world buzzes about the imminent release of the newest Apple products, magnetic tape sits in the corner humming along. 62 years after it was first introduced (five years before the first wireless phone), tape continues to be a cornerstone of many small and medium sized business strategies. In fact, without the cost effective bulk data storage provided by tape devices, many of the applications and services that we take for granted while using smartphones might not even be able to exist.

However, pressure has come upon businesses to change their practices. With dropping prices from large providers and flashy new hardware, cloud computing has become the dominant trend within the records management industry. Considering the flexibility and capabilities the technology has to offer it’s not hard to see why, but before jumping ship it pays to take certain strengths that magnetic tape possesses into consideration:

1) Bit Rot

As arcane sounding as this concept is, the costs associated with it can be even worse. Bit rot refers to the inexplicable decay of digital information over time as it sits unused, causing problems when access is finally needed and the data has turned into useless random code. From what we understand of this phenomena it affects all digital storage devices – yet magnetic tape seems to be largely immune. As documented in a blog post by industry expert Curtis Preston, according to experts the chances of facing this data decay are mathematically less by using a tape solution.

2) Exponential Capacity Increases

With research and development continuing despite the rise of alternative storage methods, tape drives today have larger capacities than ever before. Indeed, one drive purchased today is equivalent to a $9,000+ hard drive storage array or about 3,700 Blu Ray HD DVDs.

3) Data Storage Separate From Data Access 

This concept could apply to any number of mediums, but is important to consider when talking about the benefits of storage devices. Unlike a computer server, where if the hardware fails the information contained is gone along with it, when using magnetic tape the data is not tied to a specific piece of machinery. Because you have to insert a cartridge each time you want to access the specific data contained on that drive, if the reader were to have an error or problem the actual storage device could be easily used with a different hardware reader. This important distinction has proven itself valuable numerous times, especially in instances of natural disasters.

All of these reasons should give any organization pause when considering the switch to a newer form of information backup and storage. While different businesses have different needs that may eventually call for more flexible formats, it is good to at least consider the current advantages before jumping ship too quick. If you have any questions, here at The Data Vault we’d be more than happy to consult with you on the options out there and the advantages of each. Head over to our contact us page and one of our experts will be in touch!

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