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Data Tapes Live On

Rumors of the death of data tapes have been greatly exaggerated.

Whereas cloud backup and data recovery is being touted as The Next Big Thing — and it probably is warranted — many are assuming this will spell the end of data tapes. Not so fast.

An eye-opening new article from ComputerWorld.com shows the other side, which is that for the purpose of efficient and economic long-term storage, data tapes still have an advantage.

data tape

Who me? No, I’m not going anywhere.

It’s a pretty simple concept, really, but one that’s easy to miss: If you fill up a data tape with important information like past financials, medical records or old customer info, it can be stored in a small space for years, with no cost involved other than the cost of the data tape itself and what you’ll pay to store it in a secure environment.

Storing that same information to disk requires a constant source of electricity in order to keep those platters spinning. Plus there is ongoing backup and drive maintenance involved for files stored to hard drives, wherever those hard drives may be.

The article also notes that in some cases, large amounts of data can be more quickly accessed by overnighting a data tape from RIM provider as opposed to downloading it through a network pipe. So, while the cloud has distinct advantages, proclaiming the demise of data tapes may be premature. In fact, even with the alleged takeover of the cloud, what we may be looking at for some time to come is a hybrid model in which the long-term storage falls to tape and the more current data will be primarily accessed via cloud computing.

“Just because you don’t want to deal with tape … doesn’t absolve you of the business requirements of holding your data for five years or seven years,” Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst Jason Buffington told ComputerWorld.com. “Your data almost inevitably is going to still live on tape, before it’s over.”

Anyone else out there feel like they owe data tapes an apology?

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