Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

How Long Will Your Data Tapes Last?

Most estimate the lifespan of a magnetic data tape is about 30 years. In that scenario, you could theoretically load your company’s critical data onto tape and not have to worry about it until your kids are out of college.

As you probably guessed, however, it’s not really that simple. Think about every car ad you see on TV that boasts 32 miles per gallon — those estimates always come with the qualifier, “Your mileage may vary.” Which is to say that if you drive like Dale Earnhardt Jr., your Toyota Camry’s mileage might not live up to the manufacturer’s projections.

Similarly, if you keep a data tape with an estimated lifespan of 30 years in the trunk of that Camry, well, your mileage may vary. (Not the gas mileage, the tape mileage.) posted an interesting article about the lifespan of data tapes. Basically, it all boils down to how you treat your tapes. And the care you take when protecting those tapes should be given the same amount of value as the data contained on them. If losing those tapes may cost you your business, then keeping them in a file cabinet in the storage room of your business is selling them short.

Filing Cabinet vs Climate Controlled Vault

You see, magnetic data tapes are meant to be stored in a climate-controlled environment for maximum life and protection. These requirements may vary somewhat from tape to tape, but they are fairly narrow in terms of how they can best be protected, and this article points out some basic parameters.

Also, you’ll need to give thought to how long you will need to keep the data stored on any given tape. Certain records are regulated so that they can be or even are mandated to be destroyed after a certain period of time. If that regulation is, say, seven years, then you’re in fairly good shape if you plan properly to store those tapes.

But if a tape contains data that must be retained long-term (like, long after your children graduate college), you’ll also want to put in place a system of transferring that important information to new media on a rotating basis, be it every two years, five years, ten years, etc.

Bottom line, however, your best bet for maintaining the integrity of your data tapes — and your critical business data — is to store off-site in a climate-controlled vault. There, your data tapes will be managed by professionals in a secure environment that was built specifically for such data storage.

The Data Vault’s business and reputation is built upon just such a climate-controlled vault.

If your data tapes are not stored in such a vault, strongly consider making the move. Otherwise, your mileage may vary.


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