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Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Tape’s Not Dead

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Magnetic tape storage has been around for a little over 60 years, which is a lengthy amount of time for any technology to be on the market. Contributing to tape’s incredible longevity is the constant discovery of new uses for the bulk information storage it provides, as it’s role has changed over the years to meet the needs of a changing world.

Despite the constant obituaries for this staple of data backup (as recently as 2012) the need for it’s efficient storage has only grown as the digital revolution has overhauled the business community. From the perspective of enterprise service providers, here’s why it has remained relevant:

Cost – Even the cheapest of cloud backup solutions continue to charge a premium over the value magnetic tapes can provide (though that gap is shrinking) and with technology continuing to increase the capacity of individual drives, you can do more with less. These savings from the so called ‘economies of scale’ primarily applies to large enterprises with deep legacy archives, but even small business owners have seen the benefits of being able to backup their entire systems onto a solitary magnetic tape instead of investing in bulky server space or equipment.

Reliability – Looking for a stable system that won’t break down over long periods of time? Despite magnetic tape’s sketchy past in regards to dependability, recent improvements in the technology have largely eliminated the root causes of failure. As cloud computing (and digital storage overall) struggles with the issue of bit rot, tape continues to sit quietly stable for decades at a time.

Performance – Marketing materials for many cloud services targeting tape users make the claim that “tape is consistently slower that cloud” when it comes to restoring information. While a number of situations would find that assertion to be accurate, that is not universally the case. Much of it depends on the sort of information being transferred, how up to date equipment is, and internet connection speeds. These same vendors sometimes find that the easiest way to restore bulk information is via hard drive – completely defeating the purpose of a cloud solution.

With all the talk of changing eras, sometimes tried and true is better than being on the cutting edge. Rather than exposing your critical information to the myriad of security concerns surrounding cloud technologies, take some time and make sure to consider all the alternatives in the marketplace. If we can help you with that decision or answer any questions, feel free to reach out to us and one of our experts will be in touch!

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