Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

The Truth About Data Tape

Digital magnetic tape has been around for 60 years now. That’s a long time in a world in which humans are constantly striving to come up with The Next Big Thing. Indeed, the appeal of data tape technology has been debated for years, but even with its future existence being questioned by the oncoming surge of cloud technology, companies large and small continue using data tape for backup and storage.

It was nearly 15 years ago when one IT industry analyst said that one in ten data tapes will fail. That analyst (who shall remain nameless) has since vowed that he was quoted out of context, but the hype surrounding that declaration made some dents. Regardless, according to 80% of the world’s digital information continues to be backed up and/or archived to data tape.

Which is to say that data tapes must be doing something right.


Bitpipe’s Jon Toigo has prepared an interesting (and downloadable) read titled The Truth About Tape, an extensive and interesting FAQ about data tape — the good, the bad and the ugly. The paper focuses on:

• The return on investment and cost containment value of data tape.
• The risk reduction value of tape as a technology, as a hedge against regulatory noncompliance and as a
technology investment safe from early obsolescence.
• The importance of data tape as an enabler of greater productivity.

That summary barely does Toigo’s paper justice. It could have been called Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Data Tape, but Were Afraid to Ask. It’s a recommended read, and includes some myth-busting statements such as, “As a rule, tape is generally less expensive to
own and operate than disk. Failure rates in tape media are well below comparable failure
rates in disk.”



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