Why Tape Storage Is Still Relevant

Tape nowadays seems to be outdated as a backup device especially with the introduction of more efficient ways such as cloud backup and hard drives. These devices are more efficient and have larger storing capacity. Nonetheless, some organizations are still using tape to restore data. Though we know that it is no longer fashionable like other forms of storage, in this article we look at whether the tape is still a viable form of storage. Tapes are presently being used in some areas for backup and archiving.

Is Tape Backup Still popular in 2017?

Tapes are likely to survive extinction due to the massive accumulation of volumes of data in modern data centers. Unlike people’s expectation, tapes are no longer huge and do not run through a complex computation. The latest tape’s drive uses cartridges which can hold data of up to 15TB.


Tape storage is facing challenges from the advancement in data center industry. Storage devices that are flash-based have developed new tiers that have higher IOPS and low latency. Hard drive manufacturers have also responded to the rapid changes in the industry by increasing the storage density of rotating media which have lowered the cost of gigabytes. Cloud storage such as Amazon Glacier is commonly being used by most business because it offers offsite backup which has a lower cost per gigabytes and it is easy to transfer data through the internet. Hence, this has led to the replacement of tape drives as the backup system.

However, this does not mean that tape storage is becoming irrelevant. The new tape is still being used in finance or legal sectors that require data that have not been tampered with, and it is possible to prove that the data has not been altered by using the Write-once-read-many (WORM).

Many organizations will still be using tapes for some time. Even though the disk is cheap, the organization needs to protect their investment and hence will not just throw away their tape libraries.

Unlike spinning disk, the tape is cheaper to maintain. Though the drive is cheap, it has a higher ongoing operational cost due to the constant requirement of power for spinning.

Most businesses have shifted to cloud storage which has led to an increase in the volume of customer’s data this has created a problem for the cloud service provider; they are continually looking for more storage capacity to meet customer’s needs. This process has led them to use the tape as the optimal solution.

Some of the important advantage of tape over other forms of storage is the low price points compared to other media storage. It also has a potential longevity of about several decades if it is maintained and kept at low temperature and humidity. Companies can use them as an additional backup which is a secure offsite backup. Small business can use tape because it is cheaper and requires lesser workforce.

A business with a small IT department could opt for tape as a storage option because it is easier t get a Quikstation which they can use as a library.

Local laws that demand that data should remain in their country of origin has helped the tape to stay relevant because another form of storage such as the cloud service does not offer a way in which data can be stored and remain in the country of origin. Once they comply with this law it might cause extinction in the tape as a storage medium.

Pros and Cons of tape storage

Some of the fundamental advantages of tape are its durability and affordability. The storage capacity of their cartridges is as much as that of HDDs. However, some of the challenges of using tape as a medium of storage are the increased delay while trying to transfer a file from tapes. Hence, the cloud services and hard disks offer a better transfer solution than the tape. The fact that buying a cassette after you have the equipment to record and run data is cheaper has helped the tape to survive through the recent advancement.

Presently tape is still a relevant form of storage especially in a legal organization which is a mandatory requirement and also due to its durability which many organization has to retain because of protecting their investment.

4 thoughts on “Why Tape Storage Is Still Relevant

  • March 12, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Speaking of old storage, how about a background on magnetic core and CRT memory?

  • April 4, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    tape storage is very important, not just because of cost but the durability and secureness compare to HDDs or SSD.

  • April 17, 2018 at 9:06 am

    the end of HD are very soon, now the tape storage will likely to shine again.

  • April 21, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    why still use tape storage? it so outdated.


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