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103 (Is Tape Storage Relevant Anymore)

Is Tape Storage Relevant Anymore?

Mauricio PreussJackie Leavitt

Written by Mauricio Preuss (CEO & Co-Founder)

Reviewed by Jackie Leavitt (Chief Editor)

Last Updated: 2024-02-20T13:27:14+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

Tape storage may seem antiquated in the age of cloud backup and large capacity hard disk drives. So, it begs the question, is using tape as a means of restoring data now obsolete? Despite the Internet, e-books and digital tablets, libraries are still an essential part of daily life.

And as a mirror to this example, tape storage is still a useful tool in an era where cloud backup has become the de-facto form of storage and digital safekeeping.

Why Tape Storage May Still Have Relevance

The use of magnetic tape for storage, dates back to some of the first computers in the 1950s. These rolls featured a capacity of less than one megabyte; hard to imagine that something like this could still be in use today. Rest assured however, there have been advancements, and yes magnetic tapes are still manufactured. Which can now hold as much as a terabyte of data per tape.

There are advantages to using what may seem like an antiquated system. Data on tape can be compressed to a much smaller size, compared to hard disk drives. Which can be very beneficial to companies that need to store large amounts of data and keeping costs down. Cassettes are also cheaper to buy than other traditional backup options.

IBM Increases Tape Storage
Read-Write Tape Machine

Tape storage has an advantage that most hard disk drives don’t,the format  is designed to be rugged enough to be stored for up to 30 years, something that cannot be guaranteed for other forms of backup.

Tape technology still has an important role to play in small to medium sized businesses. However, that role has changed from being the primary form of backup, to fulfilling compliance requirements. Many companies must have a secure off-site backups. Tape cartridges can be taken off line and removed from the premises, and data stored on them is also less prone to corruption or sabotage.

Some small to medium business owners can’t afford a large IT staff that can help ensure the safety and security of company data. For such companies, tape technology offers them an affordable line of defense. All they need to do is invest in equipment, such as a QuikStation, that can function as a library.

Proponents of cloud storage are quick to point out that it fulfills those requirements. However, there are some local laws that require data to reside in the country of its origin. Sadly, not all cloud storage companies can guarantee that this will happen.

Why Consumers Are Moving Away From Tape Storage

It may sound like tape is great, and it has many benefits, such as being cost effective and durable. In addition, it can store as much data as a hard disk drive. Nevertheless, with all of that in mind, most consumers see it for what it is, an archaic way to save their data for backup.

The biggest problem with tape backup is the fact that it takes a while to transfer files from. There is nothing quick about restoring an entire system, hard disk drives and cloud services move at a undeniably  faster rate.

Tape Backup
LTO and DDS Tape

Tape has its usefulness. Hard disk drives can corrupt overtime and aren’t a good idea for long term backup. The physical media is also cheaper to purchase once the equipment to record and run these cassettes has been purchased. Tape isn’t dead, yet. It still has lots of relevance in the world of business because of its durability and compliance with many local laws.


Tape storage is going the way of the dinosaur, though. It is only a matter of time before more companies turn away from this antiquated method of saving data.

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As more cloud services change the way they store data to comply with local laws, fewer companies will be left with any practical reason to use tape storage as a way to backup their important information. If you’re ready to move to the cloud, we’ve made a chart so that you can compare online storage easily.

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