Understanding the Strengths and Weaknesses of Tape Backup

Tape as a backup storage solution has played an important role in data storage industry since the 1970s. However, modern storage technology such as cloud offers a practical alternative to tape for long-term storage. Of the multitude of tape data recovery and tape conversion cases handled each year, the question has emerged about the strengths […]

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Tape as a backup storage solution has played an important role in data storage industry since the 1970s. However, modern storage technology such as cloud offers a practical alternative to tape for long-term storage.

Of the multitude of tape data recovery and tape conversion cases handled each year, the question has emerged about the strengths and weaknesses of different storage formats. In this article, we will cover the strengths and weaknesses f tape storage as we know it.

Strengths of Tape Backup

  • Storage Density – Today’s tape formats offer an extremely large storage capacity in a small cartridge. LTO cartridges allow businesses an easy way to back up enterprise systems without the dedication of entire rooms to server hardware.
  • Dependability – Physical tape cartridges aren’t particularly vulnerable to physical damage or malware attacks. They can safely store data for up to 30 years without experiencing decay or corruption.
  • Low Overhead – The overall cost of tape is less in terms of electricity and administrative expenses.
  • Easy Replication – Enterprise businesses can simply make physical copies of tape backups. In fact, several formats even offer advanced encryption for greater security, improving the utility of each backup.

Weaknesses of Tape Backup

  • Lengthy Access Speeds – Tape formats do not allow for random access to data, but some formats use specialized file systems that allow for reasonably fast access to individual files.
  • High Initial Cost – New tape system installation requires a huge investment. Businesses also need to purchase new media and pay operating costs for system management.
  • Limited Scalability – Tape system scalability is limited by the capacity of the format, even though tapes take up less physical room than hard drives. System upgrades are inevitable.

Conclusion

When deciding whether data tapes are an appropriate backup option for your business, consider whether or not you need to make full system backups on a regular basis, if you can have the ability to regularly update the system, and if you require physical copies of your backup data.

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