Why Use Tape in Today’s World?

- Posted by Author: admin in Category: data archive |

How did the tape come into today’s world?

Tape is a drive that stores data with the help of magnetic fields. It is itself very interesting how data is stored into a magnetic tape.

Firstly, the tape was not introduced directly but the idea of creating something similar to the device used by the German engineers called magneto phones. These magneto phones were introduced during World War II to record music.

Later, U.S. and British researchers adapted and developed the magneto phones into a magnetic tape recorder in1940s and slowly got popular during the 1951s.

In 1951s, it was introduced as a medium to store data. It was first used by the UNIVAC 1(the first computer) in its auxiliary memory. This step drove demand for these tapes especially from the large-scale industries since these industries involved handling data for analysis and therefore these industries required high capacity storage drives to store their data.

This way tape primarily became famous due to the reason of providing high capacity drives and that too in such a compact size.

The tape has evolved through the years.

Tapes do not roll out new generations of tapes every year instead it takes their own time to come up with a more advanced generation compared to their previous generations.

Why is tape storage still used today?

While the technology started years ago but it provides features that meet the current requirements of large-scale companies.

Lately, it can be said that recent LTO tapes have their highlights on their increased speed of transfer rate and increased capacity in their drives.

It can’t be overlooked that in this time on earth everyone is mostly in a hurry. People hurry in the office, at home, at shops, on-road, almost everywhere. Now if you see, electronics and gadgets and technology has almost surrounded people. 

Every company wants to have as many consumers as possible and if a person is not satisfied with a company’s service they quickly move on to a different company for service.

To cater services to consumers it is necessary that the company provide access to these consumers as quickly as possible. Apart from this, people are getting aware of data safety so having the trust of a consumer is also necessary for a company for which the company has to boast about its security and safety features and policies. If a company is unable to provide the degree of safety which was promised to its users, then it will have a bad reputation in the market and if the company can’t ensure security and safety then users will not be much willing to share data with the company.

So what happens is that if a company has a secure network then it will have fewer disturbances from cyber attackers. Therefore, the server won’t be affected as when cyber attackers freeze the server access till their requirement is met or the company and hence their services are not available at that moment. During this time those people in hurry leave the affected company.

At times like this, tapes can be physically removed which means that as soon as the company receives the notification of the breach, the tape is physically removed making the tape completely off the server and away from the cyber attackers.

During a cyber-attack, if any data has been lost, the first task of the company will be to restore data. Now as tapes have the fastest transfer rate they will restore data in less time compared to any other drive.

Now, the company can restore data by retrieving the data in case of an emergency. Suppose the storage drive in use gets damaged and to access the data, it needs to be retrieved from the damaged drive and sometimes does not ensure full recovery of data. Tape with its enormous capacity can store the crucial data as a backup which will copy the data exactly as the original data and as a result during unfortunate times, data can be retrieved in its original form.

Data is essential for a company as it helps the company to know or rather gives hints on which direction should the company go to grow and the areas where the company needs to develop.

It is already known that companies deal with a large number of data at a time. To avoid too much data at a time, the user can store data that are currently not required but will be required for reference later in the archive. This feature was the main feature initially.

Apart from these benefits, the tape drives can be used for nearly 30 years which makes the drive not only suitable for the companies but also for the environment as lesser the products are discarded, the lesser will the chances of generating e-waste. 30 years of reliability along with the huge capacity of data and the latest LTOs being compatible with the previous generation LTO is such a benefit.

Tapes help and save the environment and the company in many ways.

Firstly, tapes cost less per gigabyte compared to any other drive.

Tapes generate less heat compared to disk drives.

So, both tape drive and disk drive are connected to a server to transfer or perform any function required by the user. After the function has been performed the tape drive gets quiet and gets at a still position but the disk of the disk drive continues to rotate until the disk medium is disconnected from the server or the electricity. This implies that as long as the disk drive has a supply of electricity, it consumes the energy to rotate even when not performing any action.

We know that the CPU has a built-in fan, the laptop has a built-in fan, and sometimes people even buy an additional fan to keep the devices cool, to keep the processor of those devices cool. Processors continuously process due to which it generates heat and to cool off them, fans are built near them to blow out the hot air. This is what happens when the disk drive continuously rotates making it extremely necessary to use HVAC all the time whereas tape drives will require mainly when tapes are required to perform any action.

As mentioned earlier, tapes can be physically removed it means that tape can be removed whenever needed, and also due to its sturdiness and compact size, it can be easily transferrable to another location without the need to transfer data through servers. This way, data is safe from cyber attackers while transferring data to another branch.

What makes tape so much better than its competitors?

For security, tapes have several features which are explained below:

Encryption – tape stores data but first it encrypts the data.

WORM – Write Once Read Many. This feature helps the user to store data that would require no changes later. This feature was helpful for lawyers who were required to store data relating to evidence.

Airgap – this feature allows the user to physically remove the tape even during an action. This feature is helpful during cyber-attacks to stop the unauthorized transfer of data.

Partition – tapes have a maximum of four partitions which can have different libraries.

Multi-layer security supports via hardware-based encryption

For speed and capacity, tapes have the following features:

LTFS – Linear Tape File System. This feature enables the tape drive to access data similar to the disk drive.

BaFe – Barium Ferrite. It helps in reducing the size of magnetic particles due to which recording density increases and tape stores more data.

What if we don’t use tape?

There are options available to store data in a drive other than tape like SSD, HDD, etc.

Why tape is still the best option available to store a large amount of data on a single drive.

  • Tape drives have LTFS in them which makes them as quicks as disk drives to retrieve data.
  • The latest LTO tape has 18TB of native capacity and 45TB of compressed capacity and recently in December 2020, IBM and Fujifilm have introduced magnetic tape with a capacity of 580TB.
  • It helps the company in saving energy costs compared to using disk drives and also due to tape’s 30 years of reliability it saves the environment from e-waste.
  • Tapes have less error rates compared to other drives.
  • Tape drives are portable and can be kept offline therefore it is a safe drive to keep and transfer data.
  • New generation tapes are compatible to perform read and write functions on their previous generation.
  • Tapes records by first encrypting the data which is then only accessible by the authorized.
  • Its compact size makes it easier to store and due to its large capacity, it is convenient to store videos in 4K/8K. Tapes are now very much in demand in the entertainment industry and not to forget that social media receives loads of data due to which security and storage capacity is very necessary.
  • Although despite several of several benefits it is necessary to rush to use the latest tape it is necessary to know what is the company’s requirement to move towards development. If the company decides to shift to tapes, then it is necessary for the company to also decide how to dispose of the existing drives so that they do affect the environment.