Exploring Different Trends in Tape Storage

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trends in tape storage

How was tape storage introduced?

Tape storage is referred to a system in which magnetic tapes are used to store data. Magnetic tapes are the recording media in the tape storage method. Magnetic tapes are thin strips having a magnetic coating on one side that collects the magnetized data.

U.S. and British researchers introduced the tape storage method after they saw the magneto phone during World War II.

When tape storage was first introduced, it became quickly popular among large-scale industries. Tape storage caught everyone’s eye when it was first used in UNIVAC in its auxiliary memory in 1951.

Tape storage helped large-scale industries in performing analysis as tape storage was capable to handle large amounts of data which was earlier difficult due to lack of storage methods that could have high data capacity.

How has tape managed to survive this far?

Tape storage has been in the market for a long time, nearly for six-decade and tape provides several benefits. The tape has been managed for 60 years due to the benefits they provide, especially the security.

Storage and security are the most important feature that tape storage providers. Although we do not hear innovations in tape in regular intervals they do bring some required changes.

Surely, this is why tape has managed to be in demand till this date and the following are benefits of using a tape.

Tape storages have a high capacity storage area which helps them in archiving data, backing up data for emergencies. Any type of industry produces large numbers of data every day and to cope up with it needs a storage device because the data not only helps in creating the future of the company but the data also holds how data should be handled in software and how each infrastructure should interact in the data center.

Entertainment companies now need high capacity storage to store movies, videos in 8K/4K. Companies need large storage spaces to carry out an analysis.

Apart from that, security is heavy in tape storage. Security features in tape storage make the tape immune to ransomware. This is possible as large amounts of data are backed up. So even if the data gets stolen, data can access from back up and the company can continue its services.

If storage devices are secure then companies are safe and cut down on losses to a great extent.

Now, tape storage will also work with cloud storage which will help companies and cloud providers in many ways.

Tapes are effective in carrying out actions or transferring data at high transfer rates which allows the tape storage to back up quickly as well as retrieve data quickly.

Tapes also help companies to reduce their cost n storage item since tape storages cost less per gigabyte. Combining less cost per tape along with large capacity and being compact in size reduces so much. More capacity means there will be less number of storage units required and being compact makes the storage unit require less area to keep them.

As mentioned earlier, tape storage has been in the industry for more than 60 years, and to support more, tape storages are reliable for 30 years. These are sturdy and also have large magnetic bits creating better blocking energy.

Unlike disk storage, tape storages get quiet when not in use. Whereas if disk storage is not in use, the disk continuously rotates as long it is connected to a source of energy. This means that even if disks are not in use they are continuously consuming power. Along with this, when a disk is continuously rotating, it is continuously generating heat for which it will require HVAC equipment and in more numbers which will not be the case if tape storage is being used. Therefore, using tapes help companies to save energy.

Tapes also have less error rates.

Above mentioned benefits make tape storage a great solution for eco-friendly options storage. Since tape storages are reliable for 30 years, which means it can be used for several years whereas disks only support five years. This way there will be less e-waste. Also, using tape storage reduces the use of HVAC, therefore, saving energy and resources. Also, there will be less generation of heat which is better for the environment.

Lastly, tape has still managed to be this far is because of the developments that have been done to the tape storage. Always updating keeping in mind the demand of their users and especially improving in the section of security and compatibility.

Tapes being compatible makes it even easier for the users to use. Although there are drawbacks like taking time to update data it is still improving and one day might be covered.

IBM, HPE, Quantum, and FujiFilm are introducing various features which are making tape storage stand out from others.

The following are trends in tape storage

Encryption – before storing data, it first gets encrypted into smaller bits and then gets stored in the tape and access the data, user needs a key which then will decrypt the data and give access to the data.

WORM – Write Once Read Many. This feature allows the user to store data which do not need to be altered later like evidence. This will benefit lawyers since the evidence will remain as it was stored.

Airgap – when companies face attacks, companies try to lose fewer data as much as possible. To make it happen, the tape allows users to remove the tape from the server which means that users can take away their data even if cyber attackers have a grab at it and this what creates an air gap.

Partition – currently users have four partitions in the tape. Till LTO-5, two partitions were available but from LTO-6, four partitions were introduced. Partitioning helps users to have four different libraries for each partition allowing for separate writing ideas.

It has Multi-layer security supports via hardware-based encryption

LTFS – Linear Tape File System. This feature helps the tape to have the benefit of a disk drive in terms of accessing files. This helps the tape to access files similar to faster than disks. Although tape media requires a specific format of data and software but even being a tape, it has the benefits of a disk.

Tapes will help in Mitigating Ransomware, Data Loss, and Corruption.

BaFe – Barium Ferrite. This reduces the magnetic particles and as a result, a tape can hold more data since it increases data density. This helps in increasing recording density and producing high-capacity cartridges. This is a patent technology by FujiFilm. Another benefit is that these are already oxidized making them immune to oxidization, therefore, providing service to their users for a longer period of time. This helps in producing better frequency features which increase the margin of recording capability.

Areal Density – this helps in measuring the number of information bits. Bits are stored according to the track length, surface area, or in any given volume of a storage medium. Density depends on the quantity of data stored in that physical space. Since, if a physical storage area is capable of having high density then it will be capable of holding a large amount of data in the storage medium. Therefore, the storage capacity of a storage medium depends on the areal density of that medium.

Earlier tapes were compatible with their previous generation but not in every aspect. Sometimes they did not either write compatibility or reading. Now with LTO-9, not only it is capable of the previous generation in terms of writing and reading, but it is now also expected to be compatible with its upcoming generation which is LTO-10. LTO-9 is recently launched by IBM and FujiFilm with 580TB of storage and more than every transfer rate.