Data Storage Wars 2: Tape vs. Disk

No Comments

On the internet, there is 1.2 Zettabytes or 1.3 trillion gigabytes of data. That amounts to 75 billion fully loaded 16gb iPads. If you stacked them on top of one another, they’d reach a towering 339 miles into the sky! That number grew 62% in 2009 alone. Organizing, tracking, and understanding all that data storage is a nightmare, but you can’t do any of those without first storing it. So, where and how do we store all of the data we create?

Organizations constantly walk the slack line of balance between need for instant access and data security with the ability to recover archives when needed. In a majority of workplaces, no one seems to notice when IT infrastructures are running smoothly, but as soon as systems go down, all hell breaks loose. Heaven forbid there happens to be a data loss when systems go down and external regulators become involved.

Is there a better back up system to guarantee that data can be recovered upon request? Is disk-based storage back up a more efficient option than the tried and tested tape libraries? Each data backup option has its pros and cons. However, the backup data storage you chose shouldn’t be about what is best overall, but instead what is best for your own situation. The decision is completely up to you; the least we can do is help guide in the right direction.

The Case for Tape Data Storagedata storage library

High Data Storage Capacity

LTO (linear tape-open) data tape is the leading tape backup format. Its latest product offering, LTO-8 and LTO-8 Type M, was released to the market late 2017 and early 2018 respectively. The LTO-8 model offers 12TB of storage native and 30Tb of storage compressed. The LTO 8M model is very unique in the way it allows for forward and backward compatibility. LTO  8M is actually an LTO-7 tape cartridge with a special bar code label on it.  The label tells the LTO-8 tape drive to format the LTO-7 media as a Type M cartridge. This brings the capacity from 6 TB native up to 9 TB native.

Low Overhead Cost

Tape is the most reasonable option for data storage needs. When comparing tape based storage to disk based storage, even with the same data capacity tape will be more price efficient every time. This is true even when you factor in the costs of offsite library storing. Additionally, once tape is stored long term, it no longer requires an energy source; unlink disk storage that requires an energy source for constant cooling.


Tape is used only when transferring data to it. After the transfer finishes, the tapes sit idle on a shelf. On the other hand, disk based backup systems are constantly running and in operation; leaving disk more susceptible to breaking down. However, maintenance still remains vital to the longevity of tape. Tape must be kept in a clean environment to prevent dust or dirt from getting into the cartridges.

The Case for Disk Data Storagedisk data storage

Fast Recovery Speeds

Finding a specific file with disk based storage like a hard drive system is faster than with a tape based storage system. Businesses also lean towards to implementing disk storage in-house as opposed to an off-site data housing facility. This eliminates the hassle of having to ship data from an offsite storage partner when you need a file.

Data Security

Obviously, a data center is hard to misplace, unlike individual tapes. A major advantage of disk-based data backup is not having to worry about secure data transportation, because the data is all in a giant data center.

Efficient Data Storage

Disk based storage allows for deduplication. Deduplication means you can store data more quickly and perform full backups less often. However, disk storage is constantly running and that means risk of running hot. Not only do you have to power the disk storage systems, but you also have to power cooling systems to keep them from overheating. It’s a smart idea to review all associated costs before investing in a disk-based data storage system.


An onsite disk storage infrastructure uses a large amount of both storage space and energy. The ability to dedicate the precious real estate to other needs by sending less-used data to offsite locations for long-term storage is a big plus for tape data backup systems. It is also a good idea to have critical data stored offsite in case of a fire, flood or other disaster.

The Verdict

The argument between tape based storage and disk based storage is fairly simple. The two data storage mediums are different. Even though they both ultimately perform the same job function, they’re intended for different purposes. Disk-based storage provides fast recovery speeds, on-site data security, and can be provide efficient storage solutoions. Whereas tape-based storage, provide large storage capacity in a small cartridge, low overhead costs, and the ultimate form of reliability.

The answer to the age-old question of “tape or disk” is, if at all possible, both. D2D2T (disk-to-disk-to-tape) storage systems deliver a hybrid of both storage technologies making use of the speed and flexibility of disk, but with the strong support of tape storage to add that extra security for your precious data.

No matter which data backup method an organization chooses to implement, it will have its fair share of both benefits and drawbacks due to technology continuing to make advances in speed, efficiency and security. When the time is right for your business to install a data storage infrastructure or upgrade the infrastructure currently in place, let We Buy Used Tape do the work for you. Since 1965, We Buy Used Tape has been assisting IT professionals and their companies efficiently update their data backup systems. Used and surplus tape and disk storage can be re-purposed; helping businesses increase initial return on investment while staying socially responsible. Contact one of our IT experts today for a hassle-free quote on your IT assets. Let us take care of your infrastructure update and security from start to finish.we buy used tape logo


More from our blog

See all posts
No Comments

    Leave a Comment