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Can Tape Be Used for Backup, Not Just Archive?

You might think tape is a thing of the past. No-one still stores their data on tape, right? Actually, you’d be surprised at just how much a viable solution tape still is. While things like hard disk drives, solid state drives, and cloud storage have become popular in the modern day, tape does still have its place.

Indeed, you might well be aware of companies that use tape for storing their archives. What you might not know is that tape can actually be used for regular backup too.

Tape is the most cost-effective storage solution there is. While some have lower upfront costs, a fact which is especially true of cloud providers, the long-term costs of retaining data make tape a greatly cheaper option. The benefits are greater the more storage you have, but even at a minimal scale tape is a great inexpensive way to store data. There’s no subscription model that can suddenly shoot up, no risk of having to transfer everything to a new service, like there would be with the cloud.

Secondly, look in the news and you’ll see how regular ransomware attacks are becoming. This is the problem when our data is stored online or on networks connected to the internet. If a malicious person finds a loophole, they can break in and steal your data. The only way to truly protect against this is using a storage medium that has absolutely no online connection – and that’s tape.

Finally, tape is reliable. Gone are the days of tape spooling out everywhere or having read errors. Not only has the tape technology itself improved, but so have the devices that actually read the data. Most organisations using tape in 2020 have little to no situations of unreadable data – far less than something like a hard disk drive, for example.

Interestingly, tape has good application for backup too. Most data requests are for data that was backed up recently, with the rare request for old data. It’s an even smaller subset of that which actually requires speedy recovery. Most people can wait for their data, which means that tape is still efficient enough for the purpose. Businesses can reduce their disk storage capacity up to 80% if they send the backups into tape for the longer-term storage too.

Modern backup solutions should have features that let you scale your data from disk to tape as per your parameters. You could set a specific window which, when reached, transfers the data from disk onto tape. This is usually necessary because most backup environments can’t feed data into a tape library quick enough, which in turn makes the technology seem slow.

If you are in a business looking to streamline your costs of backup, you should consider data. Plus, not only is there a financial gain, but there’s also the increased security you get alongside it. A tiered backup solution is the best approach, controlled by software, so that data can be sent through repositories of different levels that represent different mediums.


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