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6 Reasons Why Tape Is the Best Medium for Long-term Storage

by on April 12, 2011

In a recent post, I talked about the fact that we no longer need to defend tape’s right to exist in the data storage world of today and tomorrow. That’s because tape has proven its strong suit as part of a balanced enterprise storage strategy, especially when it comes to long-term storage and archiving. As we see every day with our clients, there’s a reason why tape lives on—several, in fact.

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So what exactly are the advantages of tape, particularly over the long term? In a nutshell, here’s what makes tape the medium of choice for the long haul:

  1. Tape is low cost.
    Tape is relatively inexpensive (less than a penny per gigabyte) to buy, operate and store in the long run.
  2. Tape is secure.
    Because they’re stored offline, tapes provide protection from system corruption and online security threats, particularly if files are encrypted.
  3. Tape is green.
    Tape is high density, so it consumes relatively little in the way of energy and floor space. The environmental advantage becomes especially critical over the long term, when you consider that storage needs are increasing by 50 percent each year.
  4. Tape is portable.
    It can be stored off site and allows terabytes of data to be moved quickly for a data center relocation or disaster recovery, for example.
  5. Tape backup is accessed sequentially.
    Tape drive backups are stored and can be accessed sequentially—a big advantage, say, in a case like Google’s e-mail restore.
  6. Tape is long lasting and durable.
    Tape can last up to 50 years. Even in the event of a natural disaster or a massive power grid outage, tape stands the best chance of recovery. A tape drive’s hard casing protects its contents, and even if the head of the tape fails, the media can remain functional.

There you have it. Tape’s right to life isn’t a matter of opinion—it’s a fact, and one that’s backed up by some significant advantages, especially when it comes to storing data over the longer term. As companies store more data for longer timeframes thanks to regulatory, audit and analytic requirements, we think it pays to take the long-term view.

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