Is the Tape Industry Dead?

Is the tape industry dead?

With all this talk about the cloud and how amazing it is, coupled with the fact that the usage of disk based backup solutions are increasing, people are starting to wonder if the tape industry is dead.

Why back up to tape, when I can back up to the cloud? That’s one question I hear a lot. For starters, the cloud has proved itself to be unsecure. There is no better example of this than the “hackathon” of celebrity’s intimate photos that took place over the long holiday weekend. Dozens of A-list celebrities who had their photos stored on the cloud, were hacked and had the photos leaked online. As terrible as this is for them, there is a valuable lesson we can all learn from this. The cloud is not nearly secure enough to store your vital data.

These pictures on the cloud were hacked and posted online by a single amateur hacker. Now imagine if this was your customer’s credit card information, or medical records? The results could potentially be catastrophic for your company. All this havoc achieved by someone who isn’t even a professional hacker. If this doesn’t send a strong message that the cloud is still in its infancy stage and should not be used for storing vital data, then you’re most certainly in denial.

You may be asking, “What does this have to do with the future of tape?” That’s simple. We can now rule out the cloud as a replacement backup solution. That leaves disk based backup, which there is nothing wrong with, but is it the best? Let’s do a little comparison of tape and disk. Both tape products and disk products are steadily increasing capacity and speed with each generation, but what about security?

I don’t know a single person who would sacrifice security for speed or for capacity when it comes to the archival of their vital data. Tape offers a significantly stronger protection against malware and viruses. Viruses that are capable of allowing unauthorized people to gain access to your most important data. Just like the photos of the celebrities that were leaked. One virus can infect every computer and disk storage system in an entire office before you even knew it was there. Versus your data stored on offline tapes would be perfectly secure and unharmed.

Now let’s talk about how much you’re going to spend to keep your data secure. Several recent analyst studies have mapped out that disk storage backup can cost anywhere from two, to fifteen times more money to implement than a tape based solution for long term archival. These same studies show that the cost to run and cool a datacenter could cost up to 200 times more for disk solutions. Whether you use one disk backup solution or use an entire datacenter, these extra costs will trickle down to you and you will be paying more money for a less secure way to store your data.

You may be thinking that the extra money is worth it for the capacity and speed difference. Let me assure you, you aren’t up to date with current tape advances. Enter LTO6. LTO6 tape has a native capacity of 2.5TB and compressed, users can get 6.25TB of data on a single tape. How about speed? LTO6 offers a speed of 160MB/Second, or if using compressed data, users can get speeds of 400MB/Second or 1.4 TB/Hour. Good luck finding a disk based storage system that can match those speeds. 

Enter LTO7. Not on the market yet, but surely soon to hit due to LTO6 coming out in 2012. In this roadmap published by the industry consortium that sets the LTO standards, LTO7 tapes will offer the user 6.4TB of uncompressed data, and soon after that LTO8 tapes will bring the user 12.8TB of uncompressed data storage. Do you see where I am going here? Tape is certainly anything but dead.

You heard it here from your friendly neighborhood tape backup solution reseller and refurbisher. InStock Inc. Visit us today at and be sure to like us on facebook to see all our great offers and repairs.