Tape Backup: Is it Obsolete?

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Tape data backup and recovery is today becoming an obsolete technology as newer and better solutions are replacing the traditional tape backup systems. Tape backup is usually used by larger corporations such as banks and financial firms that depend on the resilience of tape backup and tape backup tools. Tape backups are much more dependable than normal backups as data is written on a physical tape (floppy or cassette) that can be stored and later retrieved when needed. There arehowever, disadvantages of tape and these include: it can be very time consuming to make a backup and to retrieve the data, it is monetary expensive to make a backup, and much needed storage is required to store the tape backups. For those companies that require long term backed up data, then tape is the solution to their backup needs.

Magnetic film stored in a climate controlled storage area can virtually survive hundreds of years; however, how important is that data and will the devices and software be available decades from now to actually read the data and restore it?

Today's market demands low price software and hardware, fast access and backup times, and convenient restore options. In all these points tape backup is unfortunately unattractive. First, the hardware to read and write tapes isn't standardized. Second, tapes are not standardized: they require special devices and software. Tapes needs to be rewound so they don't provide random access, unlike USB flash drives and regular hard drives.

Another interesting shift in market trends is that information is becoming increasingly short-lived. Data does not need to be kept forever. Usually the "life expectancy" of information is just a couple of years in most industries, after which information is becoming obsolete and redundant.

Apart from very few extremely critical applications, tape backup technology is simply not keeping up with the times. The cost per GB, the cost of maintenance, and the inconvenient handling make tape backup an outdated technology which is only suitable in small niches who can afford it.