When we think of a storage medium for backups, in business or professional environments, NAS and high capacity hard drive cabinets immediately come to mind, but … is it sure that it is the most profitable, efficient and safe medium? With storage needs growing non-stop thanks to new technologies such as big data, cloud, streaming, large-scale computing and IoT, having a cost-effective, secure and efficient storage is a priority for the majority of companies.
During the past year, many advances in the technology of backup tape have been announced, which continue to make its use attractive. The tape media drives and cartridge work as a secure storage medium, with high capacity and with even better performance, remains in the first position of choice for many companies and data centers. Let’s see its advantages over the disc.
Tapes 5 times faster than hard drives
According to industry estimates, by 2025 the transfer rate of the tape media drives is expected to be five times higher than that of the HDDs. This announcement should let us check, but it is not necessary to go so far:
- IBM announced a tape drive with a capacity of 15 TB uncompressed (45 TB with compression) with the use of 3592 tape cartridges.
- The LTO consortium announced its roadmap with specifications for LTO-12 with a capacity of 192 TB (480TB with compression).
- Sony Corp in 2017 announced the development of a technology for tapes with a density of 201 Gbps (GB per square inch). This would allow 330TB cartridges.
- Fujifilm has applied for the patent for tape drives with strontium ferrite with a storage potential of 400 TB per cartridge, i.e. 224 Gbspi.
- The LTFS file system allows you to use the tapes as if they were disk-based storage, transparent to the user.
Cost per GB and TCO
With all this escalation in storage capacity, what does it produce? The cost per gigabyte in tape media drives and cartridge is traditionally lower than hard drives. It makes the tape the technology with the best total cost of ownership (TCO) for long-term data retention compared to other storage media. In this 2016 comparison, the TCO of the tape drives was seven times better than a hard drive. With the new formats, it will continue to increase.
A tape cartridge does not consume power
One point often overlooked is the CO2 consumption or carbon footprint that hard disk storage produces compared to the tape. The tape media drives are very efficient, with very little electrical consumption during operation. With the energy consumption of stored data growing exponentially year after year, many organizations are looking for technologies to reduce the carbon footprint by storing their data, and many are turning to tape technology for this. Some comparative data:
- 3 PB of data stored on disks consumes 18 tons of CO2 per year.
- The same amount of information on tape consumes 0.5 tons of CO2.
- Disk-based systems consume 70% more energy than tape-based systems.
- Converting 33% of disk storage to tape would save 200 million megawatts per year.
The safe and portable medium
Tape media drives and cartridges are not only profitable and efficient, but it is also one of the most reliable ways to store information and protect it against ransomware attacks or hackers. Why? The hard disks are always online, unless we disconnect the server, on the contrary, the tape cartridges are removed from the unit when the copy ends, and they are stored somewhere else offline.
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