Benefits of storing data on tape

The amount of data stored on tape continues to grow with increases in both shipped units and capacity in recent years.

So why has the demise that some predicted not taken place?

Why store data on tape?

Storage capacity and scalability 

There is a continuing growth in the amount of data being stored by organisations. Driving this is digitalisation, especially in industries such as healthcare, banking and financial services. The range of data types being stored by organisations is also increasingly varied and may include not only structured information in databases but also vast quantities of less structured data residing in files, images, videos, and audio recordings.

Big data is of value to organisations across a range of industries and those of different types and sizes – it tends to be retained. The use of big data can help in the development of new products and services as well as improving efficiency in operations and a way to understand rapidly changing environments.

Tape is particularly well suited to the low-cost storage of big-data; where there are large data volumes but immediate access is not required. There’s no need to worry about the volume of data you need to store or back up too, as it is easy to scale the tape infrastructure by simply purchasing new tape drives and adding them to your tape library.

Tape is an adapting technology

The LTO (Linear Tape Open) technology remains dominant in the market and continues to adapt. It has a well-defined technology roadmap and is backed by HP, IBM and Quantum. The format is powerful, scalable and adaptable optimised for maximum storage capacity and performance.

The latest LTO Ultrium generation 9 specs meet the demand for protecting and archiving big data by increasing tape cartridge capacity to 18TB (45TB Compressed). It also provides multi–layer security support via hardware–based encryption, WORM (Write–Once, Read–Many) functionality that prevents editing of data after it has been written.

There is a well-defined technology roadmap, so tape is a solution that can be relied upon in the future with a published roadmap for up to Gen 12 of LTO Ultrium (up to 360TB Compressed storage capability).


With high data transfer speeds and high capacity, LTO tape is perfect for managing nearline data and bringing it online rapidly when required.

Because of the high-capacity transfer, a local data shipment from an LTO tape will often transfer data faster locally than would be possible from the cloud.

Ransomware defence

The air-gap is one of the most powerful defences against ransomware. Offline secure backups have proved invaluable time and again to prevent disaster when both live systems and online backups are subject to a cyber-attack. Tape backups stored offsite provide an air-gap solution as part of a multi- layer backup strategy. Combined with encryption and the latest WORM technology, these backups provide the ultimate defence against ransomware attack and enable the recovery of critical business data.

Long term reliability

Tape is an extremely durable storage solution with an archival life of more than 30 years. LTO tapes can support a million passes and 20,000 write cycles per tape, and they have a mean-time-between- failure (MTBF) rating of 250,000 hours at a 100% duty cycle. LTO technology also features a powerful error correction algorithm.


Tape is easy to securely transport from one place to another. This makes tape ideal as the medium for providing off-site and air-gapped backup for large volumes of data. The transfer of large data volumes over the cloud can expose files to security risks, take a long time and utilise limited available bandwidth.

Cost and sustainability

Data centres worldwide contribute hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 emissions and organisations are increasingly under pressure to manage and reduce this footprint. The constant energy use associated with disk storage has both cost and sustainability implications, particularly for long term storage.

However, data storage on tape can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 95%* compared to data storage on disks and flash. Making tape storage a much more sustainable option.

When considering the cost of your data storage, tape backups are considered a highly affordable option compared to disk or cloud backups when it comes to cost per gigabyte. Moreover, tape drives allow you to create an offline data storage, which costs less in terms of support and maintenance.


Many organisations implement cloud, tape, and local disk storage as complementary strategies in their overall backup plan. Tape is the most cost-effective option for large, infrequently accessed data sets and long-term archiving. Offsite tape backups with encryption and WORM technology implemented provide the ultimate in ransomware and cyber protection.

If you are currently using tapes to back-up your business data, or considering doing so in the future, its recommended that these tapes are stored in a secure off-site facility.

To find out more, or discuss your needs, why not get in touch?

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