Magnetic Tape Storage Technology Ushers In A New Breakthrough

- Aug 28, 2018-

About a decade ago, tape storage for backups was no longer popular. Disk-based backups have become a hit because they provide continuous data protection and ultimately virtual recovery of virtual machines.

Even so, the tape has never completely disappeared. In recent years, people have become interested in this kind of storage medium. This is mainly because tape storage can store data offline, preventing attacks by ransomware. Even so, incorporating tape into an enterprise's data protection strategy does not necessarily mean having to go back to using outdated technology. Even in today's world, tape is constantly evolving and still a viable option. This is the three major improvements in recent years.

(1) The most obvious advancement in tape storage technology is the increase in capacity. LTO-8 (Linear Tape-Open) tapes were introduced at the end of 2017, and each tape has a raw data capacity of 12TB. LTO-9 to LTO-12 already has specifications, which will further increase uncompressed capacity up to 192TB.

(2) Tape is also a good choice for organizations that need to ensure the security and integrity of data backups. As mentioned earlier, tapes can be stored offline, preventing ransomware from attacking backups. However, there are other security advantages. Tape encryption has been supported since the release of the LTO-4 standard. Perhaps more importantly, LTO-3 enables people to view tape as a medium for write-once and multiple-read. In general, organizations can use these features to ensure that tapes are not overwritten and that unauthorized people cannot read their content.

(3) Another advancement in tape storage is the use of partitions, which was first introduced in the LTO-5 standard. The idea is that the tape can be divided into two partitions: one for storing the index of the tape and the other for storing the actual data. This allows the backup application to go directly to the location on the tape containing the required data without having to search the entire tape as in the past. This approach greatly improves performance.

Since then, tape has begun to support other partitions. LTO-6 and higher supports up to four partitions. This makes the tape behave like a disk. Managers can effortlessly drag and drop data from the file system to tape, just like copying data to disk.



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