There’s a lot of misinformation about there about tape and disk storage. For years now, the “experts” have maintained that tape would be dead as a doornail by now. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

First and foremost, it’s important to know exactly what you’re asking when you question disk and tape. There are all sorts of functions that take place when data is being preserved. For instance, there are backups and then there is data restoration.

In the case of a disk backup or data replication, data is send over distance using a WAN. The data is then taken to an offsite storage facility. In this case, you may wonder if this is faster than a tape backup and offsite storage.

The answer depends on a handful of factors, including the amount of data that must be moved across the WAN, the distance that it must be moved, and the overall efficiency of the WAN. It is all too often reported that the speed of a WAN is often quite slow.

If a WAN is slow and inefficient, LTO-6 tape and other leading tape backup options are the way to go. It is possible to transfer massive amounts of data in a very short timespan. Plus, when it comes to stability over time, tape has a very long shelf life.

Another thing to consider when analyzing the efficiency/performance of disk and tape is file structure. It use to be that disk ran circles around tape when users tried to access a particular piece of data or file. Now LTO tape has LTFS (Linear Tape File System), which allows for data to be retrieved much faster than it used to be.

Also, it should be mentioned that the streaming rate of tape is much faster than disk. Thus, when for long block files (such as videos) once the very first byte of a requested file is found, the transfer of the entire file is significantly faster.

As tape continues to evolve, it will be quite interesting to see how its role within the data storage system evolves.

We predict that tape will continue to grow in importance, especially as data storage systems continue to grow exponentially for organizations of all shapes and sizes.

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