The Tape Drive

November 16, 2020 by No Comments

Multiple tape cartridges are used in conjunction with automated media handling devices for data storage and transference. More than 80% of the world’s digital data is stored on tape. Tape drives can be described as the central technology in all disaster protection architectures. The importance of tape in disaster protection and recovery is growing.

Beginnings: The tape drive has been around for more than five decades. It has been constantly evolving itself scaling new heights of technology. IBM invented the tape in the 1960 as a multi-purpose, bulky storage device. The early tape inventions can be classified into three periods:

· IBM 1360 Photostore period i.e. from 1960s

· IBM 2321 Data Cell period from mid 1960s

· Grumman Masstape period from late 1960s/early 1970s

The diverse forms of tape included reels, chips, strips, cylinders and film sheets. These tape forms were characterised by access times of less than 10 seconds and capacities of more than 100GB. However, bulky size with unreliability and high maintenance costs restricted the tape popularity in the 1970s. This changed in 1988. SorageTek invented the ACS4400 tape library. This modified existent tape drives. Tapes became the apt media for data storage and backup. It began to be widely used by commercial enterprises and personal users.


· Tapes used include 8-millimetre Exabyte VXA, Sony AIT, DLT and Super DLT LTO Ultrium, IBM-compatible half-inch 3490 cartridge, StorageTek 9840/9940 and Sony SAIT.

· Tape uses a method of sequential access to read the data or the information.

· Reliable and durable

· Physically robust with strong magnetic internal structure

Data Loss: Modern tape technology exposes certain structural weaknesses. This makes them prone to data loss.

Magnetic Internal Cavity: Tapes may appear to be sturdy physically. The interior disk cavity is sensitive to magnetic fields. Thus, tapes require high maintenance. Improper care simply leads to overwriting. Consequently, there is a massive loss of data. Hence, a user has to take certain physical maintenance precautions:

· Avoid travelling with the tape. Even if you do carry the tape, make sure it is protected. The tape must be wrapped in a protective sheath. It can be either enclosed in tissue or plastic.

· A user must not holiday with the tape. Tossing and throwing from a height should be avoided.

· The tape should not be exposed to too much light, heat and humidity. This could cause internal damage and lead to data loss. The user should keep the tape in a cool area.

· The tape should be kept away from pets.

· The tape should not be handled with greasy and oily fingers.

· For the most part, the tape should be kept in a vertical position to avid scratches and jars.

Power Surges: Tapes are intricate data storage devices. A user has to ensure that all connections are proper. The tape has to be kept in a compatible drive to avoid ESD. The user has to ensure that all connections are tightly plugged in.

Natural and Man-made Disasters: Tapes are prone to corruption and data loss through natural disasters of floods, fires and earthquakes. At best, a user can take advantage of the tape’s large backup memory capacity. Tapes can be stored in a secondary site to be kept far from natural disasters.

Man-made disasters of data theft and terrorism plague the tape more than any other data storage device. Tapes are often recycled lending them data invasion. They are cheap but usually at the price of data. Tapes do not have any kind of internal security. This makes them easy targets for data hacking.


Capacity: Tapes boast of extremely large storage options. Tape drives can store more than 50GB of data. They are also used as large apt backup media. They provide off-line storage options.

Cost: Tapes are inexpensive. A personal user has the ability to engage in proper and reliable backups of several gigabytes of data at a cheap rate. It has a low market price. Tapes allow the user cheap backup option.

Reliability: Tape is reliable and durable. It continues to operate for a short time after the tape interior heads have failed. This allows the user to save data before the entire tape corrupts. It is structured to withstand shocks and physical duress. With proper maintenance, the tape can function for a long time.

Simplicity and Universality: Tapes are convenient and simple to use. They do not require technical knowledge. Tapes are portable. They are used to the optimum in automated tape libraries.

Source by James Walsh

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