Magnetic tape data storage is one of the oldest forms of technology used for storing digital data, offering many advantages such as high storage capacity and low unit cost. However, as with any storage service, you’ll want to weigh up the pros and the cons, which is why we’ve put together this guide highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of magnetic tape storage.
Advantages of magnetic tape storage
Magnetic tape storage is considered one of the most reliable, inexpensive and high capacity forms of storage on the market. The plastic components it’s built with, and the way that the data is recorded, help to make it durable and secure for a long period of time. Read on to find out the top five advantages of magnetic storage.
1. Long life and reliable
Magnetic tape storage has been proven to have a lifespan of over thirty years, making it ideal for long term backups. It also has a low likelihood of error and malfunction when stored in the correct environment, making it even more reliable.
This type of storage has been trusted as the standard go-to technology since the 1950s, and its advantages have continued to evolve with the times. No wonder businesses still use it as their main form of long term storage or archival.
2. High capacity storage
One of the biggest advantages of magnetic storage is that you can store massive amounts of data compared to conventional storage technologies. Magnetic tapes can hold anywhere between 1 to 15 terabytes of data per tape in a compact format, making them great for long term storage such as the archival of system backups that includes large files.
When compared to other storage media such as hard drives, tape storage has the lowest unit price per volume. This is a massive advantage if you’re planning on investing in backing up your entire system, as magnetic tape storage is likely going to be the cheapest option.
Additionally, we refer to magnetic tape storage as a ‘non-volatile’ method of storage in the information management industry. This means that it doesn’t require electricity when in storage, and no data is lost if you remove the power to it, making it the best choice for permanent storage of data.
4. Data security
Magnetic tape stores data offline, lowering risks such as data loss or theft. The data can only be accessed through specialist equipment, making it less prone to malicious software or viruses. Many businesses opt for offline magnetic tape storage for this reason alone, helping to prevent criminal use of their current and historical data.
5. Reusable memory
Magnetic tapes can have their stored data erased and still provide functionality for more years of storage. This makes them incredibly convenient when thinking about storage over a long period of time.
Disadvantages of magnetic tape storage
As with any form of data storage, magnetic storage comes with a number of fantastic advantages, but there are also a few disadvantages you might want to consider. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Requires maintenance
Magnetic tape needs to be handled with care and kept clean, much like any piece of valuable technology. It’s crucial that tapes are stored in a clean and controlled environment, where dirt, dust and any other types of airborne pollutants can’t contaminate the tape. They also require more maintenance, including:
- Avoidance of heat such as strong sunlight or radiators
- Avoidance of contact with water
- Maintained at a regulated temperature (18-21 degrees)
- Maintained away from technology such as televisions, microwaves or heavy machinery
- Maintained at the same orientation
- Ensuring care when transporting and handling
By keeping magnetic in a regulated environment, any damage to the tape and the data stored on it will be avoided. For example, with our off-site tape vaulting services, all backup tapes are housed in a state-of-the-art vault featuring precise controls for temperature and humidity.
2. Susceptible to damage
Although reliable when kept in a controlled environment, magnetic tapes can be at risk when it comes to fire and water damage. Due to the physical structure of the tape, it can be incredibly susceptible to stretching, tearing and damage that’s caused by exposure to heat or water. Similarly, external debris such as dust can scratch the tape and cause slow data retrieval.
3. Needs specialist equipment
Unfortunately magnetic tape storage does require specialist equipment to transfer data onto the tape, and for data to be recovered from it. The specialist equipment is called a tape drive, and an efficient one can be incredibly expensive for a company to invest in. This is why most companies looking to store data on magnetic tapes look towards a specialist service provider such as Shredall SDS Group.
Why back up your data magnetically?
With the correct care and maintenance, magnetic data storage can be one of the best methods for long term storage of data, offering a cost effective, high capacity and data secure solution to all businesses. However, when it comes to off-site data storage, it’s best to outsource the job to a reputable storage company with the experience and expertise to support you.
Shredall SDS Group leads the way in document storage, including off-site backup tape storage. Our purpose built secure media vault is fire and flood-resistant, and only accessible by our DBS-checked staff to ensure the safety of your data. We also offer full tracking, cost-effective collection and delivery.
Our secure and efficient storage services have earnt us the reputation as one of the UK's leading tape storage companies. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help your business with data storage.