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10 Reasons Why Tape Is Still Alive and Kicking for Data Backup and Restore

by   in Portfolio

In the ever-changing world of data storage, a surprising comeback is happening: backup-to-tape solutions are making a major resurgence. Once considered a dinosaur, tape is back in the game, attracting the attention of businesses looking for reliable, scalable, and cost-effective data protection. This revival is due to several factors, including the inherent durability and longevity of tape media, its ability to handle massive data volumes, and its resistance to cyberattacks. As businesses struggle to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of data storage and recovery, tape emerges as a compelling solution, with a proven track record and a range of advantages that modern data backup and restore technologies struggle to match.

At OpenText Data Protector, tape has always been an integral part of our DNA, woven into the very fabric of our product since its inception. We have a rich heritage of over 30 years of experience managing tape backups for enterprise customers, ensuring the integrity and accessibility of their critical data.


  1. Cost-Effective Storage:

Tape storage emerges as a highly cost-effective solution when compared to disk alternatives for backup purposes. Firstly, tape's superior storage density allows for housing substantial amounts of data in a compact form, minimizing the physical space required for storage infrastructure. Unlike disk solutions, tape's efficiency in storage density remains consistent regardless of the deduplication ratio of the appliance, providing a reliable and predictable cost structure. Moreover, tape systems often incur lower software licensing costs compared to disk-based solutions, Data Protector is offering tape support as a part of the more basic licensing mode, the Starter Pack, but I will deep more on it later in the article.

Secondly, tape storage systems contribute significantly to cost savings through lower electricity consumption. The inherent nature of tape technology, with offline storage when not in active use, contrasts with the continuous power requirements of disk-based systems. This energy efficiency not only reduces operational costs but also aligns with sustainability initiatives, making tape an environmentally conscious and economical choice for long-term data backup and restore solutions.

Looking ahead, the only constant in the realm of backup is the exponential growth of data. This escalating impact significantly influences the costs associated with cloud or appliance-based backup solutions, as expenses tend to surge in tandem with expanding data volumes. However, the beauty of tape storage lies in its remarkably stable cost structure, regardless of the data's exponential growth. Notably, an LTO-9 cartridge, a staple in tape technology, remains economically consistent at just $30 per unit. This predictability and affordability make tape storage an increasingly attractive option, providing organizations with a reliable and cost-effective means to manage the ever-expanding landscape of data in the most financially prudent manner.

  1. High Storage Density:

The remarkable storage capacity of a tape library employing LTO-9 tapes underscores the forefront of data storage technology. Boasting a native capacity of 18 terabytes per tape and an impressive 45 terabytes in compressed form, LTO-9 tapes offer an efficient solution for managing expansive data. Notably, with a standard Starter Pack license of Data Protector, support is included for a library featuring 1 drive and 60 slots. Crunching the numbers, this configuration allows for a maximum storage capacity of up to an astounding 1.08 petabytes, reinforcing the scalability and cost-effective nature of LTO-9 tapes in meeting the evolving needs of data storage for modern enterprises… and you still can off-load cartridges from the library, so the increment of capacity can grow to infinite, to infinite and beyond.

  1. Security and Offline Storage:

Tape stands out as an outstanding solution for safeguarding against ransomware attacks due to its unique features and capabilities. With physical write-once, read-many (WORM) capabilities, tape provides an immutable and tamper-evident backup, rendering it impervious to ransomware threats seeking to alter or delete data.

Even if you unknowingly backup a hidden Zero-Day, it slumbers peacefully on the tape. This offline haven prevents the ransomware from encrypting your backups, leaving you with a clean, pre-attack copy waiting to be restored. And the best part? When you bring that data back online, modern security measures will easily catch the slumbering threat before it wreaks havoc, making recovery a breeze.

Additionally, tape drives inherently perform encryption by default, and encryption keys can be seamlessly managed either by Data Protector or a dedicated appliance, enhancing data security. Tape libraries offer the flexibility of partitioning, allowing for organized segregation of backup sets for added protection. Moreover, DP's capability to manage object copy jobs facilitates the movement of backups to diverse locations, further diversifying the storage landscape.

For the ultimate air-gapping strategy, an offloaded tape remains unparalleled. Implementing a 3-2-1 backup policy for robust protection is simplified with tape, and the reassuring notion of having a tape cartridge under one's pillow symbolizes the straightforward yet effective security that tape brings to data protection.

  1. Long-Term Data Retention:

Tapes stand as the optimal choice for long-term data retention, primarily owing to their unparalleled longevity, durability, and energy-efficient attributes. With a lifespan that far exceeds that of traditional hard drives, tapes provide a reliable solution for archiving data over extended periods. Their robust construction ensures resilience against environmental factors, offering durability that surpasses other storage media.

Significantly, tapes require no energy consumption when stored offline, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective option for organizations aiming to minimize their carbon footprint and operational costs. As a timeless and low-maintenance technology, tapes represent an enduring cornerstone for secure and energy-efficient long-term data preservation.

  1. Reducing Carbon Footprint:

Industry experts, expect continuous annual data growth rates of anywhere from 25 to 45% through the end of this decade, and this exponential grow promotes a remarkable surge in data center growth, driven by the world's escalating digital connectivity and dependence, because data centers are energy intensive.

So, we have more and more data every day, but, is this data highly used? The answer is No, experts says that data goes cold and becomes archival after 90 days, and the probability that a restore is requested after this period is really low.

Landmark studies by industry expert Brad Johns show that automated tape libraries consume 87% less energy than equivalent amounts of hard disk drive capacity and over their lifecycle from cradle to grave produce 97% less CO2e and reduce e-waste at end-of life by 85%.

This is not a joke, tape libraries can be more energy-efficient compared to large-scale disk arrays, especially for infrequently accessed data. If you want your children to have a world to live in, use Tape Drives.

  1. Plan for the future:

LTO technology has impressively progressed over the years from 100GB native capacity with LTO-1 tape to the latest LTO-9 technology, which has a massive capacity of up to 18 TB native and 45 TB compressed.

The LTO Ultrium roadmap shows purchasers of LTO tape technology that there is a clearly defined path for future LTO technologies which in turn protects their investment in the technology.

According to IDC data, the magnetic tape market grew at robust 10.5% in 2021, driven by the needs to defend against ransomware, store large volumes of data at low-cost, as well as data centers pivoting to ‘green’ technologies, for a dead technology, (as disk appliance vendors are marketing), it seems to have a roadmap that is in fantastic health.

  1. Reliability:

In the ongoing debate over data storage reliability, the resounding answer to whether tape surpasses hard disks is a definitive yes. At the core of this assertion lies the sophisticated technology of LTO, employing advanced Error Correction Code (ECC) mechanisms at two levels (C1 and C2). This technology ensures an incredibly low bit error rate of 1 in 10-19 bits, making LTO approximately 10,000 times more reliable than hard disks and 1,000 times more reliable than Solid State Drives (SSD). Moreover, the 30-year lifespan championed by LTO surpasses the longevity of enterprise hard drives, with real-world anecdotes showcasing a 98% data recovery success from tapes over 50 years old.

The discussion extends beyond error correction capabilities to highlight the operational robustness of LTO, with 300 full-file passes, 20,000 short-section durability passes, and 20,000 load and unload cycles. In contrast, enterprise-grade hard drives exhibit an annualized failure rate of 1.37% over six years, emphasizing the enduring reliability of LTO cartridges. As the digital landscape evolves, LTO technology stands as an indispensable guardian of long-term data preservation, outshining its competitors with unmatched reliability and resilience.

  1. Compliance Requirements:

Many industries and regions have regulations that mandate data retention for specific periods. Tape backup offers a reliable and cost-effective solution for long-term archival storage, exceeding even the lifespan of most hard drives or cloud storage contracts.

WORM tape shines in compliance settings thanks to its tamper-proof nature. Data written to WORM tape becomes immutable, unable to be deleted or altered, providing an irrefutable record for audits and investigations. This aligns perfectly with regulations requiring long-term retention of sensitive data, like HIPAA or SEC 17a-4 or GDPR. Plus, its air-gapped isolation further boosts security against cyber threats, preventing remote manipulation. While slower to access than online options, WORM tape offers unparalleled longevity and cost-effectiveness for long-term archival storage, making it a crucial tool for organizations navigating strict compliance landscapes.

  1. Efficient data transfer:

Tape drives can transfer data at very high speeds, making them ideal for backing up large amounts of data. Assuming a 2.5:1 compression, LTO-9 specifications support tape cartridge storage compressed capacity of up to 45 TB, and tape drive data transfer rates of up to 1000MB per second for 3.6 terabytes of storage performance per hour and per drive.

So all you need to do is to provide the necessary bandwidth to your tapes to avoid the shoe-shinning effect and you will outperform any storage appliance, Data Protector can help you with with its inherent multiplexing and multistreaming capabilities.

Multistreaming lets you use all of the available tape devices on the system by splitting backup jobs into multiple jobs using all available tape devices. As a result, it will increase the overall backup throughput compared with the sequential method making possible to use all the tape drives in parallel.

Multiplexing refers to a technique where multiple backup streams from different clients are interleaved onto a single tape. This process allows efficient utilization of tape capacity and optimizes the backup operation for those systems that can’t feed sufficient bandwidth to the tape drive.

As they used to say in the NASA at early 70’s: Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.

  1. Hybrid Approaches: One ring to rule them all.

At OpenText Data Protector, we believe in providing our customers with the flexibility and versatility they need to protect their data seamlessly. Our solutions not only leverage the power of tape for secure, scalable, and cost-effective data protection, but also enable the natural and efficient movement of data to other destinations, such as disk, deduplication appliances, or any public or private cloud. This approach ensures that businesses can tailor their data protection strategies to meet their specific needs, whether they require short-term data retention or long-term archival.

Most organizations might adopt hybrid backup strategies that combine both tape and disk-based solutions to leverage the benefits of each. Do not let disk appliance vendors to use the well-known Framming Effect bias to draw a different conclusion about tapes. Be sure that all the major Cloud vendors are using tape as a key component of their internal backup strategy.


Despite the technological advancements in data storage, tape remains a cornerstone in modern backup architectures. Its reliability, cost-effectiveness, and longevity make it an invaluable asset for organizations seeking secure and scalable backup solutions. Tape's robust error correction mechanisms, impressive lifespan, and efficient storage density contribute to its continued relevance in safeguarding critical data. As an integral component, tape not only complements disk and cloud-based solutions but also offers a tangible and reliable medium for long-term data retention, making it a key player in the evolving landscape of data backup and restore strategies.

By providing our customers with a comprehensive range of data protection options, we empower them to make informed decisions about how to safeguard their critical data while optimizing their IT infrastructure costs.


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