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Data backup is not a new concept for businesses. The idea of backing up crucial data using technology has been here for generations. Tapes are some of the leading techniques organizations have used to store their critical information since the ‘60s. From then, tapes have endured all manner of technological revolutions and advances to remain a relevant storage alternative. Not even the cloud revolution people assumed could immediately wipe it out has eliminated it.

Now, the question lingers, is tape-based backup dead? What about all the “obituaries” doing rounds on the Internet that tapes are dead? We examine the validity of the recent hype around tapes, with many articles saying that they are dead. Remain with us to discover the truth and benefit from our 365 backup solutions.

What Is Tape-based Backup?

Defining and understanding how tape-based technology works give us a better approach to sieving the facts from the myths in sponsored “obituaries’” some tech zealots promote.

Tape-based backup is a technology that involves the storage of information on a tape cartridge or cassette in a digital form. To date, organizations still use this technology for storing their crucial data for long-term use in offsite locations. Mostly, they store their essential information that doesn’t require regular access or modification. They copy these data to gain stable archives and complete their information recovery when their primary storage devices are destroyed or lost.

Tapes became the most stable storage form for businesses and other organizations from the ‘60s to the ‘80s when hard disks emerged. Although hard drives gave tapes stiff competition, they didn’t obliterate them. Thus, they remained a suitable option because of their:

  • Greater reliability;
  • Longevity;
  • Reliable portability.

So, why do some business owners erroneously hold that tape-based storage is no longer viable? Why are businesses shifting from them as their primary backup media to other options? Keep reading below to learn why organizations are shifting to other primary storage platforms.

Why are Organizations Shifting from Tapes?

We have already established that the “obituary” to tape-based storage is a premature announcement with no valid proof. The facts are that companies aren’t shifting to other storage media because they are dead, no. In fact, some of the world’s largest technology companies still maintain them in their storage strategies. Thus, the shift is not per se a death penalty. Instead, it’s a tactical diversification that helps them to minimize risk. Thus, the shift is not a vote against tapes but a smart hedging move for their precious data.

They Want to Save Costs

Many small businesses shifting from tapes do so to minimize the overall cost of installing and maintaining tapes systems. For instance, a tape system needs you to invest in tape drives and robotic hardware that require staff to maintain. However, most tape technologies support compression capabilities that could as well lower operations costs.

They Want to Minimize Risk

These companies also want to minimize their data risk levels. Please note that moving away from tapes doesn’t, in any way, eliminate risk because data threats are everywhere, starting from the cloud to disks! For instance, one might argue that sending a tape from or to an offsite location could be riskier. However, doing the same over the Internet is equally risky because hackers can intercept your information.

They Want Simplified Operations

Lastly, companies are shifting from tapes because they want to simplify their operations. For instance, they want to reduce manual operations such as cleaning, importation, and exportation.

Why Do Some Business Owners Believe That Tape-based Storage Died?

The three main reasons for shifting from tapes don’t in any way render tapes redundant. So, why do people believe in this popular myth? Here, we examine some of the popular fallacies doing rounds on the Net. Just take a look at some of them.   

It’s Easier to Substitute Them

First, sponsored and biased content has succeeded in making many innocent people believe that all the other backup technologies that followed tapes were meant to replace them. This “replacement” myth has convinced them that other technologies such as disks and cloud can eliminate tapes. While most small businesses do not appreciate the advantages of using these tools, larger ones do.

For instance, these storage devices have salient capabilities that remain relevant today. They are excellent tools for retaining large files for long-term usage. Moreover, they can store more data, not to mention that they are the best-suited tools for transporting data between systems because they are smaller and portable. Don’t forget that tightly controlled sectors keep large data chunks for regulatory reasons. Additionally, many players in such industries aren’t comfortable hosting such sensitive information on shared cloud networks.

People Don’t Know How It Works and Its Advantages

People erroneously believe that tapes are dead or should die because they have never understood how they work and their benefits. The facts are that most of the “anti-tape” crusaders are novice tech zealots who want people to migrate to the cloud overnight and blindly. These sellers are smart enough to brand any business with tape storage as “barbaric” and “anti-technology” even when it’s evident that tapes are still a technology!

They are Barbaric

Others believe tapes are irrelevant because they want to appear “tech-savvy” and shed off the “old school” tag. They fail to look at issues maturely and appreciate that modern storage technology has only redefined tapes’ place in their overall data backup strategy. Modern businesses don’t need tapes as their primary storage option. However, they still need them as a better archiving option, especially when dealing with large data chunks.

In fact, balanced businesses should see tapes as complements to their backup strategies. Tapes come in handy in consolidating their cloud or disk storage.

Tapes Aren’t Effective

Lastly, some enterprise owners believe tapes are dead or must die because someone told them that they are ineffective. However, the truth is that tapes’ offline abilities make them a very secure and reliable buffer against prevalent online attacks. Moreover, they are safe from internal manipulation and hackers because you securely store them offsite.

Dead or Dying?

So, where does the truth lie? Are tapes dying, or are they dead? The truth of the matter is that careful observation of trends shows a decline in their usage as a primary storage medium. However, it’s premature and inept to conclude that they are dead. If you doubt, you should take time and consult IBM to find out why it unveiled a 225 TB cartridge in its R&D lab. Looking at these events and developments from such a tech giant should ring a bell in your ears.

These developments mean that tapes are still a viable archiving option for big business. They are obsolete just because your small business doesn’t need them. Reasoning that way could mean that businesses don’t need human resource managers just because your small enterprise doesn’t need one!

Based on the presented evidence, we can conclude that tapes are declining in their use as primary storage tools, and their relevance in business is changing. With no objective evidence of their obsolescence or removal from widespread use, we conclude that tape-based media of data storage still have their specific applications and will continue serving the data backup and replication needs in many scenarios.