Cassette Tapes: An Ally of Archives

One of the purposes of archiving is that it lets you look back at the changes done to a project. If the time comes when you encounter a problem, you can backtrack and see which change has caused it. There are reputable archiving service providers that offer SMS archiving software if you want records of your conversations for documentation purposes.

As far as to where these are going to be stored, there are many options. It can be on your local storage like hard drives or solid-state drives (SSDs) or on the cloud. But interestingly enough, there is a type of storage that you might think has gone the way of the dinosaurs. To understand better, you need to take a quick look back at history.

Early Computers

We’ve come a long way when it comes to archiving data. Tape drives the size of cabinets were used in the early ages of computing. These were able to hold only hundreds of megabytes. They were the first magnetic drives that would go on as the standard for home computing even to this day.

Platter drives would be developed later on. Early ones also took up a lot of space. The tape drive operates only in a linear manner. This means that the data is read as the tape strip moves, and you have to rewind it once you reach the end. The platter drive features a magnetic head that can seek anywhere while it spins quickly. Later on, the disk size would shrink. Now it is the head that moves as it seeks. This is still the mechanical design that is used on hard drives today.

SSDs

Modern computers are now leaning more toward SSDs. These have recently come down in price and are the more viable option for many. The main advantage of an SSD is its reading and writing speed. At least in the home front, users are moving away from magnetic disk storage and are now moving toward the electronic. SSDs use chips to store data, much like USB thumb drives.

But on the enterprise front, there is a demand for bigger storage. And they are turning to an old friend for the solution: the tape drive.

LTO Drives

Bigger companies need more storage space, especially the ones who are in the cloud solutions business. Their requirements could be thousands of times more than the home user. You’re looking at several thousand petabytes worth of capacity. They have to cater to their users, which they allocate at least 2 GB each.

So why are tape drives still being used? The technology being used now is the linear tape-open (LTO) drives. Where the hard drive or SSD in your computer now can hold 1 TB or 2 TB each, an LTO cassette can hold raw data of 12 TB and 30 TB of compressed data. The drives used for the tapes are expensive equipment. But for businesses, it gets more cost-effective when you factor in the amount of data you can handle. The more, the better.

While the tapes operate slower, it’s not too much of a factor for archival purposes. The aim of archiving is more of preserving the data instead of accessing it. These tapes are also expected to have a 15- to 30-year lifespan.

Who knew that cassette tapes are still being used today and at such an important function? Show respect for these humble devices, as they are helping with the preservation of data.

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