Magnetic Tapes: Data Storage And Retrieval

The magnetic tapes could pass for old, obsolete and obsolete storage media. As mass memories, they nevertheless have many advantages for data backup and archiving …

Magnetic tapes, high-capacity storage media

Tapes have been used as mass storage media since the early days of computing. They allow high capacity data storage, surpassing current storage media under certain conditions.

In 2017, IBM and Sony managed to store 330 TB of data on a magnetic storage cartridge thanks to the sputtering process! By way of comparison, the best helium hard disks currently have a capacity greater than 16 TB, and SSD disks a capacity of 100 TB. But then why did not magnetic tapes supplant conventional hard disks, helium disks and SSD drives?

Share Post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on skype
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on whatsapp

Despite their high storage capacities, they suffer from disadvantages preventing them from competing with them. The magnetic tapes have a low reading speed, preventing rapid access to their data. In addition, and unlike hard disks, their nature prohibits simultaneous writing. They are thus much slower in the execution of incremental backups of several computer stations at the same time.

However, under old-fashioned appearances, magnetic tapes continue to exist: they benefit from technological developments and impose themselves again in certain computer architectures.

Server Room Image

Durability, low cost: the other advantages of magnetic tapes


Despite their shortcomings and by virtue of valuable advantages, magnetic tapes and cassettes are a natural choice in the data backup strategies of large companies. While the global volume of data stored in computer systems reached 33 zettabytes at the end of 2018, the Data Age 2025 study estimates that this volume will be multiplied by five by 2025. In the face of this monstrous growth, magnetic tapes have a precious role to play as mass memories.


In addition to their storage capacity, magnetic tapes guarantee high reliability and durability. The technical specifications of LTO tapes (Linear Tape-Open, the most widespread technological standard) thus indicate a lifespan of 30 years. Ideal for long-term backups, magnetic tapes allow businesses to meet their legal obligations for data archiving.


Their ultimate advantage is to provide a financially very attractive solution! Tapes have the lowest cost per gigabyte as storage media. Almost 10 times lower than other technologies, their cost / capacity ratio even continues to evolve. They also have a limited operating cost, including in the context of outsourced storage: requiring no electrical energy or cooling like servers and computer racks, the storage of magnetic tapes is indeed energy efficient. .

Data backup and recovery on magnetic tapes 


Saving data on magnetic tapes therefore remains widely used by companies, especially for the storage and archiving of large volumes of information: audiovisual companies generating substantial data libraries without the need for continuous access; pharmaceutical companies legally obliged to keep their data for decades; cloud solutions for inexpensive storage services (but with slow access times) for infrequent access data; etc.

Magnetic tapes also represent secure backup solutions. Kept at remote sites or cold or lukewarm emergency sites, they can integrate the PCA / PRA and facilitate the resumption of activity in the event of disasters. An effective bulwark against ransomware, viruses and computer attacks, magnetic tapes are nonetheless vulnerable to incidents leading to data loss: disasters (fire, flood, etc.), physical damage to the medium (crumpled or folded tape, etc.), incidents related to the magnetic tape recorder, etc.

In the event of a problem, our company Databack assures you of its competence in the field of recovery of data on magnetic tapes. Our laboratory is able to process existing or obsolete formats. We also carry out the migration of data from magnetic tapes to any type of storage medium or in any type of format.


148 Madison Ave 9th floor, New York

NY 10016, United States

Follow Us