With all the information present on personal and business computers, it’s important that all their data is somehow backed up in the event of a crash. Tape drives, one of the oldest data storage devices out there, store computer information on a magnetic strip of tape to archive information from the device. The tape is a gum pack-size, malleable, celluloid-type material which can be both read and erased. It is typically protected by a plastic cover to avoid damaging the actual tapes. They are either built into the computer or used externally and are available in several sizes, starting in the 20-80 GB range for individual users to terabytes for servers and bigger computer networks. They are typically used as a last resort storage option in order to back up data including files, folders, drives, and more.
Once inserted into the drive, a tape is prepared to restore or back up any data you might need on your computer. The software that the tapes use is user friendly and the tapes can offer backup when your computer is not in use, which is incredibly helpful. Their many benefits include their massive storage capacity, affordability, longevity, security, and portability, among several others.
Some tape drives are rewinding while others are non-rewinding, but they all share something in common: to get to a certain point in the tape, you must first view all the preceding data. This sequential access limitation makes the VHS system too slow for ordinary use today, but at a certain point in history, it was groundbreaking. Another downside of tape drives is that they are manually-operated, which means that the old tape needs to be replaced with a new tape from time to time as storage becomes limited. Without a fresh tape, the drive cannot make a backup. The backup process is lengthy, sometimes taking hours to finish. Despite these drawbacks, tape drives are one of the safest data backup methods.
In the 1950s, the first tape drives were put to use. Cassette tapes and Video Home System (VHS) tapes were commonplace by the mid to late twentieth century. People growing up during this period were the stars of their parents’ home made videos. Families were documenting their many milestones, celebrations, and other significant events in their lives on cameras and video recorders, then backing them up onto tape drives that could be replayed from start to finish whenever it was desired. Despite their slow processing speed as a result of being sequential-access devices, tape drives are still used today for secondary and tertiary types of offsite backup and are known to be the most cost-effective choice if you’re looking to store data for a lengthy period of time. They’re also more durable than HDDs and protect against security threats that storage systems like the cloud are more susceptible to. This is because they can’t be hacked, as the tape contents are not in contact with the drives that read and write them. Though floppy discs, CDs, flash drives, and clouds have since taken off, tape drives are reliable and secure.
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