this article been written a decade ago, magnetic tape would have
featured far more prominently. A tape drive is a data storage device
that reads and writes data stored on a magnetic tape. It is typically
used for off-line, archival data storage. Magnetic
tape has been used for data storage for over 50 years. Tape has
historically offered enough advantages in cost over disk storage to
make it a viable
product, particularly for backup, as the tapes are portable and
However, the use of tape
drives has been reducing partly because of other formats, and the
slow access speed. Whilst access times may be poor, the rate
of continuously writing or reading data can nevertheless be very quick.
Many companies continue to rely on tape to backup their data.
This is because costs are low bearing in mind the storage capacity
and the reliability of magnetic tape. In some situations they can be
more convenient than a hard disk and hold
much more storage than optical discs.
Tape backup systems exist targeted at home users needing to
personal data, and for backing up large amounts of storage for
archiving and disaster recovery purposes in a large enterprise.
above is the HP StorageWorks LTO-4 Ultrium 1840, an example of a
high end tape drive. The drive supports SuSE Linux, Red Hat Linux and
other distros. It features storage of up to 1.6TB per cartridge,
256-bit encryption, and real transfer rates of approximately 100
MB/sec. Therefore, whilst tape drives are perceived to be incredibly
slow, good hardware can ensure that backups are completed without a
reduction in performance. However, this tape drive is very expensive,
but there are much cheaper tape drives that still offer good
Linux has a great selection of backup software for tape
drives. For console fans, mt and tar provide an easy and reliable way
backups. Users seeking more comprehensive functionality can
look to open source software such as BackupPC
or the proprietary Arkeia Network Backup suite. The latter
supports over 150 different platforms, and virtually every tape drive
and tape library, as well as cloud storage options. Arkeia has also
released a no charge version which is available for Ubuntu.
Another factor to bear in mind is that tape media has good
- Optical Discs
State Storage (next page)
Last Updated Sunday, December 13 2009 @ 10:07 AM EST