Backup tapes have been around for decades, and some IT managers may be tempted to abandon the ‘old’ technology for long-term storage options in the cloud. When considering whether your business should make the switch, don’t be too quick to replace tapes.

You’ve no doubt heard the criticisms of backup tape storage. Access times are slow. The tape itself and the cartridges that house it are fragile. Storage capacity is low. Compared to today’s in-the-cloud disk servers, tape is an antique. That’s what the naysayers would have you believe.

In reality, large-capacity tape today represents more than 65 per cent of all digital data stored worldwide. And advances in material design and the linear tape open (LTO) format have significantly increased how much data tape can store, how fast it can be uploaded, searched and downloaded, and how much less it costs per terabyte compared to disk-based solutions.

What’s more, due to the size of investment in tape backup equipment and tapes, it’s costly to migrate all your company’s information. Since tape remains a reliable and inexpensive means of securing your valuable business records, we recommend hybrid solutions that depend on offsite tape backup for long-term archival storage along with in-the-cloud services for backing up actively used documents that are critical to your business operations.

Nearly Error-Free, Long-Term Storage

It may once have been true that tape’s shelf life was short. That’s no longer true. Tape backup may be older technology, but continuous innovation now extends the life of tapes to 30 years. Disks used in cloud-based servers last four to eight years.

Tapes and their cartridges are more rugged and reliable than they used to be. The mean time between failure (MTBF) now reaches 400,000 hours. LTO-6 tape can store 6.25 terabytes and transfer data at up to 400 megabytes a second.1 Tape transfers more information before encountering a permanent error (bit error rate, or BER) than ever.

Tape vs. Cloud: Consider the Expense

Making the business case for tape vs. cloud storage for long-term archiving is simple:

  • The price per gigabyte is much lower for tape compared to disks.2
  • The total cost of ownership of tape systems is up to 15 times less than cloud solutions.3
  • Tape is backward-compatible, so your data recorded with earlier generations of the LTO technology can still be read and updated in many cases. You don’t need to replace your previous investment. What’s more, Recall offers data restoration services that can read most legacy tape formats, and migrate and consolidate your older tapes into your current system.

When Should You Choose Tape or Cloud Storage?

Disaster is bound to strike at some point. Storms. Fires. Intentional disruption of your business systems by a disgruntled employee or outsider. To recover quickly, and with little or no data loss or impact on your operations and customers, cloud-based services can be convenient and cost-effective.

With the right cloud solution, your data is saved automatically and safely. Because it’s transferred offsite, you can be assured your records will be available after an emergency. You’ll be able to find the records you need and transfer them whenever and wherever they’re needed to get your business back to normal. The right cloud solution, such as Cloud to Cloud (C2C), protects your critical company data stored on third-party cloud servers beyond situations where hardware failure or disasters are to blame.

C2C provides for all-in-one archiving, search and restoration of your company’s data stored on the most popular online services, including Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps and Salesforce. Having a second, secure copy of your data is always a best practice; while Software as a Service (SaaS) providers have strong disaster recovery plans, they can’t always protect you from accidental data loss. C2C enables you to recover from data loss caused by user errors and satisfies legal and compliance needs.

The Recall™ hybrid solution works locally with our backup disaster recovery appliance[CC1]  and in the cloud (cloud disaster recovery service) to provide greater protection of your systems and data.

Information is automatically stored on the backup disaster recovery appliance installed in your location. From there, information is automatically transmitted to our secure cloud disaster recovery service in remote locations. After a disaster, the appliance serves as a restore hub for everything from individual documents and files to applications. More important, our highly secure and reliable technology also enables you to better manage bandwidth by scheduling offsite data transfers and carries no risk of having unsaved backups.

The most responsible data protection strategy is a hybrid model, relying on both cloud storage and offsite tape backup. In-the-cloud services are your best solution for active records that need to be accessed in near real time for critical business operations. While the cloud is great for some of your storage needs, backup tape storage remains your best bet for bulk storage of historical and non-mission-critical data. Successful businesses count on backup tape storage to secure archival data in large volumes and at a low cost. Unprecedented improvements in capacity and access speeds, along with media life, mean tape is not going away anytime soon.



1‘LTO Generation 6’, Ultrium LTO, http://www.lto.org/technology/lto-generation-6/ (accessed 11 February 2016).

2Andrew Kish, ‘Tape: The Surprising, Smart Way to Store Digital Data’, Recall.com, 6 January 2014.


 [CC1]Link to URL for new Backup Disaster Recovery Appliance page.


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