Tape Storage’s Resurgence for Unstructured Data

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It’s not necessarily devolution when you choose to go back to an outdated technology, although many people will be absolute in their thinking that it is. But there are plenty of instances where the way it used to be ends up working better, and often when new operating realities change the game. This can be true if we look at it from the perspective of data storage where companies are doing what everyone else is doing – that is, choosing to locate most of that data storage in the cloud. Now if we were to collectively lose our minds and revert back entirely to physical storage, that would be devolution.

Where we’re going with this is that some physical storage means are making a comeback, and for plenty good reasons. Tape storage for unstructured data is one example here that’s really at the forefront these days, and naturally anything related to data storage will be relatable for us here at 4GoodHosting or for any good Canadian web hosting provider. We’re always attuned to the need for data storage security, and it’s a priority for us in the same way it is for many of you.

So that is why we see tape storage’s ongoing resurgence as being at least somewhat newsworthy and we’re making it the topic for this week’s entry. Let’s get into it.

Obsolete? Not so Fast

The fact that a record 148 exabytes of tape was shipped last year definitely indicates that tape storage has not become obsolete at all. In fact, a recent report is showing that LTO tape saw an impressive 40% growth rate for 2021. The reason for this is many organizations are attempting to cut costs related to cloud storage when archiving their unstructured data. And while only 105EB of total tape capacity was shipped during the pandemic in 2020, the amount that was ordered for 2021 broke a new record.

What we’re seeing here is organizations returning to tape technology, seeking out storage solutions that have the promise of higher capacities, reliability, long term data archiving and stronger data protection measures that have what is needed to counter ever-changing and expanding cybersecurity risks.

Increasing prevalence and complexity of malware is a contributing factor too. Irreparable harm can come from an organization having its systems infected with malware and the potential for harm is nearly the same as when data is locked following a ransomware attack. It’s true there are many well-established ways a company can be proactive in defending against the latest cyberthreats, but at the same time tape storage prevents sensitive files and documents from being online to begin with.

Air Gap is Key

We’re also seeing many businesses and organizations turning to LTO tape technology for increased data protection in response to surging ransomware attacks. The key component in it that makes it superior and effective is an air-gap which denies cybercriminals the physical connectivity needed to access, encrypt, or delete data.



Also of significance in all of this is the 3-2-1-1 backup rule. You’ve likely never heard of that, so let’s lay out what it is. It means making at least three copies of data and storing them on 2 different storage mediums. And then with one storage location off site and another one offline. LTO-9 tape also makes it easier for businesses to store more data on a single tape because of its increased tape storage capacity that can be as high 45 terabytes when compressed.

As a last note promoting this type of storage for unstructured data, his medium also has the advantage of being backward compatible with LTO-8 cartridges in the event that any organization still needs to work with existing tape storage. It certainly is nice to have options, and sometime what is now old may be a better fit than what is newer and has replaced it.


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