What Are the Key Improvements in Tape Storage Technology?

Since tape storage is still providing use cases such as offline protection for ransomware, what are some key improvements in storage media technology?

About a decade ago, tape storage for backup became obsolete. Disk based backups have become popular because they provide continuous data protection and ultimately instant recovery of virtual machines. Even so, tape has never completely disappeared. In recent years, people have generated new interest in this storage medium. This is mainly because tape storage can store data offline to prevent blackmail software attacks. Even so, incorporating tape into an enterprise's data protection strategy does not necessarily mean that you have to go back to using outdated technologies. Even in today's world, tape is evolving and remains a viable option. These are three major improvements in recent years.

(1) The most obvious improvement of tape storage technology is the increase of capacity. Lto-8 (linear tape open) tape was launched at the end of 2017, and the original data capacity of each tape is 12tb. There are already specifications for lto-9 to lto-12, which will further improve the uncompressed capacity up to 192tb.

(2) Tape is also a good choice for organizations that need to ensure the security and integrity of data backup. As mentioned earlier, tapes can be stored offline to prevent blackmail software from attacking backups. However, there are other security advantages. Tape encryption has been supported since the release of the lto-4 standard. Perhaps more importantly, lto-3 enables people to think of tape as a medium that can be written once and read many times. In general, organizations can use these functions to ensure that tapes are not overwritten and that their contents cannot be read by unauthorized people.

(3) Another advance in tape storage is the use of partitions, which was first introduced in the lto-5 standard. The idea is that the tape can be divided into two partitions: one for storing the index of the tape and the other for storing the actual data. This allows the backup application to go directly to the location on the tape containing the required data without having to search the entire tape as in the past. This method greatly improves the performance.

Since then, tape has begun to support other partitions. Lto-6 and later versions support up to four partitions. This makes tape behave like disk. Managers can easily drag and drop data from the file system to tape, just like copying data to disk.

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