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After 60 Years, Tape Reinserts Itself 312

Posted by timothy
from the sentience-from-unexpected-source dept.
Lucas123 writes "While magnetic tape is about as boring as technology gets, it's still the cheapest storage medium and among the fastest in sequential reads and writes. And, with the release of LTO-6 with 8TB cartridges around the corner and the relatively new open linear tape file system (LTFS) being embraced by movie and television markets, tape is taking on a new life. It may even climb out of the dusty archives that cheap disk has relegated it to. 'Over the last two years, disk drives have gotten bigger, they've gone from 1TB to 3TB, but they haven't gotten faster. They're more like tape. Meanwhile, tape is going the other direction, it's getting faster,' said Mark Lemmons, CTO of Thought Equity Motion, a cloud storage service for the motion picture industry."
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After 60 Years, Tape Reinserts Itself

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  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @04:37PM (#39515039) Homepage Journal

    I have twenty terabyte backups NIGHTLY. I am required to keep certain tables (files by another name) for seven years but fortunately not all of it has to be online. I have over twenty terabytes I have to have backed up each night and a specific number of these backups available both on and off site. I have copies of quarterly and yearly complete backups I have too keep.

    Show me a disk solution that is even remotely affordable. Cheap disk, maybe if you don't have any real amount of data and are not legally bound to keep it.

  • Re:Reinserts itself (Score:5, Informative)

    by rvw (755107) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @04:43PM (#39515117)

    Sure, it reinserts itself, but when it's finished does it take itself out, flip it to the other side, and then reinsert itself again?

    Like the Nakamichi tapedecks [youtube.com] from the 80s?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @05:06PM (#39515405)

    A backblaze box [backblaze.com]. 1PB for about $55k.

    ZZZZZAAAP.

    That was the lightning strike that wiped out your $55K cheap solution where you're storing the data SOX requires you to keep.

    Ooops.

    Now you get to explain to the execs who now risk jail time why you were SOOOO fucking smart.

    Sometimes it really is about covering your ass with the legally-acceptable conservative approach.

    Nevermind all the money you wasted paying to keep those disks spinning....

    Know how much electricity 50 or 100 petabytes of tape use?

    None.

  • Re:Finally!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by InterGuru (50986) <jhd@noSPaM.interguru.com> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @05:15PM (#39515521) Homepage

    "retain stuff for a VERY long time'

    What is a VERY long time. Unless tape has improved in the last 20 years, it has has an archival life of a decade or two.

  • Re:Finally!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:44PM (#39518735) Journal

    The only thing a RAID array buys you is convenience of access and the ability to store single files that exceed the size of a hard drive, so if you're just storing individual files long-term, there's no reason to merge the stuff into large RAID arrays.

    You can use a hard drive in exactly the same way that you would use a tape. Number each drive with a big, numbered sticker, and when you fill up a drive, make an index of everything on it and keep that on a drive that you back up regularly.

    So for that case, the only differences between a hard drive and tapes are A. automated indexing (maybe), B. the cost of the tape drive, C. the difference in cost between a tape and a hard drive, and D. the additional physical space that the hard drive takes up. And even the physical space isn't all that different if you're talking about external laptop drives. So it's mostly cost plus ten lines of code.

    For the giant library situation, yes, if you have instant access requirements (a TV broadcast facility comes to mind), it might be marginally cheaper to manage a library of tapes than a library of hard drives, at least for now.

  • by neyla (2455118) on Friday March 30, 2012 @03:49AM (#39520011)

    What's the lifespan of tape, if you keep it online and randomly seeking and searching 24x7x365 ?

    HDDs that are operated like tapes; "connect - dump data onto them - disconnect and store, repeat monthly" on the average have excellent lifetimes. I've done that for the last decade, with around 100 HDDs, and only twice has a drive died on me. Much more often, I've retired old HDDs because it's just not worth it to use a 150GB HDD when one with ten times the capacity cost $100.

    Offcourse random crashes will happen, but that is true of tape too. That's why you never have only *one* backup.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:59AM (#39522183) Homepage Journal

    I had a friend in the lats 1990s who, when he saw I had a computer, acrually asked "aren't you afraid it will explode?" See what happens when you can't tell fiction from reality?

    The reason that the old movie and TV shows (especially in the fifties) depicted computers blowing up was because the early computers used vaccuum tubes, which need a lot of power to heat all the filiments in all the tubes; these things had an insane number of tubes compared to any other piece of electronics.

    If there's a short circuit anywhere inside one of these antique tube monstrosities, it did in fact often go off with a loud pop and a bright flash. Short a 110v power plug and you'll see what I mean. Today's computers, being solid state, don't use more than 12v outside the power supply itself.

    That's not to say that some of those old shows weren't laughably ignorant. One episode of The Prisoner had number six making a computer blow up by asking it "why?"

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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