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Tape Backup Drives - Archiving with Tape Backup Drives - Common Types of Tape Backup Drives, Options Other than Tape Backup Drives

hold data tapes capacity

Tape drives as computer data storage devices have been around since the days of the old room-sized computers introduced by IBM in the 1950s. Tape drives are still today an important piece of hardware for the backup and archiving of files. Although most users are businesses, many private individuals also use tape backup drives.

Tape backup drives work much like audio tapes. Data is recorded sequentially on a reel of magnetic tape housed in a plastic case. Data storage capacity depends on the size and type of cassette used in the drive. Although newer media, such as DVD and Blu-ray discs have a greater capacity and can be written to in a random access pattern instead of sequentially, tape backup drives still provide affordable and reliable storage, especially when it comes to automated backup and archiving.

To keep up with the newer forms of media, tape backup drives have had to continue to advance with technologies that are more efficient and can hold more data. The drives themselves are connected to a computer or server either internally or externally by USB 2.0 or Firewire ports.

Common Types of Tape Backup Drives

QIC – The Quarter-inch Cartridge was used religiously until the mid 1990s. It was developed by 3M and holds 80MB to 2 GB of data

Travan – Travan technology was first developed by Imation and it is currently used in Seagate products. It is inexpensive and used by small and mid-sized businesses.

DAT – Digital Audio Tape was originally used for studio audio recording, but Sony and HP developed a standard called DDS that used DAT tapes to hold up to 20GB of data.

8mm – 8mm tapes are not common, but they are still in use. They use helical scan technology and hold 3.5GB to 14GB.

AIT – Advanced Intelligent Tape is a joint effort by Sony and Seagate to improve on 8mm technology. Each tape contains a self-contained chip to make it fast and simple to rewind and fast-forward in order to find specific data. Tapes hold a maximum of 260GB compressed.

Mammoth – Mammoth tape backup drives are used by large corporations. They are relatively expensive compared to other tape drives, but they are made for high-capacity. Tapes come in two varieties: Mammoth 2 holds 150GB and Mammoth 3 hold 625GB.

DLT – Digital Linear Tape was first developed in the 1980s. It used multiple tracks and now is used in different varieties. DLT 8000 tapes hold 40GB, while Super DLT (SDLT) holds 320GB. It is still being improved upon, and new technology is supposed to expand capacity to 2.4TB in the near future.

ADR – Advanced Digital Recording was created by Philips in 1999. It is considered one of the most reliable types of tape backup drives. Tapes hold 30GB compressed.

LTO – Linear Tape Open was jointly developed by IBM, HP, and Seagate. There is a regular format, Accelis, and a high-capacity format, Ultrium. Accelis tapes hold 50GB compressed, and Ultrium holds 1.6TB compressed.

VAXVXA was developed as an effort to increase transfer rates. It is considered very reliable and is marketed by the same company that markets Mammoth tape drives, ExaByte. Storage capacity is 160GB compressed.

Options Other than Tape Backup Drives

As technology has progressed, new types of backup drives have come to be used regularly, especially by individuals. The largest complaint against tape drives is that they take so long to archive large amounts of data. Another complaint is that tapes are not readily available and in many markets have to be ordered.

The first option that has largely replaced backup tape drives in many settings in the DVD drive. DVDs hold 4.7GB of data per disk and they are less expensive than many types of tape cartridges. It is also faster to retrieve specific information from a DVD drive than it is to obtain it from a tape drive.

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