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After 60 Years, Tape Reinserts Itself

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the sentience-from-unexpected-source dept.

Data Storage 312

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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firsty posty (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39514949)

haha

Sci-Fi is Reel again (5, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 2 years ago | (#39514951)

Once again, Reel-To-Reel computers are no longer anachronistic in 60's Sci-Fi shows.

Re:Sci-Fi is Reel again (5, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515001)

Once again, Reel-To-Reel computers are no longer anachronistic in 60's Sci-Fi shows.

But... but... they must have the blinkenlights!

Re:Sci-Fi is Reel again (4, Funny)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515327)

And blow up with explosions, even if there is nothing remotely explosive stored around or within them.

Re:Sci-Fi is Reel again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515411)

Uh, 1960s computers certainly had the capacity to explode, or at least catch fire. There's a reason you could buy small Halon fire extinguishers in the '80s, after big iron started retiring.

Re:Sci-Fi is Reel again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515459)

The secretary needed self-destructing tape to deal with the Mission Impossible teams. It was added to all the tape orders for some reason.

Re:Sci-Fi is Reel again (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515645)

That's bureaucracy for you. One size fits all. Same logic as with the military underwear.

Re:Sci-Fi is Reel again (2)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515633)

The first place I worked had an enclosure decorated with strands of randomly blinking christmas lights. It was a piece of equipment that I didn't know what it was used for. I think I was there a year before someone explained to me that it wasn't functional and had not been in operation for almost a decade.

Reinserts itself (5, Funny)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 2 years ago | (#39514963)

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?

Re:Reinserts itself (5, Funny)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39514975)

Only if you get the Mobius tape, which costs extra.

Mobius tape (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515005)

Not to be confused with Moby Grape, though it is from the same era.

Re:Reinserts itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515003)

Let's keep this discussion family-friendly...

Re:Reinserts itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515261)

Meh. My cassette deck can take two tapes at once!

Re:Reinserts itself (1)

erikvcl (43470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515099)

If it's a Nakamichi RX-505, then yes.

Re:Reinserts itself (4, Informative)

rvw (755107) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:Reinserts itself (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515195)

My Pioneer reel-to-reel deck auto reverses and has forward and reverse play heads.

Re:Reinserts itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515649)

Yeah, the RT-707 or RT-909? Heads are way too soft, where do you get new ones? And where do you even get the metallic leader and splicing tape these days?

Re:Reinserts itself (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515255)

Yeah if my parents had one of those when I was a kid, it would have been broken from overuse. I can't see that thing in action ever getting old.

Re:Reinserts itself (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515163)

Flipping tapes? Where have you been, dude?

We have this new technology called 8 track!

Re:Reinserts itself (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515175)

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?

:P TFS suggests so:

Meanwhile, tape is going the other direction

Re:Reinserts itself (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515349)

Only if you have a Really Awesome Tape Robot [youtube.com] .

Re:Reinserts itself (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515507)

Reinserts itself

not where i thought you were going with that......

Re:Reinserts itself (2)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515579)

Actually, most people who use tapes in an Enterprise environment use tape libraries that will shuffle the tapes around like a juke box.

This one holds 48 tapes [ibm.com] . quote - "The TS3200, featuring Ultrium 5 tape drives, has a capacity of up to 72 TB native (144 TB with 2:1 compression)."

Tape. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39514973)

It's sticky stuff!

You know who else likes to reinsert themselves? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39514991)

Fagets. Haha, insert. Fagets.

Re:You know who else likes to reinsert themselves? (-1, Offtopic)

jpl (58317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515045)

Fagets. Haha, insert. Fagets.

I don't get it. Motorcycle bikers like to insert themselves?

Re:You know who else likes to reinsert themselves? (0)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515595)

If you insist on posting this drivel to every thread, can you at least spell "faggots" correctly?

Homophobia, racism, f***t p**t, we can ignore - But poor spelling??? DIAF, dude.

Finally!! (3, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515023)

I've missed my tape drive! My TR-3 1.6/3.2 circa 1996, was plenty for the hard drives available at time and pretty much a requirement for Windows 95 considering how often it killed itself, but within just a few years the hard drives far exceeded the capacity of tape. Fortunately by then Windows 2000 was out and life has been good since.

I'd love to use tape again, but with 1.5/3.0TB drives selling in the $1,500 range [google.com] it still doesn't make sense, not when I can buy a dozen 2TB hard drives for the price of one 1.5/3.0TB tape drive [newegg.com]

Re:Finally!! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515115)

I'd love to use tape again, but with 1.5/3.0TB drives selling in the $1,500 range [google.com] it still doesn't make sense, not when I can buy a dozen 2TB hard drives for the price of one 1.5/3.0TB tape drive [newegg.com]

Right, and if all you need is a few dozen drives, it's probably not worth it. Let's talk when you need to backup 12 TB every night and you can only recycle the tapes yearly. Two drives and 1800 tapes is cheaper than 1800 drives, and until convinced otherwise I believe the tapes will take the time in storage with a better chance of coming back to life.

Tape isn't for days of storage, it's for archival.

Re:Finally!! (1, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515277)

Right, and if all you need is a few dozen drives, it's probably not worth it. Let's talk when you need to backup 12 TB every night and you can only recycle the tapes yearly. Two drives and 1800 tapes is cheaper than 1800 drives, and until convinced otherwise I believe the tapes will take the time in storage with a better chance of coming back to life.

Tape isn't for days of storage, it's for archival.

And... how many people, need that? To store 12 TB nightly? Few thousand businesses, perhaps? Not even your super-geekiest nerd is storing 1,800 tapes a year.

There was a time when you could easily purchase a computer designed for home or SOHO usage with a tape drive. Not anymore. Tape has pushed itself out of the SOHO market and into corporate world only. You can't even buy a tape drive in stores anymore, and no wonder when a 72gb drive costs $600+ [officedepot.com]

Tape is still dead. Long live hard drives for storage... or the cloud [slashdot.org]

Re:Finally!! (3, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515417)

And... how many people, need that? To store 12 TB nightly? Few thousand businesses, perhaps? Not even your super-geekiest nerd is storing 1,800 tapes a year.

Well, of course - Pretty much nobody needs this for home use. But you're forgetting that, beyond those several thousand businesses, there's also the government. We have to back up nightly and retain stuff for a VERY long time. And the government, in case you haven't noticed, is big. And we have to back up everything, even if it's completely redundant it has to be a complete snap-shot. We use tape here because, for our needs, it makes practical and financial sense. I realize that most people don't associate government with being practical or financially responsible, but every once in a while there's a sensible nerd who can make a pretty chart with colorful lines representing $$ spent that's able to persuade the powers that be.

Tape's not dead, it just has limited situations where it makes sense. Home is rarely one of them.

Re:Finally!! (3, Informative)

InterGuru (50986) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515521)

"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!! (3, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515587)

> Unless tape has improved in the last 20 years, it has has an archival life of a decade or two.

Bit of a shame that tape drives are generally only compatible within a couple of generations of the same tape technology.

LTO, for instance, mandates that the tape drive is able to read and write tapes of its own generation and the one immediately before it, and read tapes two generations back. Which means that an LTO4 drive is not mandated to be able to read an LTO1 tape.

Re:Finally!! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515729)

Even if you are the sort of outfit that has the money to spend on these ungodly expensive tapes, drives, and robots you're still probably putting spinny disks in between. Your most likely recovery scenario is going to be from spinny disk.

You would be doing it for the same reason that individuals are far more likely to put their own backups on disk. It's fast, cheap, and random access.

The tape is there just to check off a box on a compliance form.

Re:Finally!! (1)

CaptainLugnuts (2594663) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515821)

If I could rent a drive cheaply a day at a time every six months or so to do major backups I'd love to use tape at home. I don't need a tape drive kicking around all the time but it would be nice to have full backups on tape for emergencies. Day to day backups go on HDDs.

Re:Finally!! (1)

toutankh (1544253) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515525)

And... how many people, need that? To store 12 TB nightly? Few thousand businesses, perhaps?

I'd guess universities and research institutes around the world also have a need for "that". I would also be happy if some public administrations did reasonable backups too. Doesn't change the order of magnitude you mention though.

Re:Finally!! (1)

lloydsmart (962848) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515541)

Sure, because 640K ought to be enough for anybody, right? ;-)

Re:Finally!! (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515719)

The problem is that a 1.5 TB tape costs $50 and were it not for the flooding in Thailand, a 3 TB hard drive would cost under $80 like they were last year, which means that you never break even with tape cost-wise no matter the volume.

And then there's the added inconvenience. When lots of desktop computers come with a 3 TB hard drive and your tapes only hold 1.5 TB apiece, that means that even home machines are split across multiple tapes. This means the $1500 bare tape drive isn't enough to back up even a home computer. You'll need that $5,000 tape library instead.

Also, I wish people would quit calling LTO-6 an 8 TB drive. It uses only a 3.2 TB tape, which is too small to even back up hard drives that were shipping three months ago (4 TB) without compression. So the product that they haven't even started shipping is already hopelessly out of date, just has been the case for every consecutive generation of tape drive for at least the last ten years. Even more amusingly, the tape industry keeps creeping up in their estimates of compression. It used to be that their best-case capacity estimates assumed 2x compression. Now it's 2.5x. They're trying to look like they still matter, when in reality, they're falling further and further behind the hard drive industry. If it provided 8 TB uncompressed, I would consider buying one (assuming the tape price were under a hundred bucks a tape), but tape drives will really only be interesting to me if they actually get out ahead of peak hard drive capacity by enough of a margin that the tape drive will still be able to back up an entire machine in less than three or four tapes after a few years. Otherwise, they will never make sense unless you're backing up terabytes per day.

It's a shame, too. I really liked owning a tape drive back in the late 1990s. The big difference is that my computer at the time was five years old and had a small hard drive, so I was able to buy a used tape drive for under a hundred bucks that would back it up onto a single tape that cost me ten or twelve dollars. The difference between that and a $1,500 drive with $100+ tapes is not small.

For big, institutional setups where you're backing up terabytes per day, tape might still make sense, but only because hard drive prices are temporarily high and because storage space has a nonzero cost. For folks with more realistic daily data deltas, they're way too expensive, way too small, and for all practical purposes, completely irrelevant already. It's going to take a lot more than being able to back up 3/4ths of the current top-of-the-line hard drive per tape before tape will make sense again.

Re:Finally!! (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515815)

Right, and if all you need is a few dozen drives, it's probably not worth it. Let's talk when you need to backup 12 TB every night and you can only recycle the tapes yearly.

Realistically, I have had a larger home file server than the entire corporate NAS/SAN at my last few jobs. And not talkin' about four-person mom-n'-pop shops here.

And yet, they all insist on using tapes for backup. Drives me up a wall to see the inefficiency.

After two years at my previous job, I finally convinced the head of IT to cycle through a handful of hot-swappable eSATA HDDs instead - After we had an actual serious crash and found tape after tape after worthless tape of complete unrecoverable garbage (despite never hearing a peep about corruption from the backup system). It took less than a week before I got to play the hero when we could recover a VP's "oops"ed spreadsheet in under a minute (as opposed to a day's work just to realize we had no viable backups).

Tapes may count as a "safe" industry standard, but anyone using them really needs to reevaluate their business needs. They definitely do have their strong points at the very highest end, but the standard "weekly backup with a nightly incremental" ain't one of them.

Re:Finally!! (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515303)

I've missed my tape drive! My TR-3 1.6/3.2 circa 1996, was plenty for the hard drives available at time and pretty much a requirement for Windows 95 considering how often it killed itself, but within just a few years the hard drives far exceeded the capacity of tape. Fortunately by then Windows 2000 was out and life has been good since.

Those were the days [spacious-mind.com] , with that annoying sound of the cassette player [mainbyte.com] loading your program.

Oh God! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515413)

I've missed my tape drive! My TR-3 1.6/3.2 circa 1996, was plenty for the hard drives available at time and pretty much a requirement for Windows 95 considering how often it killed itself, but within just a few years the hard drives far exceeded the capacity of tape. Fortunately by then Windows 2000 was out and life has been good since.

I'd love to use tape again, but with 1.5/3.0TB drives selling in the $1,500 range [google.com] it still doesn't make sense, not when I can buy a dozen 2TB hard drives for the price of one 1.5/3.0TB tape drive [newegg.com]

Now we have hipster geeks?!

Tape never died or lost its supremacy (5, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515039)

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:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515197)

Not to mention the power-hog factor of backup to disk. Also, tape never even thought about losing its supremacy in the mainframe world where even disks are accessed via tape drivers and some voodoo magic.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515249)

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

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515447)

Do you really think lightning strikes are something new? This is a solved problem. Try again troll.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515499)

Do you really think lightning strikes are something new? This is a solved problem. Try again troll.

You covered 1 out of 4 points.

In anything but baseball - where you'd be a crappy .250 hitter - you'd be an utter failure.

Yet you're probably proud of yourself.

Making you a deluded utter failure.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515783)

Crash.

That's the sound of the truck carrying your backups getting in a car accidently, lighting on fire and destroying your tapes.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515317)

You have way too much porn.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515441)

is that 20TB new data? if not id recommend looking into a de-duplication solution and cut that way down.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515623)

Clearly you know nothing of regulatory compliance if you think simple and obvious solutons have anything to do with it! (BTW, tape backup was incremental decades before "de-dup" ) You're require to store what you're required to store, and making any kind of damn sense at all doesn't enter in to it.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515801)

...or perhaps this idea of taking incremental backups, at least some of the time.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (1)

bheading (467684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515465)

People who think tape is better because it's so cheap probably have not done their homework.

Reliability is a major factor. Tape is delicate. If you put your tape in storage how can you be sure that it will restore again correctly when you try to reuse it ? How can you be sure that whatever tape drive you're using by then will work ?

Disk backup is becoming common not simply because of cheap commodity disk drives, but because the software has improved so much as well, with technologies like ZFS and the similar technology included in the high end disk arrays from places like EMC or (especially) NetApp.

Deduplication keeps the data volumes down. You can't deduplicate tape backups, although some places sell a system which keeps deduplicated disk backups online and streams them out to tape offline.

With disks, you can RAID them together, with ZFS you even get triple parity RAID, and if you want to be really paranoid you can mirror that RAID array to another site. Tape can't do that.

With a decent array you can run regular scans and scrubs. You'll get early warning for failing disks, you can repair any corrupted sectors by reconstructing from the parity and you can rebuild entire disks onto hot spares when one fails. Tape can't do that either. And because of that resilience, and the random access capability, it is no longer necessary to do regular full backups, you only have to keep the incrementals. Typically, it usually works out - especially when combined with deduplication - that you need less than 1.8 times the amount of storage space to keep a month of backups.

When the disks get old and you can't replace them, you can migrate all the data and all the backup copies on them to a new array.

A decent pair of mirrored disk arrays not only acts as a backup, it can also act as a disaster recovery system. Since it can be a block-for-block mirror of your main disk array, if the building burns down and takes your main array with it, you just flick a switch on the backup array and it'll take over until you get a replacement.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515743)

One thing you learn quickly when dealing with "legal requirements" is that reality has nothing to do with them. Is tape considered "legally sufficient", as long as you store it correctly? Then it IS sufficient, provided you store it correctly. Whether you can actually restore or whether you cannot.

Why? Because all that matters is whether or not you get fined when you cannot restore your data. Not whether or not you can actually restore it.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515751)

When was the last time you heard of a bank, credit card company, airline reservation system, etc losing data because of bad backups? Never? All of that stuff is backed up on tape. Tape backup systems have been making multiple copies of tapes, and periodically testing the tapes, and getting them offsite (in very cheap storage) for at least 4 decades.

From my experience, the number of disks that would not spin up after sitting unused for a long period far outnumbers the number of tapes that were unreadable after the same period of time. Which means you need to keep the disks spinning, which is doing nothing but wasting power.

Of course, disk backup certainly also has it's uses, primarily as disaster recovery like you said. But store 10 years of credit card transaction logs (which will seldom, if ever, be looked at) on spinning disk? You'd be insane to think that would be cheaper or better than tape.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515773)

Reliability is a major factor. Tape is delicate. If you put your tape in storage how can you be sure that it will restore again correctly when you try to reuse it ? How can you be sure that whatever tape drive you're using by then will work ?

Tape is incredibly reliable - if that tape worked the day you made it (which somehow people never learn to check, despite every major backup software product supporting doing that automatically). Some times tapes and tape drives fail in use, just like disks. But once that tape is stored, it's good for a couple of decades (depending on format, of course, low-end tape sucks).

You just can't beat the reliability of not being on. Every /.er should know why RAID is not backup - just delete a file and see. Copying and storing snapshots from time to time is OK, if you're sending that data to another building, but by then you're often using big-box disk storage, priced at about 40x what you'd pay for the same drives at Fry's (really). Tape is damn cheap compared to that.

Disaster recovery is a different story, but even then you also want tape backup as it's far safer against deliberate insider malice.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (2)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515841)

LTO tapes have between 15 to 30 years of life if you're using them for archival purposes (i.e. writing once and storing). Even if you're using them for daily backups in a weekly or two-weekly rotation you're probably going to get 5 to 10 years of life out of a tape.

I've had both RAID1 and RAID5 systems crash and burn ("proper" RAID, not cheapo-RAID) and have to be restored from the tape back up. I've also had tapes fail (although being LTO, they were picked up by the built-in write-verify procedure). But that's kind of why you don't rely on one thing to protect your data if you really care about it.

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (1)

lloydsmart (962848) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515655)

Seven years... Pharmaceutical data?

Re:Tape never died or lost its supremacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515775)

TSM / ProtecTIER (I know of a local company backing up over 400TB / night through TSM / ProtecTIER).
Netbackup / Puredisk
Avamar / Data Domain

Backups aren't supposed to be cheap, once you get past 2-4 TB / night... Welcome to the real world.

This interests me (1)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515043)

I used to have a tape deck in my PC 20 years ago for backup, but I always thought the tech pretty much died, but now I'm curious, I have 3TB of storage in my current PC and I haven't quite been able to afford the hard disks to fully backup everything, but if tape is so cheap and fast (for sequential writes anyway, which is all that's important here), is it readily available for home backup use?

heheh, I could start using tar (Tape ARchive) for what it was originally intended for.

Price, price, price... (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515171)

I used to have a tape deck in my PC 20 years ago for backup, but I always thought the tech pretty much died, but now I'm curious, I have 3TB of storage in my current PC and I haven't quite been able to afford the hard disks to fully backup everything, but if tape is so cheap and fast (for sequential writes anyway, which is all that's important here), is it readily available for home backup use?

Yep, price is the key here. I also had a tape drive 20-ish years ago (QIC-30, I think, with 60GB per tape cartridge). Nowadays, I find it hard to beat the external USB disk for backup. Our main server at home has 6TB of disk, and backs itself up regularly onto 3 cheap 2TB USB drives which are attached to it. Since these USB drives cost only a bit over euro100 each, they are duplicated with the other copy cycled out every few weeks. What would be the comparable price for tapes (1 drive, at least 2 copies for backup)?

Re:This interests me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515225)

No, the drives cost to much. Tapes are cheap but the drives are $1500 new $1000 used. I would suggest rsyncing to another machine.

Re:This interests me (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515305)

The tapes themselves are cheap. The drives that use them are not.

Woot! (0)

m.dillon (147925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515051)

Just in time since 60TB hard drives are just around the corner. ...

Oops.

-Matt

Re:Woot! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515319)

Why not make it 100TB? Or 500? Since you can keep wrapping tape around a spindle, lets make it a few hundred petabytes and use it as a spare wheel for the motorbike. Tape serves a purpose for certain jobs, for others it's completely useless. HDDs are far more capable than tape in many ways, but their market is different. Ultimately tape will go the way of the dodo, as will HDDs, and in the meantime we use the best fit for the task at hand, factoring economics into the equation.

Like many articles on slashdot, this one seems to be a mixture of misinformation and flamebait.

Re:Woot! (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515389)

Well, RAIDs of that capacity are certainly not unheard of.

Cheapest? (2)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515053)

Perhaps the medium is, but the related technology that makes the medium useful isn't. The drives can run thousands of dollars, and require specific technologies on the servers. On top of that you need software to run it, AND competent backup admins that can handle it.

Not that disk based solutions are significantly better, but they certainly have the ability to be significantly less complex ( which is always a good thing ).

Re:Cheapest? (1)

johanwanderer (1078391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515169)

With LTFS making data compatible between different vendors' hardware, we can now hope for cheaper, non-branded drives. I'm hoping in a few years I'll be able to afford my own Grandfather-father-son [wikipedia.org] backup scheme for data at home.

Re:Cheapest? (1)

johanwanderer (1078391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515325)

Maybe that's obsolete, too :) at least these guys at StoragePipe [storagepipe.com] would like to think so.

Re:Cheapest? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515335)

RTFA. LTFS - made possible in LTO5 - allows you to mount a tape like it's a disk. No need for specific software.

Re:Cheapest? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515429)

Perhaps the medium is, but the related technology that makes the medium useful isn't. The drives can run thousands of dollars, and require specific technologies on the servers. On top of that you need software to run it, AND competent backup admins that can handle it.

Not that disk based solutions are significantly better, but they certainly have the ability to be significantly less complex ( which is always a good thing ).

The costs of SSDs start to look quite good when you're dealing with long-term preservation of a lot of data too. Yes, the storage cost itself isn't wonderful, but the fact that it is small and dense and solid state and able to be safely kept online (instead of having to physically move it about) greatly cuts the cost and risks of it. There's some interesting work [lockss.org] going on in this area, and the answers being arrived at are often not at all intuitive.

Speaking of sigs (1)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515529)

--
Ever notice how people remember posters by their sigs and not their names?

I had to laugh at this. Only because I can think of two sigs I see here often "I changed my web server to port 6502, long live CPU wars" and "Windows is like the faint smell of piss in a subway" but I couldn't tell you their names.

Cassette (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515065)

Does that mean this stack of cassette tapes is now "in" again? Alright!! "Moving Pictures" on tape FTW!! Where's my WalkMan...?

Media compatibility between multiple vendors... (1)

johanwanderer (1078391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515097)

... is huge! Now even a home user can have a tape robot for back up without worrying to be tied to a specific vendor. Well, maybe... but I can dream :)

Re:Media compatibility between multiple vendors... (1)

johanwanderer (1078391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515131)

I should have said data compatibility. Media has always been compatible.

Tape is the new DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515105)

When nobody wants to buy their movies they can put them on tape.

Re:Tape is the new DRM (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515471)

Jack Velenti, is that you?

Seek times... (2)

TheSimkin (639033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515113)

Tape storage capacity is great, and the streaming speed is also great. but the seek times are ridiculous. This is why tape is dead to me. If I want to restore a single 1gb file from a 800gb tape.. it could take a very long time. If i want to restore a single 1gb file from a hard disk it is pretty much instantaneous.

Re:Seek times... (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515209)

It takes 2-5 minutes. Hardly ridiculous. I usually told people 15 minutes unless I had to request the tape from off-site storage. Plenty of time to finish my coffee, wrap up my current task, etc. If I did half a dozen restores in a year, that was a busy year for restores. If you're restoring single files from tape on a regular basis, someone's doing it very, very wrong.

Re:Seek times... (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515289)

I use a system that does backups first to DASD, then to tape. Restoring a file from tape takes maybe 5-10 minutes, including the time waiting for the robot to mount the volume. Hardly a 'very long time'.

Re:Seek times... (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515419)

Depending on how the data is written (with nice file marks), you can forward the tape fairly quickly. Sure, copying it from a hard disk is pretty quick, but the idea of tape archives are just that - archives. Don't expect to use it as extra storage like a hard drive.

Um, no (3, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515127)

'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...

Hmmmm, sounds as if you're selling something...

1) Big drives are still random access, tape isn't.
2) Faster moving tape is more prone to catastrophic breakage than slower moving tape. (Although both are way more prone to The Bad Thing (TM) than disk drives are.
3) Azimuth alignment between ostensibly "identical" tape drives -- hilarity ensues.
4) Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

Re:Um, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515355)

Also, disk drives *have* gotten measurably faster in both sequential transfer rate and random access time due to increased areal density. The platters are still 3.5" but the area of the platter needed to store, say, 1GB has decreased. Therefore there is less physical distance to spin or seek to read the same amount of data. That's why your average 3TB drive will beat your average 1TB drive on performance tests. See this recent review of the 3TB Hitachi 7K3000 [techreport.com] .

Time to find my old C64 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515139)

TB tapes? Makes my Commodore 64 look mighty nice.

finally, von Neumann complete! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515357)

Does it really have to actually be an infinite tape?!!
What if it's just long enough that it would take the machine the whole lifetime of the universe to read the whole thing?!!

Reality Check: (3)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515167)

Tape never died. It was still used for a lot of large applications.
It's just that for some things, disks got cheap enough and reliable enough to displace tape.
Part of that was the tremendous resources put into disks with the explosion of consumer use.
High capacity tapes were a much smaller market and one that could support high cost. It looks like tape is just catching up.

I for one welcome our huge cheap tape library overlords! ;)

seamless access ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515231)

So you can navigate the tape seamlessly from Windows --- no seams just lots of waits.

Sometimes I long for those days of 7Gb/tape DLT with those very nice 7 bay changers. Worked great until the front of the tape got scrambled up ....

Cost of LTO-5 Drives (2)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515247)

LTO-5 Drives are $2000-$3000. Even though the tapes are comparatively cheap, you're still stuck with rubber bands driving a flywheel turning the spools.
And if you are waiting for cheap Chinese knock-offs... well good luck with that. I'm not convinced that consumer's are going to be that good at keeping the tapes safe, magnetic free and away from the cat/dog/monkey peeing on it.

Re:Cost of LTO-5 Drives (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515661)

You won't see any cheap Chinese knock-offs in the west for two reasons:

1. Patents.
2. Cheap chinese knock-offs are only cheap if they're being made by the million. Which it's vanishingly unlikely would happen with a tape drive.

Tape is still here because its cheap (1)

Squeezer (132342) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515275)

An enterprise quality LTO-5 tape drive is $1000, and tapes are $100 each. Compare that to an enterprise disk-to-disk backup solution that is $15000 for the hardware and another $5000 for the software. If you are in a business that is only open 8-5, meaning you have a large window to do backups on nights/weekends, which do you think your boss will make you go with?

All about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515293)

Yes, It all about technology. Its true that one time tapes take a great effort, but see things are changing day by day, peoples are become updated. So that's why they need something that much of upgraded device... I think that's why magnetic tapes are being replaced. Thanks

medieval times dallas coupons [medievalti...oupons.net]

Yeah, but... (1)

ebinrock (1877258) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515311)

...tape still jams and breaks. Every audio cassette I've ever had has done so. RIP.

Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515341)

(hard drives) haven't gotten faster. They're more like tape. Meanwhile, tape is going the other direction, it's getting faster.

So if it's like tape, isn't it also getting faster? Who's the smart-ass now, Mr. I-have-a-product-to-sell?

How else does one back up 20TB of personal data? (3, Interesting)

slaker (53818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515353)

About a year ago, staring at never-ending rsyncs between four boxes containing ~12TB of data apiece, I decided that it would be cheaper and easier for me to move to tape rather than continually duplicate data across RAID5 volumes and hope I never have a disk failure and a hard error on any of the remaining drives. I managed to get a Quantum Superloader (LTO4) and a dozen tapes for about $1600. There has been a learning curve with the setup, but there's just no other practical way to deal with tens of terabytes of information.

I was able to move to a single storage machine and switch off a bunch of noisy, hot, power-hungry systems. I was glad to make the switch and I wish I had done it sooner,.

Disk is cheaper (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515359)

It looks to me like disk is not that much more expensive than tape. A 1.5TB LTO-5 blank tape is $52.58 [amazon.com] , or $35/TB. A 4TB USB drive is $229.00 [bhphotovideo.com] , or $57/TB. For backing up 8TB of fileservers at my job, I prefer USB drives. I can just bring them over from the server room and plug them into my laptop if I need to look back in time.

HDD speeds (2)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515379)

Over the last two years, disk drives have gotten bigger, they've gone from 1TB to 3TB, but they haven't gotten faster.

Technically they get faster every time the density increases, as there is more data passing under the head in a certain time and, it takes less travel to seek over a certain amount of data...

Fast? maybe. Reliable? Ehh.... (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515403)

they are still hit or miss, I have had tapes become corrupted during the writing process, during a recovery process, and who knows about those tapes that have been stored offsite for 5-10 years. I hope they are recoverable. In any case It much easier for me to write to a NAS or SAN and have it replicated off site, then it is for a sequential tape recovery from an off site location.

Need Something For Home Use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515543)

All I want is a cheap home solution like QIC tapes used to be. Back when big hard drives were still less than a gigabyte, it was relatively painless to make not just one but several backups of your data and feel safe. Now that we are in the terabytes, there is no such comfort. Moving data disk to disk doesn't give me much solace. Leave it running and it will eventually die. Turn it off and it may never spin up again. Yes, tapes can fail too but that's why you make lots and lots of them, if you can afford it.

Tape is a last resort (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515679)

Tape is a terrible thing to rely on. When you're backing up to a medium that has less reliability than your primary data storage, you have already failed.

Multiple Data Replication + Bit Rot Monitoring is the only thing that serves as a remotely reliable backup solution. Either from good cloud storage (e.g. Amazon S3) or through various more traditional non-cloud solutions (really the preferred option IMHO) from various vendors.

Amazon provides a 99.99999999999% SLA on data integrity for data stored in S3. Tape backup data integrity averages about 60%.

I would never use tape backup in this day and age.

Not real surprising (1)

doston (2372830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515753)

Hard disk prices are up 20% since the Thai Tsunami, SDD prices are coming down, but are still too high for mass adoption. Tapes just seem like a primitive solution, but hard drives aren't really any more amazing, if you think about it. The movement is just hidden, but it's still movement and it's still a bit clunky. We should all just hang our collective head in shame. :)
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