Tape backup – Has Sony raised the dead? (With infographic)

tape backup infographic blog image

Well, good work Sony.  And just when we thought the ‘is tape backup dead?’ argument had been resolved once and for all with a resounding yes.  Why is a black or white answer never an option?

If you were keeping an eye on backup related news at the beginning of last month, you may have heard about Sony’s success in creating a tape reel capable of holding 185TB.  That’s no typo… terabytes.  Seriously.  This tape-backup miracle was achieved by combining an enhancement to a scientific technology called sputter deposition with what we can only assume is black-magic and the result is in excess of 148 gigabits per square inch of magnetic tape.  We just got a shiver.

Okay, so tape backup has been revived as an all-powerful zombie that breakfasts on the brains of all other backup destinations, right?  Well, maybe.  Sony’s wonder-tape looks great on paper: it has a storage capacity equal to 3700 Blu-ray disks, or 30 of the world’s highest capacity HDDs, or more than 5 of the previous record-holding tapes.  It’s composed of magnetic particles measuring a frightening average of just 7.7 nanometers.

But does this really mean that tape backup is back as the destination of choice?  If you happen to be Google or the NSA and you need to backup personal data for all 7 billion people, then maybe. However for all other intents and purposes, let’s be honest – probably not.

Remember all those reasons you stopped using tape backup?


The sad fact is that mind-bending storage size aside; all the familiar old problems with tape backup are still hanging around like the proverbial odor.  Sequential storage is what makes babies cry.  Tape backup’s dismal restore time is why bad things happen to good people.  The ease with which magnetic tape can be physically compromised is the cause of war and famine.  Okay maybe we’re getting a little carried away, but our point is there are problems with tape.  Where’s your science now, Sony?

To put the whole tape backup situation into some easy-to-digest perspective, here’s an infographic about what Sony’s new wonder-tape means for your backups.  Is tape dead?  Let’s find out… with pictures!

Tape Backup Infographic

Want some more info?  Here’s an overview about using tape backup with BackupAssist, and here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of tape vs disk.  Happy reading.

Have your own thoughts on Sony’s use of tape backup necromancy?
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