Skip to main content

Tapes or Hard disk drives, which one is better?

George Ou, Techrepublic's resident Technical Director, asks his readers whether Tape Backup systems are obsolete or not. Backing up data is one of the most tedious and time consuming jobs in the world of IT, he reckons and we agree with him.

George did compared a top of the range Tape backup system, the HP Storageworks 1/8 Ultrium 960 Autoloader, with a hard disk equivalent version made up of unnamed hard disk drives.

He found out that one would need more than 56 tapes in order to break even, that's more than 20TB or 20,000 GB, which is a massive amount of storage. Tape Autoloaders are not easy to manage and maintain and they are not cheap either.

The model under review can actually accommodate only eight tapes and has to be daisy-chained in order to offer higher capacities.

In contrast, hard disk drives (HDDs) are less demanding when it comes to support and management. HDDs are fundamentally non linear storage devices as compared to drives, which means that you can back up and recover your data faster than tapes.

There are still Tape aficionados out there but just like the audio cassette, it is inevitable that tape technology will disappear in the long term.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.