In this BlogBytes, we dispel the myths about tape, examine key factors involving storage costs and data protection features, and discuss why LTO technology is a critical element in the storage infrastructure of today and into the future.

Data storage requirements are growing….Growing….GROWING!
IDC estimates that the global datasphere will exceed 160ZB by 2025, with a 30% compound annual growth rate. This means that storage managers in small, medium and large enterprises must be prepared with storage strategies to address data access requirements, data protection needs and storage costs while staying knowledgeable about the options available to them.

In this BlogBytes, we dispel the myths about tape, examine key factors involving storage costs and data protection features, and discuss why LTO technology is a critical element in the storage infrastructure of today and into the future.

It’s a myth that tape is outdated in comparison to other storage technologies


This couldn’t be further from the truth. Tape storage has evolved into a state-of-the-art technology that addresses modern-day storage requirements. LTO tape technology is used in every industry segment including finance, distribution, science and media & entertainment. Here are the facts:

  • LTO-8 tape can store up to 30TB (compressed) per tape with a technology roadmap that shows future growth up to 480TBs of capacity per LTO tape cartridge.

  • An LTO-8 tape drive can sustain up to a 750MB/sec (compressed) data transfer rate which is up to 2.7 TB per hour of blazing backup performance per drive.

  • As noted by IDC in a whitepaper entitled Tape and Cloud: Solving Storage Problems in the Zettabyte Era of Data, “Data transfer rates are crucial when comparing RPOs/RTOs based on either cloud or on premise tape assets. Because tape drives can restore data concurrently, total data restore is limited only by the configuration of drives.”

For more details, you can read about a prominent science lab’s use of LTO tape to manage petabytes of data here.

Tape is strong enough to bear your storage needs reliably


Actually, the opposite is true. In its Tape Technology Update, INSIC noted, “One can think of Tape as an advance RAID-6 system, but instead with a very strong Erasure Code… 1 error event in 1019 user bits versus the best disk can offer which is 1 error event in 1015 user bits, meaning that tape is 10,000 times more reliable than disk based on Bit Error Rate (BER) specification.”  LTO tape, with its multi-channel storage and two dimensional orthogonal highly interleaved Error Correcting Codes (ECC) protection, helps provide outstanding data integrity.

Another aspect is the physical reliability of Tape, given its robust hardcase, a tape cartridge can be used as a safe way for transporting data whereas a disk drive has sensitive parts inside that are more susceptible to damage in the event of being dropped or hit.


The facts demonstrate otherwise. Let’s look at this in two parts:

First: let’s consider a ten year total cost of ownership (TCO) study conducted by ESG comparing an LTO-8 solution with a disk solution and a cloud solution that revealed: “The LTO-8 solution provides an expected TCO that is 86% lower than that of the all-disk solution… we estimated that the LTO-8 solution’s expected TCO is 34% of the all-cloud TCO over the ten-year modeled period.”

Second: you can use the LTO TCO tool to estimate and compare LTO tape storage costs with cloud storage costs. When considering expected charges including cloud egress and recurring cloud costs the tape solution can be three times or more less costly.

Tape is easy to use, leaving you free to focus on other tasks.


Incorrect!  With the advent of LTFS, tape is easier-to-use than ever,  allowing it to be used in a similar way to a removable disk drive. In addition, LTFS allows the use of metadata to help make retrieving content fast and accurate. Users have also found that with the implementation of automated libraries, tape has become simpler to manage with far less people than a disk environment – the tape library robots do the work. ESG’s TCO model stated that “one full time equivalent person is required for every 200 TB of [disk] data … an LTO-based data store powered by the usability of LTFS is a far more scalable solution. Many multi-PB customer [tape] environments are typically managed by a single [person].”


Beyond the myths, many people are also concerned about the security and integrity of their data. Protecting data from cyber attacks and from natural disaster is top priority for organizations of all sizes. Online disk and cloud data are susceptible to attacks from cyber criminals as well as threats as a result of system errors or natural disaster. IDC’s tape and cloud whitepaper highlights why tape’s offsite and offline air gap capabilities are one of its core strengths: “Moving tape offsite can ensure data survivability … it requires little to no management while providing an inherent air gap that prevents malware infection.” When a tape cartridge is removed from the drive, the air gap makes it inaccessible to the system and cyberattack. That’s not all; LTO technology has the ability to secure tape data with AES 256 tape drive encryption.

Disk, cloud and tape can be complementary and co-exist to help an organization manage and balance its objectives to make data available and secure and cost-effective. A storage environment on premise or in the cloud that includes LTO tape technology can be better equipped to control costs and protect data assets.