How much LTO tape storage was shipped in 2022? Good question with a great answer. And the answer is a lot! In this BlogBytes article we will reveal how many new exabytes of LTO tape capacity were shipped. We will also examine the underlying rationale behind this impressive milestone and why demand for tape storage continues to climb. Let the fun begin!


The LTO Program issued a recent press release with details about the 2022 LTO Tape Media Shipment Report; “The report reveals 148.3 Exabytes of total tape capacity (compressed) shipped in 2022, an increase of 0.5% over 2021, and a strong result driven by continued hyperscaler and enterprise investment in LTO tape technology.” This is an enormous amount of tape storage shipping to enterprises around the world and as noted by Bruno Hald, General Manager, Secondary Storage, Quantum, “… customers continue to value LTO tape as low cost, secure, and green data storage for data protection and archiving. With a solid technology roadmap in place, and properties that address some of the top pain points today, we are excited about the future prospects of LTO tape.”


In 2022, tape shipments rose while HDD shipments declined as reported in a Forbes article. One of the influencing factors that motivate storage managers to implement tape storage is the growth of ‘cold’ archival data. Cold data is rarely accessed but must be retained due to regulatory, analytical and customer service requirements.

In the white paper, Understanding-the-Data-Lifecycle, Horison Information Strategies explains that “For the majority of data types, the probability of access begins to fall during the first month [after capture] and typically falls below 1% after 90 to 120 days of inactivity reaching archival status. Some data becomes archival upon creation.” LTO tape gives cold data an economical and secure home to reside.


Striking a balance in the storage environment to effectively preserve and access different data types while attaining security and economic goals is essential. Horizon notes that “LTO tape is the most cost-effective archive solution available given it has the lowest $/TB price and TCO of any storage option. With a media life of 30 years or more, LTO is best suited to address archive requirements among today’s storage choices.”

And of course, increasingly, TCO calculations also need to consider sustainability factors as well. That is, to embrace green initiatives in storage investments. As you know, if you are an LTO technology user, tape shines ‘green’ in the datacenter. LTO tape storage uses far less energy to store data than disk — a tape data cartridge on a shelf draws no power! In addition, as discussed in a sustainability webinar, tape storage was shown to produce less than half of the CO2 than a comparable disk system.  

Let’s take a look at what’s coming down the road for LTO technology.


In September, 2022, the LTO Program announced an update to the LTO tape technology roadmap that extended the LTO Ultrium specification through 14 generations with tape capacities expected to double with each new generation and up to 1.44 PB per tape (compressed) for LTO generation-14. Not only does the future look bright for tape storage but LTO tape has been shown to be quite reliable. In the technical paper, Proven Reliability of LTO-9 Tape Technology, the Enterprise Strategy Group explains that “With LTO-9’s uncorrectable bit error rate (UBER) of less than 10-20, it is extremely rare to see failed reads in real life, which translates to a reliability of seventeen 9s over a period of one year, whereas current similar HDDs have a reliability of only twelve 9s.”

The reliable, cyber-secure, and low cost qualities of LTO technology have made it prevalent in data centers around the world. See more about LTO storage archive attributes in this short video.