Sony's new cassette tape technology can fit the amount of three Blu-Rays onto a square inch of tape

No, you do not have to be some kind of hipster to use cassette tapes. Even though mainstream cassette tape usage went the way of the Dodo bird, companies all over the world still use the old technology as a means to backup their data. Many servers use cassette tapes because of their reliability, and long shelf life. They are increasing in storage capacity with Sony's recent announcement of a tape that can hold 148GB per square inch, which is 185TB of storage per cassette.

According to Gizmodo, Sony uses a vacuum forming technique which is named sputter disposition to make a layer of magnetic crystals by firing argon ions onto a polymer film substrate. This packs the crystals, which are about 7.7 nm on average, more densely than any other process used before. This will mean big things for companies that still use cassette tapes as a means for backing up data, because the storage of a square inch of tape is equal to about three Blu-Ray discs. 

Although this technology was not meant for mainstream consumption. It is meant for industrial-sized, long-term file backup because the corporate field isn't bothered by the slow write times of tapes, and looking back to find files through yards of tape is a non-issue, unlike how consumers expect to use backup solutions now. Even though this seems like a minor announcement to consumers, it will prove to be huge for many companies. 

Source: ExtremeTech via Gizmodo | Image via DoobyBrain

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IF time is not a issue tape is great. but if time is a issue the tape is not a useful . and please keep in mind the amount of data you are backing up .. for us we are backing up 3 tera and this takes over 12 hours to write to tape . so we backup to disk then to tape redundant yes but but then time to write to tape does not become a large factor ...

I think this really highlights the differences in computing needs. Certainly, I'd rather use tape for backups and archiving than CDs, DVDs, or BR. Plus, for mass storage? How lousy are upload speeds? That's an obstacle - most of the time backing up to a tape is faster than uploading, and restoring will be faster than downloading.

Granted, doing both is pretty awesome if you can. Gotta do incremental backups for that, though.

Well I see many scenario's where it wont be. Imagine transferring tons of data from company to company. Either carry dozen or hundreds of LTO tapes, 4 months of internet transfer or just take 1 of these.

Sony love proprietary formats for some reason and almost always lose out on it. They're losing so much money, yet continue with these foolish ventures, which is just more money down the drain. With losses of $1.3 Billion posted for the first quarter, they can't afford to do this type of thing

This as a standalone format will be listed as yet another glorious failure from Sony, along side Betamax, MiniDisc, MemoryStick, ATRAC etc. If they used this tech to enhance the existing formats then they would surely be onto a good thing, but that's not the Sony way.

IBM are apparently already working on something of similar capacity, which will be backwards compatible.

Yeah, another failure like CD, 3.5" FDD, 8mm-Hi8, and BD.

Where do you think the "existing formats" came from? One company often invents it, then gets others to sign on to use it. Enough companies join in and it becomes a STANDARD.

Beta was quite successful in the professional world. MiniDisc was used pretty much everywhere except the USA.

But don't let facts get in the way of a good 'ol Sony bashing.

-T- said,
.... Betamax ....

This is still used in the television industry.

Betamax was technically superior to VHS, but VHS had a better licensing model.
Betamax is Linear scan, VHS is Helical scan. That's what makes it better, you can stretch the tape and it's still playable.

deadonthefloor said,

Betamax is Linear scan, VHS is Helical scan.

Actually I'm almost certain they are both helical scan. Also Beta being superior is kind of a myth. When it was first introduced it did indeed have slightly more lines of resolution than VHS but this was only because it ran at a faster speed resulting in the tapes only being able to record one hour of video, making them useless for movies. When Sony introduced 2 hour tapes to compete with VHS they had to lower the speed and resolution to match, so at this point the picture quality was the same for both of them. VHS had pretty much won the market by this time though.

Offsite LTO.... They are the backups I'd bet money on, everything else is useful and has its place (HDD/NAS/Cloud), but if it hits the fan give me a full LTO backup please....

patseguin said,
I realize it's probably only for backup, but if the speed was good a single cassette could replace my NAS.

From what I've read the latest LTO drives are actually faster than hard drives at writing data. I don't know about this Sony format but I really doubt it will take off. LTO Ultrium is pretty well entrenched and it's an open standard, something Sony has never been good at.

I'd stick to using NAS for onsite storage\quick access, and use tape for archival\off-site storage.

For instance, our backups here are saved onto a dedicated SAN for backups (>25tb, can't tell you exact number). We can store about 30 - 35 days worth of backups on disk, and our nightly backups are roughly 5-6 LTO5 tapes which are then collected by a off-site data housing company (Recall). Very rarely do I need to restore something from tape, however I have had to do it.

Where I used to work, they had an entire room dedicated to old media backups. Reel to Reel, DAT, DLT, SuperDLT, LTO1 - 5. It was a nightmare if we had to restore data 20 years old (market research company). It was one thing to have the tapes, it was another thing to have a working drive and system to read them!

Seeing how Sony is having a rough go at it they're going back to their old playbook and coming up with yet another storage format, now with DVD and BD sales diving faster than expected might as well try at the higher end and hope you can gain something.

Dot Matrix said,
"Many modern servers..."

I have yet to be inside a modern data center that does. Where do you get this "many" from?

Many backup servers use tape.

I see it all the time. I work in networking and security and visit many customer sites and tape backups are nothing out of the ordinary. You may not have been taught it at school but in the real world they're very common.

Dot Matrix said,
Not sure where you guys work, but I have never seen tape backups. Hell, where I go to school, we're not even TAUGHT this.

Dot Matrix said,
Not sure where you guys work, but I have never seen tape backups.

Well it's good enough for Google and Amazon anyway, if size matters to you. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft uses them too. Surprised your school misses some big fundamentals like that. Pretty commonplace in a datacenter.

Dot Matrix said,
"Many modern servers..."

I have yet to be inside a modern data center that does. Where do you get this "many" from?

Lots of companies use them. If you warehouse tera and petabytes of data (many industries do) chances are you will be using tapes.

Max Norris said,

Well it's good enough for Google and Amazon anyway, if size matters to you. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft uses them too. Surprised your school misses some big fundamentals like that. Pretty commonplace in a datacenter.

The data centers I've visited, and have learned from all use HDD based servers for backup. RAID is a big fundamental in our learning. Not once has tape been mentioned. Quite frankly, I would never go near it. It doesn't last as long as digital media.

Dot Matrix said,

The data centers I've visited, and have learned from all use HDD based servers for backup. RAID is a big fundamental in our learning. Not once has tape been mentioned. Quite frankly, I would never go near it. It doesn't last as long as digital media.


1) RAID and backups are not the same thing.
2) Tape is a digital media.

Dot Matrix said,
Quite frankly, I would never go near it. It doesn't last as long as digital media.

Hrm. Think you need to read up on how this stuff actually works. LTO cartridges can last ~30 years. (And *psst* it's digital too.) And again, Fortune 500 companies and other major datacenters quite often rely on tape. Maybe you should send a mail to Google and tell them how they should be doing their backups since they obviously don't know how to run a large datacenter.

Tape is used when an off-site backup is necessary. A lot of times companies are required to keep backups at another location in case a flood or fire or meteor destroys the datacenter, they can then just use the tapes to recover. It's a lot cheaper than petabytes worth of cloud storage.

Dot Matrix said,

The data centers I've visited, and have learned from all use HDD based servers for backup. RAID is a big fundamental in our learning. Not once has tape been mentioned. Quite frankly, I would never go near it. It doesn't last as long as digital media.


Tape is also digital... And as others have said, it is still very widely used and probably will be for quite a while for the low cost, reliable benefits it provides. Word of advice from someone who studied IT and business and entered the industry: Don't rely only on what you're school teaches you...

Edited by Chsoriano, May 5 2014, 3:04am :

Dot Matrix said,
"Many modern servers..."

I have yet to be inside a modern data center that does. Where do you get this "many" from?

How many data centers have you personally been in, because tape is very widely used for backups by many large corporations and even smaller businesses. I even use LTO-1 and LTO-2 tapes myself for backing up my important stuff. I wouldn't trust my precious home videos and photos to an army of hard drives, but I know my tapes will last for decades should I ever need them.

Plus at 200 GB for $5 a tape, no hard drive can come close to that value. Of course the latest LTO tapes used by data centers hold several terabytes and the upcoming LTO-8 will hold 12.8 TB per tape. Honestly it doesn't sound like you know very much about them; you didn't even know tape was digital? For long term archival use tape beats anything else and has proven itself time and again.

Edited by Rigby, May 4 2014, 8:17pm :

Dot Matrix said,
Not sure where you guys work, but I have never seen tape backups. Hell, where I go to school, we're not even TAUGHT this.

You must go to a crappy school.
The company I work for has datacenters that use a mixed environment of LTO4 and 5 tapes for offsite backup.

Max Norris said,

Hrm. Think you need to read up on how this stuff actually works. LTO cartridges can last ~30 years. (And *psst* it's digital too.) And again, Fortune 500 companies and other major datacenters quite often rely on tape. Maybe you should send a mail to Google and tell them how they should be doing their backups since they obviously don't know how to run a large datacenter.

You've obviously got a lot of years at school Dot. All the crap you come out with here is never backed up with proof, and I'm tired of seeing your nonsense, you never research before opening your trap. I think you better get your teachers to knock you back a few years in school.

I use tape too, it's slow, but damn more reliable than modern HDD's, they certainly aren't built to last, but image a tape onto another tape you have two solid backups if stored correctly.

Dot Matrix said,
"Many modern servers..."

I have yet to be inside a modern data center that does. Where do you get this "many" from?

seriously? Almost EVERY major company I've worked for uses massive tape backup libraries and tape silo systems including major data centers

Tidosho said,

You've obviously got a lot of years at school Dot. All the crap you come out with here is never backed up with proof, and I'm tired of seeing your nonsense, you never research before opening your trap. I think you better get your teachers to knock you back a few years in school.

I use tape too, it's slow, but damn more reliable than modern HDD's, they certainly aren't built to last, but image a tape onto another tape you have two solid backups if stored correctly.

Cool story, then don't read it. I'm not going to stop posting, so, get used to it. Otherwise, block me. Doesn't change the fact that I've NEVER seen tape backups in the data centers I've been in. Strictly server farms running RAID setups. It's all we use here at school. The company I work for doesn't use them. The company I interned for didn't use them. The company I toured long ago didn't even use them.

Edited by Dot Matrix, May 4 2014, 10:39pm :

School never taught me about the existence of a tape drive and backing up to it.
But pretty much every company with some sort of IT and any datacenter I've seen, uses tapedrives.
Datacenters usually have those robotic ones. But they're used everywhere.
Very strange you've never came across them and this topic being the first evidence of backing-up-to-tapes.

I use LTO5 tapes every day (robotic 24 tape library with 2 tape drives).

Backups are first done to disk, then from disk to tape for off-site backup.

warwagon said,
Now I want to buy a tape drive.

I love mine; it is nice to have peace of mind with my data. I have home movies going back to my great grandparents stored on them, all of my family photos and any of my important stuff that would be very time consuming or outright impossible to replace. http://i.imgur.com/whAv7uO.jpg

They are also great for backing up all of my Steam games, music, and other stuff so I won't have to spend days downloading them again if anything happens. I only have an LTO-2 drive but it's more than enough for me and the newer drives are really expensive. :)

warwagon said,
Which one do you have and what interface does it use.

Mine is a Dell Powervault 110T, it looks like the one in the link below. The drive itself is made by Quantum I think. The interface is SCSI and I bought an Adaptec 2940U2W card to connect it to. The newer drives are SAS (serial attached SCSI) but I'm not sure exactly when they switched to using it.

http://sishardware.com/imgs/a/...___dell_pn_0ug210_1_lgw.jpg

The LTO-1 and LTO-2 drives are a bit on the slow side but I don't mind since I use it very rarely. The newer drives are much faster and if you can afford an LTO-5 or later they support a file system that shows up in Windows just like a hard drive letting you drag and drop files.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_Tape-Open

Edited by Rigby, May 4 2014, 11:51pm :

Today's gallery of Dot Matrix

Dot Matrix said,

1. "Not sure where you guys work, but I have never seen tape backups. Hell, where I go to school, we're not even TAUGHT this."

2. "I would never go near it. It doesn't last as long as digital media."

3. "Cool story, then don't read it. I'm not going to stop posting, so, get used to it."

Well now... lets brake this down shall we.

1. Just because you haven't seen it, does not mean that its not used. Also, I don't know what you are learning in school, but what ever it is. If your studying about backups, and they haven't told you about Tape, then they're doing it wrong.
Here, let me show you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-eWDuEo-3Q

This is the tape data archive at NCAR's AMSTAR Digital Storage Library. Also, I know your struggling to get your head around tape, but as a warning, This also has robots... hope that didn't blow your mind too much.

2. If that is the case, then you are a very ignorant individual. Also, as a heads up. Tape is digital... I Would also like to point out that the lifespan is much longer then any HDD on the market, and no other medium that I'm aware of has the same cost/data/durability advantages as tape. That RAID ain't going to do you much good if you have to back up data that needs to be stored over decades.

3. That's fine. you keep on posting. It's entertaining watching a jester dance.

^ He's still studying at school, so I doubt he's had much real world experience.

DM - Download a trial of Backup Exec, see what options exist. You may be surprised.

Jared- said,
^ He's still studying at school, so I doubt he's had much real world experience.

That could explain a few things. I still say he needs to post a picture :)

Jared- said,
^ He's still studying at school, so I doubt he's had much real world experience.

It certainly explains a lot.

Another thumbs up for LTO tapes. I'm not actually a part of the backup & storage team but 'consume' their services for our environment which is approximately 70 ESXi servers running around 670 Virtual Machines. Of course everything is RAIDed, and even asynchronously mirrored to another storage array but when it comes to backup we stage to disk initially (for speed, and so we get quick recovery if needed from the most recent backup) but then that's archived to tape. We have a couple of large Quantum tape jukeboxes with hundreds of slots each and each jukebox runs 6 or so LTO drives. It's a pretty cool setup as you have a robotic arm zooming up and down the cabinet removing and inserting tapes as and when it needs them.

Absolutely no plans to dump that setup in the near to medium future - it just works really well.

Chicane-UK said,

It certainly explains a lot.

Another thumbs up for LTO tapes. I'm not actually a part of the backup & storage team but 'consume' their services for our environment which is approximately 70 ESXi servers running around 670 Virtual Machines. Of course everything is RAIDed, and even asynchronously mirrored to another storage array but when it comes to backup we stage to disk initially (for speed, and so we get quick recovery if needed from the most recent backup) but then that's archived to tape. We have a couple of large Quantum tape jukeboxes with hundreds of slots each and each jukebox runs 6 or so LTO drives. It's a pretty cool setup as you have a robotic arm zooming up and down the cabinet removing and inserting tapes as and when it needs them.

Absolutely no plans to dump that setup in the near to medium future - it just works really well.

Sooo good.

warwagon said,
Which one do you have and what interface does it use.

You can buy single LTO5 drives from Dell - they connect using the included HBA card + cable.

Dot Matrix said,

Cool story, then don't read it. I'm not going to stop posting, so, get used to it. Otherwise, block me. Doesn't change the fact that I've NEVER seen tape backups in the data centers I've been in. Strictly server farms running RAID setups. It's all we use here at school. The company I work for doesn't use them. The company I interned for didn't use them. The company I toured long ago didn't even use them.


It's quite common practice, at my previous job we used tape for backup. Even if your school doesn't teach it or expose you to it in any way. Remember that schools suck at teaching how things actually work in the real world; after you graduate you've still just started learning. :)

Dot Matrix said,
"Many modern servers..."

I have yet to be inside a modern data center that does. Where do you get this "many" from?


Then again you also claimed you don't know a single person who owns a screen larger than 20-inch (or whatever). From what I gathered your personal experiences aren't much to go by.

.Neo said,

Then again you also claimed you don't know a single person who owns a screen larger than 20-inch (or whatever). From what I gathered your personal experiences aren't much to go by.

Also don't forget, he said he hasn't seen a popular Dell Dimension built in 2004 since 2004.

warwagon said,

Also don't forget, he said he hasn't seen a popular Dell Dimension built in 2004 since 2004.


What's up with this attitude? He said what his experience is, how hard is it to just read that and just leave it alone unless you have anything useful to contribute with?

Dot Matrix said,
"Many modern servers..."

I have yet to be inside a modern data center that does. Where do you get this "many" from?

I don't think i've worked in one large organisation that doesn't use tape backup. It's still by far the most popular.

In all honest DM, Schools are where you learn the least so i can't really blame you for not coming across, or being taught tape yet. However you will once out and about. Get to love it and use it if you want good solid low cost backups that'll last far more than any drive backup solution.

Edited by MikeChipshop, May 5 2014, 2:38pm :

Dot Matrix said,
Not sure where you guys work, but I have never seen tape backups. Hell, where I go to school, we're not even TAUGHT this.

Geological Seismic Data is one place where you will see tapes being used.
A single dataset can easily be in the terabyte range. Long term storage of the raw data is almost always on tape.

The company I used to work for actually sold space in their magstor tape backup system to their clients. That IS their business model.

To say no one uses tapes, means you do not have enough experience.

Lamp Post said,
after you graduate you've still just started learning. :)

Indeed. It's like what they say when you learn to drive. Once you pass your test and get your license, that's when you REALLY start learning to drive :)

Dot Matrix said,
"Many modern servers..."

I have yet to be inside a modern data center that does. Where do you get this "many" from?

Tapes are still used all the time. The cost/storage amount/lifespan is great.

Oh wait, you're the one who said the Start Menu was NEVER coming back to Windows 8.

Euphoria said,
Many is an understatement.
I would say all fortune 500 businesses us tape backup.

Many is a largement number or the majority. So i don't think it is an understatement ;)

Dot Matrix said,
Not sure where you guys work, but I have never seen tape backups. Hell, where I go to school, we're not even TAUGHT this.

A serious question, because I find this disturbing...

Where do you go to school?

Except it costs 3000 dollars to make and they're going to sell it to companies for 500 dollars. I'm sorry, but this is true.

-Hardcore Sony Fan

They actually made this back in the 70s to store Arnim Zola's consciousness, now they want to spread his consciousness across the world to make him indestructible.