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Backing up to tape still has a place in today's data center

Despite the medium's age, improvements to tape products help keep backing up to tape a viable option for storage administrators.

But tape can have an even greater role in backup, George Crump, founder of Storage Switzerland, told his Storage Decisions audience.

"I'm not the kind of guy who's going to beat you over the head with tape, that you gotta have tape," said Crump. "But I'm also not the guy who says, throw it out … tape has a role."

Crump said that in the last few years, tape products have improved with the use of the Linear Tape File System (LTFS), which improves the ability of tape to be read by commercial operating systems.

"You can now read tape directly from an operating system -- [and] assuming the application wrote it in LTFS format -- no matter what application wrote it," Crump said.

Previously, old tape could become difficult to use unless an organization still had access to legacy tape systems. "The challenge I had with any archive application is you better like it a lot," said Crump.

He said that backing up to tape can be a long-lasting option, especially since modern robotics can minimize human handling of the tapes themselves and offer less of a chance for incidental drops or other accidental damage to tape.

"When it's time to export tape, you put it into a custom-fit carrier, and it goes in there sealed and goes off-site. It's never touched by human hands," said Crump.

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