Disks that look like tape

Disks that look like tape

Summary: I'm at Storage Networking World in Dallas this morning so I'll make it quick. This one is more active than some so maybe the storage market is on the upswing.

TOPICS: Storage, Hardware

I'm at Storage Networking World in Dallas this morning so I'll make it quick. This one is more active than some so maybe the storage market is on the upswing.

Coolest thing I finally figured out Tandberg started shipping a disk that looks like a tape last year. Which is a pretty cool idea when you consider that high-end tapes are as expensive as disks and a lot slower and no less fragile.

Not only do they look like tapes, but the disks are packed to take 3x the shock and vibe of standard notebook disks, which are already pretty rugged.

Disks that look like tape

What I didn't realize, even though I've been bombarded with their press releases for the last few weeks, is that the disks that look like tape are actually the design of a company named ProStor Systems out of the Denver area, tape capital of the world.

[Disclosure: I have no financial relationship with ProStor.]

ProStor has licensed the design to several media firms like Imation to give you a choice and some competition. They've also developed an archiving system for the SMB market.

A 30 year disk? ProStor hired Percept Labs to perform accelerated life testing on the disks-as-tapes, and their analysis arrived at a 30 year lifespan, similar to DLT and LTO. Accelerated life testing uses heat and humidity as a surrogate for actual aging. Constant use will wear out a drive long before 30 years, but for archiving the data is as good as the info we have for tapes.

BTW, I checked with Seagate engineering about the rumor that the lube used in drives will evaporate or stop working after a few years of non-use. They said it wasn't true.

The Storage Bits take One of the smartest guys in Storage, former CTO of DEC's storage group Richie Lary, has been saying for years that 3.5" disks are as cheap and much faster than high-end tapes. ProStor uses 2.5" drives, which are more costly per bit, but also more reliable in a start-stop, bang-around environment.

The big advantage is speed. Disks are random access devices and can access a file in milliseconds instead of the 60-90 seconds a tape can take. If you liked Zip drives you'll love the ProStor RDX concept. The ability to pull out a disk, slap a lable on it, and stick it on a shelf really makes disk-based archiving feasible for small businesses.

Comments welcome, of course. How do you archive old data?

Topics: Storage, Hardware

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  • RE: Disks that look like tape

    In a previous blog talkback, the possibility of making 5.25" hard disks with slow but massive storage was brought up, and you mentioned that this slow-but-massive storage would make a good replacement for tape. Is this "Disks that look like tape" what you had in mind?
  • RE: Disks that look like tape

    The greatest risk to archival data these days seems to be the obsolescence of the hardware and software used to read it.

    I would suggestthat the second largest hazard is medium degradation. We all should be familiar with the fact that magnetic storage media are vulnerable over time to random bit loss due to ambient radiation such as cosmic rays, which are impossible to shield. In other words, the medium will decay on its own until the corruption of a critical bit on the directory which will render the rest of the info unreadable.

    What is the advantage of these "disks that look like tape" over a premium CD or DVD for archival use?

    We have books that were printed on the first printing press that are still readable 400 years later. Is there an electronic medium that will stand up to the ravages of time for 100 years?