This 9TB magnetic tape can still outperform SSD or hard drives

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Those born in the 1980s may have warm memories of storage tape, but magnetic ribbons have long been replaced by shiny coasters, silicon chips and cloud storage for anyone wanting to store data.

But thetechnology is not dead yet - you can buy cheap LTO-7 tapes and get 9TB of native storage (22.5TB compressed) once they are reformatted to M8, such as the Quantum LTO-7 tape for as little as $57.77.

With an uncompressed capacity of 9TB, this translates into a per TB cost of $6.42, about 12x less than the cheapest SSD on the market and 1/4 the price of the 12TB Seagate Exos X14, currently the most affordable hard disk drive on the market on a per TB basis.


In other words, if you want a LOT of capacity, nothing beats the good old magnetic tape - although you will need to factor in the cost of the drive.

There's something else that tape provides that no other storage medium currently offers by default; on-the-fly, transparent compression which can go up to 2.5:1; although this works best on text files rather than on multimedia ones, as they are already heavily compressed.

As for transfer speeds, they can reach 300MBps (that's a staggering 1.08TB per hour) which is plenty fast, slower than the PNY Pro Elite which tops 375MBps.

Even though tape has a retro feeling to it, it is still the preferred, most widely used archiving medium thanks partly to a 30-year archival life and lifetime warranty on almost all tapes on sale.

Just bear in mind that the price above doesn't take into consideration the price of an LTO drive, which can cost around $2,600 (e.g. this Quantum LTO-7 drive) for a bare internal drive so that it only makes sense to get this if you plan any capacity above 100TB. 

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.