Networking and Hardware Blog

Two Studies Show that Tape Offers Significant TCO Benefits Over Disk

Tape is far from dead!

Two recent studies have found that tape has significant total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits over disk, including lower cost per GB, lower operating expenses, and lower energy costs. The two studies, from the Enterprise Strategy Group and The Clipper Group, evaluated the costs of long-term storage for various scenarios that included tape and disk as the primary storage medium.  In each case, the studies found that tape had considerable long-term cost advantages when compared with a scenario that relied on a disk-only solution. 

“The notion that ‘tape is dead’ ignores the substantial evidence that favors tape as a lower-cost, environmentally friendly removable medium that is well suited for offline data protection as well as high-growth compliance, fixed content, and archiving applications,” said Senior Analyst Mark Peters who conducted the ESG study. 

The ESG study evaluated a common disk environment with an industry-standard deduplication system versus a tape library with LTO-5, with full nightly backups, over a five-year period. The scenarios included replicated systems and offsite tape vaults. In all circumstances, the TCO for VTL with deduplication ranged from about 2 to 4 times more expensive than the LTO-5 tape library TCO.

A separate study on archiving very large data collections by The Clipper Group also found that tape is much less expensive than disk, using significantly less energy when measured on a per petabyte basis over a 12-year period.  In short, the TCO under The Clipper Group scenario found the disk solution for long-term archiving to be more than $67 million, approximately 15 times greater than the cost to deploy a tape solution of $4.5 million over the 12-year scenario, with the cost of energy alone for disk at $4 million and only about $18,000 for tape. In the end, The Clipper Group concluded that the vast majority of archived data should reside on tape. 

“Tape continues to play an important role in the protection and preservation of an organization’s digital assets,” said Rob Clark, Senior Vice President, Disk and Tape Backup Product Group, Quantum. “These studies from leading figures further reinforce to the industry that tape is the optimal low-cost storage medium for long-term data retention."

For more information, you can check out a webinar hosted by Mark Peters of ESG on Tuesday, September 27 at 10am PST to discuss his findings. For more information about the ESG study A Comparative TCO Study: VTLs and Physical Tape, visit For more information about The Clipper Group study In Search of Long-Term Archiving Solution, visit

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