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Magnetic tape is a medium that used for storing digital information, back up and archiving on

digital recording. Magnetic tape were packaged by cartridges and cassettes of many sizes and
shapes. Magnetic tape was first used to record computer data and programs in 1951.Magnetic
tape has sequential access where data bits are recorded one after the other. To find these bits,
the tape drive has to be fast forwarded or rewind so that the data can be found. A tape drive is
a sequential-access device. If the tape head is positioned at record 1, then to read record N, it
is require to read physical records 1 through N 1, one at a time. If the head is currently
positioned beyond the desired record, it is necessary to rewind the tape a certain distance and
begin reading forward. Unlike the disk, the tape is in motion only during a read or write
operation. In contrast to the tape, the disk drive is referred to as a direct-access device. A disk
drive need not read all the sectors on a disk sequentially to get to the desired one. It must only
wait for the intervening sectors within one track and can make successive accesses to any
track. Magnetic tape was the first kind of secondary memory. It is still widely used as the
lowest-cost, slowest-speed member of the memory hierarchy.
There are two common forms of Magnetic Tape:
1: Reel-to-Reel Magnetic Tape

Reels Large reels of tape which must be loaded into a

reel-to-reel tape drive. This type of tape is usually used
by mainframe computers.

2: Cartridge Magnetic Tape

The tape is supplied in a small cartridge rather like a music
tape. This type of tape is used on PCs (microcomputers) and
the device used to read/write the tapes is called a tape
Capacities of cartridges vary from 10Gb to 200Gb.

Characteristics of Magnetic Tapes

No direct access, but very fast sequential access.
Resistant to different environmental conditions.
Easy to transport, store, cheaper than disk.
Before, it was widely used to store application data; nowadays, its mostly used for backups
or archives (tertiary storage).
Advantage of magnetic tape
Probably the cheapest form of storage per

Disadvantage of magnetic tape

Slow serial access

megabyte if storage
Can store large amounts of data and data

Require a special piece of equipment to

can be stored up to 1 terabyte per tape

record and read the data on the tape

Can be set up to do the back up overnight or

The data might be corrupted if the tape is

over weekend

placed near a strong magnetic field e.g. a

large speaker or magnet.

Text book:
Tape systems use the same reading and recording techniques as disk systems. The medium is
flexible polyester (similar to that used in some clothing) tape coated with magnetizable
material. The coating may consist of particles of pure metal in special binders or vapor-plated
metal films. The tape and the tape drive are analogous to a home tape recorder system. Tape
widths vary from 0.38 cm (0.15 inch) to 1.27 cm
Davis, Z. (1996). Magnetic tape Definition from PC Magazine Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015,
from http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/46499/magnetic-tape



Magnetic Tape. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.custom-magnets.com/magnetic_tape.htm

Zandbergen, P. (Ed.). (2003). Magnetic Storage: Definition, Devices & Examples - Video &
Lesson Transcript | Study.com. Retrieved 2015, from