What is Magnetic Tape?- Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape | NEtechy

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What is Magnetic Tape?- Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape

What is Magnetic Tape?- Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape What is Magnetic Tape?- Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape

What is Magnetic Tape?

What is Magnetic Tape

  • Magnetic Tape is a continuous length polyester film, which is coated with a magnetic material to store data.
  • It is a sequential data storage and data access medium.
  • The tape length is normally 2400 feet and width is one and a half inch.
  • The entire length of the tape is divided into horizontal tracks; 8 tracks to provide very high storage capacity.
  • The recording density of the tape is represented as bytes per inch.
  • The storage space on tape to store one character is known as frame and number of frames together provide a record, and a number of records together form a structure known as a block.
  • After every block, there is a small gap, known as IBG (Interblock Gap).
  • This gap is provided for the tape to read a block of data and stop for a while to supply read data into CPU, and then start reading again the next block.

Some Important terms used for Magnetic Tape:

  1. IBG: IBM means Inter Block Gap. This is a gap for start/stop operation of tape while reading a block of data.
  2.  RM: RM means Record Mark. A small gap is provided for variable length record structure to distinguish between two records.
  3. TM: TM means Tape mark. If more than one file is placed on single tape then the gap between two files is known as Tape Mark.
  4. Blocking: Putting many records together in a block is known as Blocking.
  5. De-Blocking: Separating the records from a block is known as De-Blocking.


Magnetic Tapes are available in two forms. These are:


  1. Detachable Reel Tape
  2. Tape Cartridge


Detachable Reel Tape:

  1. This is an old technology of Magnetic Tape.
  2. In this type of magnetic tape, two open spools are used, one as supply spool and another as take-up spool, for magnetic tape functioning.
  3. To visualize this type of tape you can relate it with movie tapes used in the theater projector room, or you can visualize it through the last scene of Anand Movie.

Tape Cartridge:

  1. This is the latest magnetic tape technology.
  2. The cartridge tape is like small audio/video cassette; this is also known as Streaming Tape.
  3. In 1986, IBM introduced the tape cartridge system.
  4. These tapes are small in size and can store a large amount of data than the conventional magnetic tape.
  5. These tapes may have 32 or 36 tracks depending upon the coding system, and these tracks help to provide large storage space and also help in fast access of required data.
  6. To use a cartridge tape, A Cartridge Tape Drive (CTD) is required in a computer, which is like a car's audio cassette / CD player.

Advantages of Magnetic Tape:

  1. A single magnetic tape cartridge can store large amounts of data up to 1 Terabyte. Large cartridges are used by big companies and institutions that require continuous recording and backup of data.
  2.  Data collection can go on without interruption overnight or for an entire weekend.
  3. Magnetic tape can be recorded over and reused repeatedly.
  4. A large amount of information is stored.
  5. Magnetic tape is inexpensive and budget friendly.

Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape:

  1. Special equipment must be purchased and set up for recording and storing data. The data can only be read on the special equipment.
  2. If the data is stored near a strong magnetic field or a large speaker, the tape can be damaged.
  3. Magnetic tape has a lifespan of 15 years. Data quality gradually erodes over time.
  4. It is necessary to keep older tape equipment just to be able to read the stored data.

Uses of Magnetic Tape:

  1. Magnetic Tape is a Sequential Storage and Access Device that it can store and access the data sequentially only.
  2. It is not used for online data application.
  3. But due to its low cost for storage capacity; it is mainly used for the backup purpose in a large organization.
  4. The latest tapes, which are known as cartridge tapes or streaming tapes, can take the backup of the entire hard disk within a few minutes.

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NEtechy: What is Magnetic Tape?- Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape
What is Magnetic Tape?- Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape
What is Magnetic Tape?- Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape What is Magnetic Tape?- Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape
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