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From tape to Akord: simplifying disaster recovery

Pascal Barry
Pascal Barry
11 Jul 2023 · 4 min
From tape to Akord

Introduction: magnetic tape and its role in archiving

Introduced in the 1950s by IBM, magnetic tape storage has been a cornerstone in data management since the 1950s. Originally, it was used for large-scale data processing in mainframe computers. Magnetic tape storage operates by saving data onto a thin strip of plastic film embedded with magnetic materials.

People have been declaring that tape is dead for the past 2 decades. But the reality is that tape has seen a surge in recent years. In 2021, shipments for tape-based storage media increased by 40%, totaling 148 Exabytes (155 million TB). This was in large part due to the COVID 19 pandemic, where an increase in remote work coupled with an acceleration in ransomware and other cyber threats presented tape as a solid option for enterprise archive and disaster recovery strategies.

Considering that at least 60% of all data can be classified as archival (expected to exceed 80% by 2025), and that many cloud storage providers are actually offering tape storage for their archival tiers, tape is very much at the center of the debate when it comes to long-term archiving of data.

The benefits of tape

Tape storage is still being used due to its offline nature – this protects data against ever increasing cyber threats like ransomware.

Ransomware and malware are threats that will not go away. Magnetic tape is an established, understood, and proven technology that can be an invaluable tool for defeating ransomware.

Tape also has high capacity (LTO 9 offers 45 TB of compressed storage) and reliability, making it attractive as part of a diversified data backup strategy to safeguard against data loss and security breaches.

However, it’s not always the best idea to step back in time to solve today’s challenges when it comes to technology.

The risks and worries of tape

First off, you need to setup a physical facility to store your tape. That facility needs to be optimally regulated as tape is extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. Exposure to high temperatures, humidity, dust, or magnetic fields can degrade the quality of the magnetic tape and make the data unreadable over time. Physical handling is a concern, especially during situations like lockdowns when remote management is necessary.

Next you’ll need to maintain the technology to read your data. Tape drivers typically need to be replaced every 4-5 years on average. Although tape can in theory last 30 years (if stored at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 40% relative humidity), the real threat is if data on tapes can’t be read by the latest tape drives. It’s why tape is often replaced even when it still has decades of theoretical use left.

Inevitable data migrations to deal with the limitations of the media will be time consuming and costly. Other costs that may not be seen upfront, are slow access times for retrieving data – GDPR right-to-know requests for a large company could be a constant drain on resources as IT teams struggle to locate data.

Most risky of all, tape storage creates a single point of failure.

If only one copy of data is stored on tape, and that tape becomes damaged or degraded, the data may be lost. Multiple copies of critical data must be maintained, compounding costs. Still, tapes are physically vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and fires. Since they are often stored in single locations, these events can result in the loss of all data.

From on-prem to on-chain

Akord’s vaults can sidestep the issues of tape and deliver the fundamental benefits organizations are looking for: ransomware protection, durability and cost effectiveness.

Own the keys, decentralize the data

Recent studies have shown that storing data in the centralised cloud is a massive ransomware risk. As Shai Morag, CEO of Ermetic comments:

We found that in every single account we tested, nearly all of an organization’s S3 buckets were vulnerable to ransomware.

Because users of Akord own the keys that encrypt their data locally, once safely stored on Arweave the data cannot be decrypted and tampered with. It will be stored in hundreds of replicas of the blockchain across the globe (700+ currently).

If Akord is used to archive data then any attacks on internal systems will not be catastrophic but contained.

Permanent storage, permanently accessible

Storing data with Akord is about as durable as it gets. Akord leverages truly permanent storage through the Arweave blockchain.

Arweave uses a crypto endowment to ensure miners are incentivized to store data for at least the next 200 years. This is possible because data storage is decreasing in a predictable fashion, on average 30.5% per year for the last 50 years.

In a highly conservative estimate, Arweave assumes a 0.5% annual decline when calculating data upload costs. Any time the cost of storage falls more than 0.5% a year, it extends out the lifetime that the protocol can pay to store at least 15 replicas (the minimum threshold) of your data. Check out, How can we store data for 200 years?, for more information.

What’s more, Akord can guarantee permanent accessibility as we’re soon to launch Akord Explorer. Deployed directly on Arweave itself, Explorer will live alongside your data providing a simple means to retrieve and decrypt your data regardless of what happens to Akord the company.

Owning your data, saving you money

When you use cloud storage you are the renter and the storage provider is your data landlord. If you stop paying your rent, then you can’t access your data.

This means your payments will never stop and the cost of maintaining your archives compound over time.

Akord can offer enterprise-scale storage deals with payments spread over 5-10 years. These monthly payments will often be comparable or cheaper than paying a cloud provider, with the difference that at the end of the payment term you will own your data and never have to pay for it again.

Direct savings are now compounded by indirect efficiencies you gain through being able to confidently plan and manage the storage of data.

Much like owning a car or house, owning your data is the most cost-efficient long-term strategy.


Unlike tape storage with its physical complexities and vulnerabilities, or centralized cloud services with their labyrinthine pricing tiers and contracts, Akord introduces simplicity into the data storage equation. This simplicity delivers perpetual peace of mind: data remains secure, accessible and immune to the increasing threats of ransomware.

The cloud presented IT teams with a means to move up the value stack and focus their energies on solving business problems instead of maintaining complex on-premise storage systems. If organizations go back to tape, then they're undermining the potential of IT teams to drive transformative change within their organizations.

Owning your data off-premise is now a possible strategic position for enterprise and large organizations. One that can tackle cyber threats and offer effective disaster recovery, while still delivering all the core efficiencies of the cloud. 

If you want to learn more about how Akord can be part of your organization's archiving and disaster recovery strategy, reach out to us.

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