If you suppose tape drives to be a relic of the past, think twice. In fact, many people give preference to them when it goes about backup and archiving processes. As the name implies, such drives store computing data on a magnetic tape that is usually coated in a cartridge (cassette). Similar to more up-to-date backup equipment, these items cannot communicate with the PC system without dedicated tape drive drivers which facilitate recording process.
The tape itself consists of four basic parts: backing, binder, magnet, and coating. The backing stands for a special material that ensures flexibility and strength of the tape. Its other predestination is to prevent signals in one section from ‘penetrating’ into the other sections, thus mixing the data. The binder is a material that glues the backing and magnetic material. Magnet is an integral part of the tape, used to white and read data. Finally, coating is a protective layer that ensures smooth running of heads.
In the context of operational principles tape devices are divided into linear and helical scan. The first ones read and write data by putting lines of info lengthwise the tape. Such equipment employs several heads at a time to enable simultaneous Read/Write operations. As a result, data transfer rates are rather high.
Quite the contrary, helical scan devices read and white batches of info in diagonal strips along the tape. They feature two reels which provide for a better data density, although cannot boast huge capacity facilities. Nonetheless, both types require from the user to download drivers for tape drive to optimize transfer rates.
Besides, in order to accommodate huge amounts of data, tape backup items use compression technology. Compression immensely boosts transfer rates, depending on the type of data.
Finally, tape drives can be rewinding and non-rewinding. The first one issues rewind command to demount a tape at the end of a session, whereas the second one just adds new files to the end of the last session. Still, users might control the process of rewinding by installing dedicated drivers for tape drive.
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