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Alastair Murray

Director, The Bureau

Quotation Marks
“A lot of data is used once, archived, and then sometimes never used again, clogging-up valuable Cloud resources and disk space…”

Tackling data overload and cybercrime

Tackling data overload and cybercrime


Businesses are processing data at an unprecedented rate. Cloud Servers are overloaded with data. The latest data centres require very little human intervention to run them but consume vast quantities of power and energy processing their data adding to the world’s global warming problems with Bitcoin mining the worst culprit, consuming nearly 100 terawatt-hours each year, which is 100 billion hours in old money! Our growing thirst for more and more data is becoming a real challenge for businesses around the world and needs addressing now.

Not so very long ago, tape back-ups were the thing, with almost every hard drive using tape to save its valuable data. Interestingly tape is remerging as a possible additional back-up service to Cloud, Webservers and off-site data centres. While not the tape back-ups some of us knew in the past, this is a new breed of highly efficient tape technology that is looking like the way we will back-up all our precious files in the future.

A lot of data is used once, archived, and then sometimes never used again, clogging-up valuable Cloud resources and disk space, using more power and energy and prolonging the data lifespan unnecessarily. The cost for data storage has shot up since Covid struck and now the war in Ukraine has raised costs still further. The storing of data has become a hot topic with more firms now looking at ways to reduce this expense. Electricity costs continue to rise so finding ways to reduce this overhead has become a key management responsibility. With the ongoing rise of archived and unused data, the hunt is on for solutions, not only to reduce this wastage but also to find alternative methods to store these files.

A new solution

Storing data using tape back-up is emerging as a perfectly possible solution with its increased track capacities, faster run times and more efficient storage capabilities. While Cloud disk technology remains the standard, tape technology could be asked to lend a helping hand in future with some commentators already remarking that this will be a major step forward in reducing carbon emissions, electricity costs, data wastage, and even cybercrime.

Many larger firms are seeing their data storage needs almost doubling every year, with a lot of it wasted, leading to higher processing costs, increased energy usage and still more carbon emissions. It seems improbable that this can be sustained as electricity costs continue to rise. Tape technology with its improved speeds, greater capacities, energy savings, improved cyber security and cost efficiencies is looking like an excellent solution. In the coming years, tape could well be set to thrive and become more mainstream.

The efficiency of tape could help solve this problem of data overload while assisting Cloud and remote servers become less wasteful. There has been a lot of research done into the relative performance of tape versus Cloud and hard drive systems, with tape proving to save over 50 per cent on carbon emissions and over 40 per cent less wastage on electricity. In addition, this research showed that if the data was archived and transferred to tape it would save over 90 per cent on carbon emissions along with all the cost savings that comes with. These are impressive statistics will certainly pushed forward the argument that tape really can cut the cost of data wastage as well a firm’s bottom line.

In the coming years, there is likely to be a shift away from the classic data centres where Cloud and other servers reside. The growing need to cut carbon emissions and energy costs will drive this down the road to end up with tape and other emerging technologies becoming the new norm for data storage. With tape now able to store more data by minimising track sizes, along with its improved speeds and download times, give users the means to store their data a lot more efficiently. 

Another interesting fact about tape is how it will not only improve efficiency but also increase a firm’s ability to combat cybercrime. Firms live with the threat of ransomware and malicious trojans and worms every day, but tape has the potential to greatly reduce this by removing the conduit on which every hacker relies; electricity. Without electricity hackers are stumped and with faster back-up speeds data security is enhanced to give the hacker far less time to download their malicious code. With no power source hackers become redundant.

Increased efficiency

Cloud and hard drive systems that are permanently fixed to an electrical supply are far more vulnerable to attack simply by being constantly online, giving tape a massive advantage simply by being able to be switched-off.

Cloud and hard drive back-up systems in the office and in external data centres continue to provide excellent value for money as well as security, but the addition of tape technology offers an extra layer of support to keep hackers and other predators further away from a firm’s files.   

Tape technology is continuing to grow in strength and overall reliability giving it the chance to match if not overtake the performances of disk technology in the future. Our need to reduce the amounts of power and carbon we use is a key goal for which tape technology has a solution. Not only will it bring down carbon emissions but play a role in reducing file wastage to develop new and interesting ways to store data more efficiently as well as keeping it out of the hands of cyber criminals and hackers. 

By wasting less of our data will make it more relevant and truer, while improving our data storage methods for both current, archived and unused data will provide firms with greater flexibility to pick and choose what they really need to keep and what needs to be removed.

The ability of tape to reduce the prospect of cybercrime is a crucial point. While Cloud servers remain plugged-in, tape can choose when it is on and when it is off, cutting the hackers’ communication lines.  Firms throughout the world are struggling to compete with hackers who each day are downloading phishing, malware and ransomware onto Cloud and office networks, almost with impunity. The fact that tape has the means to disrupt this makes it a valuable tool in fighting cybercrime. 

At a time when cyber criminals are marketing their wares as ‘off-the-shelf’ services on the dark web, firms must continue to review the way they store their data and come-up with new and ingenious ways to protect themselves. The grim reality is that the criminals have the upper hand and persist in their deception by pounding firms with malicious code with little or no chance of them being caught.

Moving to remote or hybrid office working has not helped matters with more phishing scams, malware and ransomware being downloaded than ever. Covid-19 gave cyber criminals the chance to exploit the poorer security of home computers. While this is improving there are still firms struggling to get to grips with hybrid workers at home.

 Whether off-site or in the Cloud the trick is to get your data to the right place, at the right time, securely and in the most cost-effective way. Tape tech. offers IT managers the luxury of almost endless storage for their ‘archived’ or ‘cold’ data while improving download speeds and overall accessibility to a firm’s precious data while keeping the hackers away. Tape is making a comeback!

Alastair Murray is Director at The Bureau