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Article: Google goes to the tape !
It is amazing how many companies still rely on tape backups (I have worked for a few of them), the tapes are a last ditch protection for catistrophic problems. Of course one has to remember that tapes also deteriorate over time, many studies have been performed comparing using CD's DVD's and so forth to using tape, and measuring the perceived life of each of the various media. All good stuff!
I've been supporting as well as running tape backups for over 10 years, you would be surprised just how fast they can be, and how reliable they can be. Certainly backup to disk CAN be faster, but it doesn't necessarily mean it is. You are correct though that it can take up a lot of physical space. But when push comes to shove, and you have a tape backup stored in a secure offsite location, and you really need it, it can be an absolute lifesaver, case in point with Google.
... backup is a backup, is a backup, whether on tape , toothpaste or stone. LOL !
It´s a mountain and it´s slow, but then again it´s, hopefully, still all there !