back to article TDK calls it quits on tape media thanks to 'difficult environment'

Japan's TDK Corporation has seen the writing on the wall and decided to get out of the LTO tape media manufacturing business. The company's statement says: "In recent years, however, the data storage market has been contracting, creating a difficult business environment … TDK has decided to withdraw from the data tape business …


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  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Kind of sad.

    People keep banging on about a tapeless world but you try stuffing someone else flash drive into that incompatible hole.

    Still a few players left.

    Time to stock up I guess.

    1. WraithCadmus
      Thumb Down

      Re: Kind of sad.

      All our tape archives are in some foolish proprietary format. So we seem to have the worst of both worlds.

  2. a_mu

    as a student

    TDK cassette tapes were THE standard for good quality recording

    Good being relative to the time and money,

    the "metal" audio tapes were amazing, but just about impossible to erase on early cassette recorders.

    this and the 50th anniversary of the cassette , oh how life moves on,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Erasing tapes

      What about MA-XG? Even high-end decks struggled to erase them - awesome headroom, though...

    2. RobHib

      @a_mu - Re: as a student

      You're right, TDK tapes were THE standard, moreover the quality was always consistent (although the Chinese stuff was of a lower grade).

      It's sad to see TDK tapes go but I'm not surprised. In fact, TDK has lasted longer than I expected. I guessed it'd would go a few years back when VHS tapes dropped in price to only a few dollars for a pack of three, that was also about the time I bought my last tape. I'm now recycling old tapes, that is whenever I use the VHS, which, these days, is pretty rarely.

      Reckon my usage is typical, so it's little wonder it's goodbye time.

  3. loneranger

    Haven't used a tape in ? years

    I haven't used a tape of any kind in a long time. Not cassette, not movie tape (can't even remember what its name is), not anything. Kind of surprised they were still making them

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Haven't used a tape in ? years

      I used one at the weekend

      a DVC60 in my video camera

    2. Euripides Pants

      Re: Haven't used a tape in ? years

      Some things are only available on tape like _real_ Doctor Who (Tom Baker) episodes. Can't find Terror of the Zygons or the E-Space trilogy on anything but VHS in the States.

      1. Grifter

        Re: Haven't used a tape in ? years

        Only available on tape? Well now we have this newfangled thing called the intertubes.

        'doctor who tom baker' on piratebay, problem solved.

  4. K

    I thought I'd be using tape forever

    That was until a few weeks ago.. I've since brought into the backup appliance racket, the only thing I'll use tape for now is long term archive, but I'm even questioning that as an offsite cloud backup such as Glacier might offer a better long term solution.

  5. Daniel B.


    So what are the alternatives to tape these days? IIRC tape is still the cost-effective media these days...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Backup

      Have to agree...

      cloud is fine until you look at petabytes of data being held for several years...

      1. pPPPP

        Re: Backup

        Yep, tape's still the best bet for archives. Having stale data spinning round just makes no sense. Even less so with flash.

      2. firefly

        Re: Backup

        Even the cloud has to be backed up somehow.

        That is one hell of a tape library.

    2. Volker Hett

      Re: Backup

      Plus offsite storage in a bank vault :)

  6. dan1980

    I still love you tape.

    There are several benefits of tape but the most important is portability. Yes, in the volumes that some companies use, it's not portable in the pick-it-up-on-the-way-out sense, but from a legal point of view, tape is far more portable than storing all you backups in a cloud service consisting of thousands of spindles distributed across multiple physical locations.

    While it's possible to overcome the issues with, say, cloud backups by throwing money at it for larger pipes, etc... no amount of money with make those solutions portable in the same way tape is - especially in smaller quantities.

    It's also good from a records management point of view. All the legal firms I deal with still maintain an archiving system based around bits of paper arranged in vertical files, shuttled about in archive boxes. The beauty of that system is that (with proper management), records are stored out of sight, out of mind at a specialised, offsite location and destroyed once the retention period has elapsed. Tape has similar benefits.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I still love you tape.

      Remember the old saying: "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with magtape."

      1. Kintaeb

        Re: I still love you tape.

        Too true, though you should also never forget the second part "but the latency sucks...."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still plenty of tape

    Well glacier is based on tape.

    Anyway this is all about the fact that Fuji dominates the market even though its an open standard -just like Samsung dominates android.

    Fuji invested heavily and has the leading technology obviously TDK felt unable to compete.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge

    First computing job

    1983: Here's a backup tape, mount and key in the label, stand and watch it until it stops. If it fails, repeat.

  9. defiler


    Only yesterday I was telling people that tape still has a bright future. The amount of data you can fit in a rack is on a par with hard discs, but the discs wear out faster, and cost £thousands more per year to spin and to cool. Even "backup to the cloud" still has to land on something, and if it's hard disc it's a waste of power and space.

    I still believe in tape. And whilst I can see it moving out of individual companies to cloud backup providers in time, I still can't see it going away anytime soon.

    1. cyrus

      Re: Yesterday...

      I assume you mean for archiving, not live storage. If tapes spin as long as drives, I would expect failure rates to be extreme. Access times on linear data storage devices like tape suck balls.

      We use tapes for archiving, not live storage. You can't compare tapes to hard drives for that. They (should) perform different functions.

      For our archiving we have a copy to tape, restored to a drive for verification. The drive is then stored on-site for fast access. LTOs are stored in a warehouse (and really old drives). Tapes are emergency storage, should a drive fail.

      Mind you, this is for video production, so the drives are important to us in order to reduce the time necessary to get at data we have needed to remove from mass storage quickly. Tapes are just insurance.

      1. defiler

        Re: Yesterday...

        "Tapes are just insurance." - you got it right there. I don't expect to do regular restores from tape. Whenever possible I advise clients to have D2D backups at file level. Tape is an invaluable DR tool, though, and also excellent for archiving. I treat tape as the deep-tank. The backstop for when things go badly wrong. And it's served me well over the years.

        It's not for constant access - hard discs are miles better at that. But users need to have reasonable expectations on access times to effectively unused data too.

  10. sanctimon

    Not "thanks to"

    "Thanks to" cannot be used for negative-shaded events. It must be "because of"/"due to"/"on account of".

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Not "thanks to"

      That's the joke.


  11. RobHib

    One can only hope TDK sells its plant intact.

    "That leaves just four manufacturers, with Fujifilm having the leading market share and loss-making Imation effectively reselling TDK cartridges"

    This also begs the question when Fujifilm does the same as Kodak and kills off most of its film. A few years ago Kodak killed off Kodachrome then it wasn't long before the company was bankrupt--not that killing Kodachrome was the case, rather it's symptomatic of the changing market.

    I can remember how tapes improved over time and much of it was down to TDK using excellent binders, to refining the polishing techniques and increasing the number of polishing stages (if I recall correctly, TDK eventually ended up using a 5-stage process for their good quality tapes).

    One can only hope TDK sells its plant, polishers etc., to some enterprising Chinese company that will keep tape manufacturing going a little longer. Even so, I reckon it will be only delaying the inevitable for tape manufacture (eventually it'll end up going the same way as when Technicolor sold its imbibition (dye-transfer) plant to the Chinese. That still-unequaled film process lasted a few more years but the writing was on the wall.)

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