By Brian Ives
Over the weekend, Sony made headlines when they introduced a cassette tape that holds 148 GB of data per square inch of tape, meaning a cassette could hold 185 TB of data. The big unveiling took place at the International Magnetics Conference (which is a thing) in Dresden, Germany.
You can read about how this works at a variety of websites (like Gizmodo), but the end result is that a cassette could hold 185 TB of data. However, this tape isn’t really designed for everyday use: as IT World writes, “Magnetic tape has been eclipsed by hard disk drives and flash drives as a medium in recent years but is still in use to preserve critical information over the long-term in data centers, corporate archives and other facilities.”
So, basically if you’re talking about mp3 bootlegs of an indie band you barely remember, or you’re storing Instagram photos of a drunken night out with your bros? Disk drive, no problem. But for anything really important? Stick with tape.
And more people are getting wise to this. Last year’s “2013 State of the Tape Market Memo,” issued by the Tape Storage Council (which is also a thing), said tape storage tape capacity shipments grew by 13 percent in 2012 and were projected to grow by 26 percent last year (figures for 2013 don’t appear to be available yet).
So, yeah, one of these tapes can hold a zillion times as many songs as your iPod, but do you really want to spend that much time rewinding and fast forwarding to get to the song you want?
Also, it’s unlikely you’ll ever need this much space. Let’s say the songs that you listen to average at three minutes in length, you can keep about 64,750,000 songs on a tape, which is enough music to last you 8,093,750 days. (Via ExtremeTech via Consequence of Sound). So you can try to fill that with a killer mix, High Fidelity style, to impress the guy or girl or your dreams. But if you want to fill that tape up, you need to set aside some time: it’ll take you, like, 22,000 years to finish making it.
Or maybe just buy them an iPod and load it up: it costs a bit more, but hey, it doesn’t take forever.