In computer storage, a tape library (also called a tape silo, tape robot or tape jukebox, is a storage device which contains one or more tape drives, a number of slots to hold tape cartridges, a barcode reader to identify tape cartridges and an automated method for loading tapes (a robot).
These devices can store immense amounts of data, currently ranging from 20 terabytes up to more than 50 petabytes of data, or about one hundred thousand times the capacity of a typical hard drive and well in excess of capacities achievable with network-attached storage. The tradeoff for their larger capacity is their slower access time, which usually involves mechanical manipulation of tapes. Access to data in a library takes from several seconds to several minutes.
Because of their slow access and huge capacity, tape libraries are primarily used for backups and as the final stage of digital archiving. A typical application of the latter would be an organization's extensive transaction record for legal or auditing purposes. Another example is hierarchical storage management (HSM), in which tape library is used to hold rarely used files from file systems.
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