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A magnetic tape drive is a storage device that makes use of magnetic tape as a medium for storage.
It uses a long strip of narrow plastic film with tapes of thin magnetizable coating. It is essentially a device which records or perhaps plays back video and audio using magnetic tape, examples of which are tape recorders and video tape recorders.
Magnetic tape drives store data on magnetic tape using digital recording.
The tapes are usually stored on cartridges or cassettes, but for drives that are used as data storage tape backups, the tape is often wound on reels. Magnetic tape is not the most dense data storage medium, but as of 2010 the record for the largest data capacity in magnetic tape was 29.5GB per square inch and the Linear Tape-Open (LTO) supported continuous data transfer rates up to 140 MB/s which was comparable to most hard disks drives.
A tape drive is only able to move tape in a single direction and hence can only provide sequential access storage, unlike a disk drive which may provide random access as well as sequential access.
The reason magnetic tape drives are still in use today, especially as an offline data backup, is because of long archival stability and very favorable unit costs.