The disadvantages of magnetic storage

Updated February 21, 2017

Magnetic storage refers to magnetic tapes, which utilise a very thin layer of metal powder that is bonded to a strip of plastic, the same technology that is used to make cassette tapes. Magnetic tapes are larger, however, and can hold images of documents. Since they are hard copy and not affected by digital problems, many companies use magnetic tapes as backups for important documents. However, the format is not flawless.

Access Issues

Magnetic storage tape can record a variety of documents but in only one order. There has to be a beginning and an end; the tape cannot just pull out requested data. This means that a person looking for data at the end of the tape with have to cycle through all the data before it first, making the search for data stored on magnetic tape more laborious than searches through digital storage.

System Issues

Magnetic tapes can work only with specific programs that take data and apply them to the magnetic film. These systems are expensive. And even when the tapes are created, a separate machine is needed to read them, adding to the cost. There may also be compatibility issues between different systems.


Magnetic storage was once popular because it was much more cost effective than downloading and storing data on a hard drive long term. However, prices have levelled out, and now digital data storage, especially on servers, can beat out magnetic storage in terms of price. Other aspects, like data security, remain the same.

Magnetic Reactions

The magnetic film used on the tapes is reactive to other magnetic forces. Strong magnetic fields can disrupt or destroy the information on the tapes. The film can also melt in intense heat, making fires a danger among all forms of storage.

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About the Author

Tyler Lacoma has worked as a writer and editor for several years after graduating from George Fox University with a degree in business management and writing/literature. He works on business and technology topics for clients such as Obsessable, EBSCO,, The TAC Group, Anaxos, Dynamic Page Solutions and others, specializing in ecology, marketing and modern trends.