Top 5 DDS/DAT Tape Drives

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Digital data storage tape drives, or DDS, is a format for storing computer data on a digital audio tape. The DDS/DAT came after the original tape style data storage format known as the AIT, SAIT, or advanced intelligent tape drive. After its 1996 release, the DDS drive developed into a digital storage forerunner, eventually usurping the SAIT/AIT format. DDS technology seems to have a place in the ongoing realm of digital storage display, with more efficient models containing extra storage coming out every few years. Modern, still-thriving incarnations of the design include DDS-3, DDS-4, DAT-72, DAT-160, and DAT-320.
1 DDS-3 Tape Drives

The DDS-3 tape drive originally came onto the market in 1996. The DDS-3 had a capacity of up to 12 GB of uncompressed storage space. This was three times the space of the previous DDS tape drive option. DDS-3 featured a width of 3.8mm and a tape length of 150 metres. The increase in space exists due to more of the tape being usable as storage and increased density. Unfortunately most DDS-3 readers were not designed with backwards compatibility. This potentially rendered older DDS disks, such as the DDS-2, obsolete.


2 DDS-4 Tape Drives

Three years following the creation of the DDS-3 tape drive, the DDS-4 came out. This new version of data storage yet again surpassed storage options exponentially. The DDS-4 features 20 GB of uncompressed storage space. The tape contents of the DDS-4 reached 150 metres, making it the longest running form of digital tape available. In all, the DDS-4 holds two-thirds the content of the DDS-3 format.


3 DAT-72 Tape Drives

HP and Certance developed the DAT-72 in 2003. The same drive is also sometimes referred to as DDS-5. It stores up to 36 GB of uncompressed space or 72 GB of compressed space. The density and length again increased. The DAT-72 included greater density, allowing up to 80 per cent more storage than its predecessor, with the tape reaching lengths of 170 metres with the DAT-72. This is the first drive named DAT, rather than DDS, though the technology remains the same.


4 DAT-160 Tape Drives

In 2007, DAT-160 entered the marketplace. The new, much larger capacity device holds up to 80 GB of compressed data and twice that in compressed storage. The DAT-160 features a slightly smaller roll of tape than the DAT-72, with measurements of 154 metres long, and an overall increase in density.


5 DAT-320 Tape Drives

In 2009, the DAT-320 tape drive came into fruition. DAT-320 drives feature an ultra-high capacity of 160 GB of uncompressed data and up to 320 GB of compressed. Again the length of tape in metres decreased with the DAT-320, coming in at 153 metres. However, density and storage space continue to grow at alarming rates.


The DAT Tape Drive

DAT and DDS tape drive names are used virtually interchangeably. In fact, many refer to the DAT-72 as the DDS-5. DDS stands for digital data storage, where DAT stands for digital audio tape. However, from the beginning the format was saved on a digital audio tape designed for digital data storage. Although formal names have changed, the two terms are innately synonymous with one another.

Competing Technologies

The biggest issue with digital data storage is a lack of backwards compatibility. With technological advances moving at the speed of light, forms of storage are constantly being revamped and replaced. Previous types of digital storage quickly become unreadable and worthless. The DDS/DAT format has multiple competitors including LTO, AIT, VXA, and Travan formats. All four models feature a digital tape storage format with various lengths of tape, compatibility, and storage space. In the future, several additional forms of technology are likely to come on the market. Only time can tell if the dilemma of lacking-permanence faced with digital data storage can ever reach resolute.
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