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I know that there are tape backup systems available. I do not know how they work.

Can I use an audio tape recorder and audio tapes (like the 60/90 minute kind) and backup data somehow? (Pardon my n00bness, I've never done tape backups before.)

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It might be possible – old PCs like C64 used audio tapes as primary storage mechanism – but I doubt it's possible to reliably store large amounts of data on a medium designed for audio. – grawity Mar 3 '13 at 15:49
@grawity: You were faster, but same Link ;) – mpy Mar 3 '13 at 15:55
Also in early 90s there was a popular tape backup system for PC using home VCR - 3hr tape would hold about 2Gb of uncomressed data. – Alex P. Mar 3 '13 at 16:11
Its my understanding Windows 7 does not support this tape backups. So even if this were possible the operating system your using wouldn't support it. – Ramhound Mar 3 '13 at 17:43
Eeew! just eeew! Shades O' Radio Shack TRS-80. Low quality, unreliable storage for a negligible amount of data, not worth even considering in this day and age. Yes, I've been there, no need to revisit it except for historical interest. There's a reason we moved to floppy disks and QIC tapes. Let's resurrect the old analog phone modem where you dropped the handset into the cradle. 300 baud anyone? – Fiasco Labs Mar 3 '13 at 17:57

You can and that was very common in the 80th: Datasette (Wikipedia), but nowadays you won't be satisfied with a storage capacity in the order of 1MB. For a review of modern Tape Storage format, also see Wikipedia.

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Holy crap! An Audiocassette might store 1Mb of data. I remember those days. I don't remember anything resembling that capacity. Though, I guess materials must have improved a lot since then. – killermist Mar 3 '13 at 23:26
@killermist: I wrote "in the order of" ;) According to cited article "Datasettes could typically store about 100 kByte per 30 minute side. The use of turbo tape and other fast loaders increased this number to roughly 1000 kByte." – mpy Mar 4 '13 at 10:26
Not related to the topic by much, but I remember a "high speed poke" that could be done to bump the CPU speed on the COCO2. With it, you could write faster... but FAR less reliably. And if you were able to read (at all), you could only read it back again at high speed, low speed wouldn't recognize the data at all. – killermist Mar 4 '13 at 18:03


When I was starting out on my first computers back in the 1980's this is exactly what we did.

But programs were around 16-32 kB at the very most - yes that's kilo not even mega, certainly not giga!!

And, the backups failed to restore as often as not.

And, it took AGES to both backup and restore.

These days, disk space is very cheap and even Internet based storage is fairly cheap. So use those for backups. Keep at least 2 backups of all data and they must be both automatic and located in at least 2 different locations. Don't keep all backups onsite - fire, theft, etc. will see you loose all of your backups.

Personally, I have one backup to another machine locally in the house and a second to servers in the US (I'm in the UK). Oh, backups of data should also be locally encrypted as well. For reference, I use a tool called CrashPlan.

Great question though, welcome to SuperUser.

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You're lucky. Audiocassette tape was what we stored data on before we could afford 5.25" disk drives. – killermist Mar 3 '13 at 23:23

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