What is Near-Line Storage?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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Near-line storage is any medium that is used to copy and store data from the hard drive to a source that is easily retrieved. This type of data storage option has been around for decades, beginning with the large mainframes or electronic brains of the 1940’s and continuing on through the advent of the personal computer. Over the years, the capacity and efficiency of near-line storage options has improved greatly.

There are essentially three common examples of near-line storage. Magnetic tape is one of the oldest formats still in use. The tape is available in formats that work with a wide range of large systems and are frequently used to create backup files for corporations on a daily basis. The tapes are easily stored and can be used to reload the most recently saved information in the event of a system failure. Magnetic tapes also function as an excellent electronic history, making it possible to research when a given bit of data was entered into the system.


The second type of near-line storage is the magnetic disk. Developed for use with personal computers, examples of the magnetic disk include the 3.5-inch diskettes that are now considered obsolete in many quarters, as well as disks developed for specific purposes such as storing a large quantity of zipped files. Since the early 21st century, most desktop and laptop computers have discontinued the installation of a magnetic disk drive, although mainframes sometimes still make use of some type of magnetic disk.

As the most recent innovation in removable storage options, the CD provides a lot of storage in a small space. The CD encompasses different formats for different file saving activity. The CDR or CD recordable makes it possible to copy a wide range of text and similar type documents. The CD rewritable or CD-RW makes it possible to easily load data onto the disk and also to load the data to another system with ease. The digital versatile disc rewritable or DVD-RW allows the copying of all types of media, including video.

One of the advantages of near-line storage is that these devices offer a means of protecting data from harm. This includes keeping the data free from viruses or bugs that may infect the hard drive at some point. While the hard drive may become corrupted and damage files loaded on the drive, data housed on near-line storage devices remains unaffected and can be used to reload the hard drive once the system is cleansed of any type of malware.

Another benefit of near-line storage is the fact that this storage option is extremely inexpensive. Individuals and small companies find that utilizing these simple data storage devices provides a great deal of security and peace of mind without requiring any type of ongoing expense. Once the device is purchased and the storage of data is complete, the information can be filed in a cabinet or a drawer and restored when and as needed.

In the event that a near-line storage device is used frequently to load and unload data, it is a good idea to scan the disk or tape with some type of antivirus software before commencing the activity. There is always the slight possibility that the medium became infected when used last. Scanning and removing any viruses or other potentially damaging files will ensure the virus does not have the chance to proliferate to other systems in the network.


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