A magnetically coated strip of plastic on which data can be encoded. Tapes for computers are similar to tapes used to store music.
Storing data on tapes is considerably cheaper than storing data on disks. Tapes also have large storage capacities, ranging from a few hundred kilobytes to several gigabytes. Accessing data on tapes, however, is much slower than accessing data on disks. Tapes are sequential-access media, which means that to get to a particular point on the tape, the tape must go through all the preceding points. In contrast, disks are random-access media because a disk drive can access any point at random without passing through intervening points.
Because tapes are so slow, they are generally used only for long-term storage and backup. Data to be used regularly is almost always kept on a disk. Tapes are also used for transporting large amounts of data.
Tapes come in a variety of sizes and formats.
Tapes are sometimes called streamers or streaming tapes.