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At the beginning of the home computing era, backing up your data meant using a floppy disk. Enclosed in a protective plastic case, this thin sheet of magnetic storage medium could store text documents. The 5¼” disk used by Apple in 1980 had a capacity of 140kB — enough to store a term paper. As computing advanced, the floppy was replaced by smaller, cheaper, better-protected 3½” hard disks that could store even more data, including images and software. Even so, a software package or larger project required a set of multiple disks. Next came CDs. Then came USB-pluggable external drives, in ever-increasing storage capacities and ever-shrinking packages. Cloud-based storage has rendered all of these obsolete for the average computer user. But many institutions, servers, and data centers still need a backup system for their data.

IBM has now developed a new magnetic tape cartridge that can store 330 TB of uncompressed data. That is roughly enough storage for 330 million books, in a package about the size of a cell phone.

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