The Last Resort: Streamer Technolgy Overview

The Linear Method Or Helical Scan

The Helical scan uses the existing "space" best, but it is slower and more prone to disruptions than linear methods. Source: ExaByte.

Generally, there are two ways to write onto a magnetic tape: Either linear, meaning streamlined from front to back, or diagonally, a method known as Helical scan. In any case, several parallel tracks are written onto the tape in order to utilize the entire bandwidth for data storage.

The Helical scan was adopted from the video segment and is used most often in DAT systems and in AIT and VXA. As constant writing and reading is often not possible, Helical scan-based devices are much slower than models using linear methods (backhitching through fluctuating data streams). At the same time, they can use the existing tape more efficiently, meaning that the capacity per spatial unit is usually higher in Helical scan standards.

Similarly to VHS systems, the tape is pulled out of the cassette and placed around the spindle, which holds the writing and reading heads. Naturally, this procedure puts a major strain on the tape, more so than in linear recording, which permanently feeds to the tape in the cassette.