|A tape drive is contained in a sealed metal housing. Electronics in the drive, such as read/write heads, allow it to copy data from a hard disk onto magnetic tapes placed inside the drive. These tapes can hold hundreds of megabytes, or even gigabytes, of data and can hold copies of entire hard disks. Tape backup software usually compresses data as it stores it, so you can hold much more data on a tape backup than you can on an equivalently sized hard drive. Entire hard drives can be copied onto one or multiple tapes.|
|The tape drive, inside its sealed metal housing, fits into a drive bay on a computer. Drive bays come in three-inch and five-inch sizes, as do tape drives.|
|Tape drives can also be installed outside your computer, in their own cases. These drives connect to your computer using the parallel port, a proprietary card, or a SCSI interface.
|The internal tape drive gets its power from the power supply. It connects to the power supply by a cable and connector that plugs into the tape drive. Most tape drives will connect with the larger 4-pin connector notched so that it will fit only one way.|
|A controller inside the computer sends instructions back and forth between your PC and the tape drive, sending data to be stored, or asking for information to be retrieved.|
|The controller sends and receives information to and from the tape drive via a ribbon cable. A connector at each end of the cable plugs into the tape drive and into the controller. In some cases, you'll use your existing hard drive IDE cable, in others you'll use your existing floppy cable, and in yet other cases you'll be given a cable to connect to the tape drive. There are also SCSI and external connections. Check your documentation to see which yours requires.|