Yes. Buy several, so you have a set of spare parts.
} > reliable
Mature technology. Built to be used in data centers, not toys like
I think "notorious" is a more accurate term than "mature". The 8200 is
The drives seem to wear out. It is not just the heads, which have
an official lifetime stated in tape-motion-hours, but other unknown
parts of the drives that go bump in the night. I used to send 8200s
back to the factory for repair, get them back in top operating
condition, and then watch the soft error rate slowly climb back
up to unacceptable levels in a period of months.
I suspect the drives would be ok if they received continuous massive
preventive maintenance, like computer equipment was supposed to get
once upon a time.
There is another problem. The medium is not that robust. I once
tried to read archival 8200 tapes of various ages, just to see if
it could be done. The tapes had been kept in an air conditioned
machine room for since having been written. I found that I could
only read (without error) only about half of the tapes that were
about 3 years old. I honestly don't know if I would have had much
better luck with 9-track open-reel tape or with Babylonian clay
tablets, though the total number of bits lost would certainly have
been much smaller.