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Affordable Easy LTO Archiving

Now that videotape and audio tape are going away, the media storage system being used by most audio and video professional is disk drives. Unfortunately, as most of us know, spinning disk drives are not very stable, and ultimately fail after a certain period of time. Once a disk drive no longer is willing to mount on our desktops, we can no longer get back the critical audio or video media that we need, usually sending us into a panic.

So most people's concern today is, "How do I safely back up my media?"

The cheapest solution is to purchase a cheap drive dock, where you can slide in inexpensive single disk drives, and back up your critical media. Move your media from one set of drives to the other every few years for maximum safety.

Another more expensive solution is to buy a redundant drive array. If you have an 8 bay or 16 bay RAID array, you buy another one, and use a cloning program (Carbon Copy Cloner, Super Duper, Chrono Sync, Shot Put Pro, etc.) to back up your media.

An even MORE expensive solution is to build what is called "near line storage," which is another entire server/disk drive system that backs up everything from your system, and can be called back to your main system. It's a little slower, which is why it's called "near" line instead of o line, but everything is available across your network when you need to recall it.

No matter what solution you choose, these choices are all based on DRIVES, and drives ultimately fail. It's not a matter of "if" – it's a matter of when. Sometimes drives can last for 5 – 6 years, other times, they will fail within the year. That does not give you a lot of confidence in the long term.

When they were first being introduced, Blu-ray disks sounded promising. With the huge amount of data storage that video professionals use, this proven to not be practical – and those too will fail eventually.

And of course, there is always "The Cloud" (Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, etc.). But for those of us dealing with terabytes of storage, this is not very practical, due to the very limited speed of the internet today.

LTO (LINEAR TAPE-OPEN)

So, we are stuck, once again, with tape. Not video tape, or audio tape, but LTO tape (Linear Tape-Open) which is used for backing up – or more accurately stated – archiving your critical media. You simply copy your disk drive media onto the LTO tape, and now you no longer have to worry if someone drops your disk drive on the floor, because tapes won't break when they are dropped or mishandled. Typical LTO tapes are expected to last 15 years.

The big question is, how much space are we talking about on a single tape?

LTO 4 holds 800 GB of data.
LTO 5 holds 1.5 TB of data.
LTO 6 holds 2.5 TB of data.
LTO 7 holds a wopping 6 TB of data (Native).

LTO ARCHIVING

LTO is true archiving. It's safe. Many people have experienced the nightmare of losing the data that is on their disk drives at some point, and the safety that LTO offers is very appealing.

Once people started using more and more media with fewer safe places to keep it, everyone started to ask, "What LTO solution should I buy?" And there were lots of choices. But most were expensive, and many were complicated to use. To compound this, many solutions were proprietary, which means that it would work wonderfully on that manufacturer's system, but if you had to send your LTO tape to a client, or a TV station that wanted the LTO tape, they couldn't read it, because it was in a format that was not compatible with their LTO system. And so the demand for a standard for LTO tapes was created, and this is called LTFS, or Linear Tape File System.

WHAT IS LTFS

LTFS is a standard developed by IBM, HP, and Quantum, and is an open source standard that has some workflow advantages over previous solutions. Rather than having to copy archived data back on to your computer, LTFS archives can be mounted as disk drives like any others. AND you can simply click on the folder structure, to see your files with an LTFS formatted LTO tape, just like a hard drive.

 

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