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The 'T' word

COW Forums : Archiving and Back-Up

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Charles WannopThe 'T' word
by on Sep 15, 2010 at 12:27:34 am

Mr Taxman is funding a new Caldigit Elements array for my 2009 MacPro, He (or She - sorry) may also get to buy me a NAS as an offline vault for storing those projects that *may* come back for tweaking, or are in limbo for what ever reason. But I suspect (and after much trolling through the forums) there is still a requirement for a truly archival type of storage. I am only a start-up one-man-band doing corporate and motor-sport production but even at 720p I am amassing what feels like huge amounts of data. My current solution is a mirrored 1.5TB external drive with timemachine as a real-ish time backup for working files and a shelf full of WD 1TB external drives (main and clone for each client) that gather dust until needed - I have been giving the client the clone drive as an off-site backup just in case of fire/theft/natural disaster.
So my question is - "What about Tape?" Is it still an option? Is it affordable (Sorry Bob, I freely admit my limited budget and the compromises that it dictates, but it would be good to have a goal that I can plan for when the cash permits).


Charles.


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Walter SoykaRe: The 'T' word
by on Sep 16, 2010 at 1:52:35 pm

[Charles Wannop] "So my question is - "What about Tape?" Is it still an option? Is it affordable?"

Yes, tape is still an option. Now that everyone is acquiring tapelessly, we no longer have camera masters to rely on for re-digitizing old projects, so there's a lot of renewed interest in data tape backup. As for affordability -- I suppose that depends on your budget!

A lot of production companies are using LTO4 (or the newer LTO5 format, released a couple months ago). Cache-A Archive Appliances are boxes that all of the work for you; if you'd prefer to roll out your own hardware, BRU is a popular software solution.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Bob ZelinRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 16, 2010 at 6:44:58 pm

Hi -
I am reviewing the amazing Cache-A Prime LTO4 right now (it's on my desk), and it is amazing (but it is expensive - 7 grand). It is very easy to use, and does exactly what you want it to do (except put a hole in your wallet).

If you have any specific questions about the Cache-A, just ask !

Bob Zelin



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Walter SoykaRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 16, 2010 at 7:02:48 pm

[Bob Zelin] "If you have any specific questions about the Cache-A, just ask !"

I've got three:

How does it handle backups larger than included hard drive?

What metadata is available in the searchable user-interface?

If you have happened to have also used a BRU-based solution, how do they compare?

Thank you, Bob.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Bob ZelinRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 17, 2010 at 2:03:09 pm

I am no expert but -

How does it handle backups larger than included hard drive?

REPLY - you can span the tapes, so when you run out of room, it will request the next tape. It states in the manual that for fastest results, you should backup folders from 20 - 60Gigs at a time. As you know, archiving 800 gigs (they say don't exceed 720 gigs) to the tape will take HOURS. So I can't imagine that archiving an entire 16TB array is realistic. You do what you do now with SATA drives - backup your projects, not the entire array. But if you want to backup the entire array - the tapes will span - this is part of the software interface, that allows this to happen.

What metadata is available in the searchable user-interface?
REPLY - remember that the CacheA has an internal drive. You are copying your media to an internal SATA drive (or drives) inside the Cache-A. Once this is done, the transfer from this internal drive to the tape happens in the background. When you examine the "VTape" which is the internal drive in the Cache-A, it appears as a single drive on your MAC desktop (just like a firewire drive). You can search it in the MAC browser, or with Spotlight, or with a program like CAT DV. When you pop in a tape to restore, the table of contents (TOC) appears in the Cache-A GUI. You decide what you want to restore, and simply drag it to the VTape, which brings it into the internal hard drive (VTAPE) of the Cache-A. This is sitting on your desktop. You can now drag thiese restored files anywhere you want - no different than you woudl with a firewire drive.



If you have happened to have also used a BRU-based solution, how do they compare?

I am reading about BRU Producers Edition right now. I have never tried it. It looks like they have made it much simplier, with a normal MAC interface. And the price is thousands less than the Cache-A, but your connection is USB2 or SAS (which requires a SAS card). They have bundles that have an ATTO sas card with the BRU PE system, but now it's on a local computer - its not on your network, iike the Cache A is. The CacheA hooks up via ethernet, and EVERYONE in your facility on the network can see and mount the Cache-A, just like it's a firewire drive (or NAS - it is a NAS, because it is a network drive).

I have to ASSUME that the BRU solution, or any direct attached solution would bog down the computer, or server as it is doing a backup, because there is no cache to act as a buffer. When you drag your files to the Cache-A, its literally going to a hard drive. The transfer to tape happens in the backtground (unattended - the editor does not see this happening, unless you look at the CACHE-A GUI). With a tape, its a real time transfer to the tape, which I have to assume is a LOT slower. so I ASSUME that if you have the BRU bundle solution, you should do your big backups AT NIGHT, or before you go home, so you are not bogging down the processing power of your MAC.

As with everything, there is always a tradeoff when you try to save money. This is no different when you see posts on these forums, when people expect a $75 internal SATA drive to perform like an external RAID 5 array with 16 drives in it.

bob Zelin



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Walter SoykaRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 17, 2010 at 2:09:45 pm

Thanks for your reply, Bob. I've learned a ton from you, going back to the Avid-L, and I sincerely appreciate all the time and knowledge you've shared.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Charles WannopRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 16, 2010 at 10:58:39 pm

Thanks Bob, I just checked the price locally and it is looking more like $12 grand (with a few tapes thrown in) so pretty scary BUT the whole appliance idea seems sooo much better than a bare drive attached to a server... Please excuse my ignorance but how portable are LT04 tapes across different drives and (apart from obvious management/interface differences) software?

Thanks,

Charles


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Bob ZelinRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 17, 2010 at 1:50:50 pm

Hi Charles -
I am not an expert on this subject, but according to Cache-A, the LTO4 tapes are completely compatible with other LTO 4 appliances. Specifically, if someone used Bru to create the LTO 4 tape, this would be compliant with the Cache - A, which means you allegedly can stick in your BRU made LTO4 drive in a CacheA, and it would read it.

The CacheA LTO4 Prime is $6995 retail. The more expensive products that you refer to are the larger LTO5 with a larger internal drive structure. For example, you can get the CacheA Pro with a LTO5 and 4TB of internal drivves. But if all you want is the standard LTO4 CacheA box with the 1 TB internal drive, this is $6995. You can get LTO4 tapes from any mail order computer catalog company on the web. You don't need to have them "thrown in". And when you buy the Cache-A, they give you a cleaning tape, and one Fujitsu cartridge.

Bob Zelin



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Charles WannopRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 17, 2010 at 11:14:56 pm

Sorry Bob, I should have mentioned that I am in Australia :-)
My dollars don't work as well as yours :-(
The local distributor (great people who supplied my KiPro) show a discounted price of $11,257 for the Prime http://www.new-media.com.au/Cache-A-Prime-Cache-LTO-4-Archive-Appliance.htm...
I really don't blame the locals (in THIS case) and I wouldn't think of grey-marketing a device that I might need fast support on if something went wrong.

Charles


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Tom GoldbergRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 22, 2010 at 11:50:58 pm

Cache-A here... Thank you Bob for helping to spread the word about our products. I'd like to clear up a few minor points here.

How does it handle backups larger than included hard drive?

Users can archive directly to tape from network attached storage or from volumes plugged directly into our systems over USB, eSATA or FireWire (USB only on Prime). This allows a single action to archive a volume of any size spanning as many tapes as required. And, oh by the way, that 20-60GB session note in the manual is out of date - we now handle this automatically behind the scenes (as of v1.2.3 - Bob, please be sure you have this release).


What metadata is available in the searchable user-interface?

In addition to file, folder and tape names, we allow users to add 2 free-form text fields worth of virtually unlimited text to tag any file or folder and to be included in user searches. You can even add metadata to files in the catalog and it will be added back into that tape's TOC (table of contents) when the system next sees it. These facilities will be enhanced further in future releases.


"according to Cache-A, the LTO4 tapes are completely compatible with other LTO 4 appliances"

Unfortunately this is not the case. To the best of my understanding, Bru, like Retrospect, BackupExec and most other back-up applications, write in a proprietary format that can not be read without the software used to write it.
Our tapes are written with the Unix/Linux standard tar format - this means that they can be read by any other system that support POSIX tar (which is any Linux/Unix computer or Macs/PCs with appropriate software installed). Further, we can only automatically read tapes written in another Cache-A system. It is possible to use a Cache-A to read a tar tape from non-Cache-A devices, but this requires a trip to terminal land. Please see our support page for tech briefs on this topic.

Charles, I'm sorry our costs are so high down under, but I can assure you that our distributor there, Intraware, can provide excellent support should you have any problems.



Tom Goldberg
Cache-A Corporation
30201 Rainbow Hill Road
Evergreen, CO 80439
mailto:tom.goldberg@cache-a.com
http://cache-a.com




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Bob ZelinRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 23, 2010 at 12:30:19 am

well, I have a Cache-A complaint. How come Cache-A can't put the current manual on the SUPPORT page as a .pdf ?

Bob Zelin



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Tom GoldbergRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 23, 2010 at 1:39:03 am

Bob,

We publish a revised manual with every software release and install it on every system with the update. We also will email a copy to anyone who requests it. Your point that it should be posted on our web site is reasonable and we will consider doing so.

-Tom


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Charles WannopRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 23, 2010 at 2:09:47 am

Hi Tom,
Thanks for taking the time to respond, but I just can't let this go by without a bit of a squawk!
$US 6,995 (Bob's figure) equals $AU 7,309 the list price here was $AU 11,841.36. Thats four and a half grand difference!!!! I can fly to New York ($1200) buy it over the counter and fly home again and still have change.. a lot of change. Someone somewhere is gouging. Or you are not allowing sufficient margin for your dealers to make an honest living. It may be that the US market is sufficiently lucrative that you don't care about overseas sales (and that's fine - it's your business). But please don't expect me to swallow the "Great Service" line with that sort of price gap. And don't expect a huge number of sales down here, the fact is we are a small market, but this does nothing to open it up.
There! I feel better now...

Respectfully,

Charles.


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Bob ZelinRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Sep 23, 2010 at 12:50:42 pm

why buy it from your local dealer? Buy in in the US, have it shipped to you, and WE will help you support it (and so will Cache-A) - it's really easy, the documentation is great, and a long distance phone call to US Cache-A support is a lot cheaper than a flight to the US, or getting ripped off by your local dealer.

We recently installed an entire shared storage solution for "The Solid State" in Australia, and did the entire install via Apple iChat, and it worked great, and they did not get "ripped off" by any local dealers.

Bob Zelin



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Bob ColeRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:41:47 pm

Just discovered this forum, and am so glad the COW has created it.

As for a lower-budget solution: if you have a fast network & an old (SCSI-capable) PC lying around, you can get a far-less-expensive LTO drive, add it to the PC, hook into your Mac via the network, and you're done - for a fraction of the price of the "right way to do it." Mine is an HP LTO3 external drive, current cost about $2k (US).

I would love to have the Cache-A, LTO5, and hope to have it some day. But if I had the choice between no LTO backup and LTO3, I'd take the LTO3.

Good luck. Those hard drives are NOT an archive, just a disappointment waiting to happen.

Bob C


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Tom GoldbergRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Apr 22, 2011 at 3:08:35 pm

Bob, I totally agree that any way you can get your content onto data tape, you are better protected than with hard drives. But, I'd have to take issue with your statement:
[Bob Cole] "add it to the PC, hook into your Mac via the network, and you're done"

What software are you going to use to write to that tape? How are you going to keep track of what content you put on what tape. The challenges associated with finding and recovering a single clip from your archive in such a solution make the effort questionable.

I'd also ask, how long did it take you to source that tape drive? To install it with appropriate drivers? To install and get up and running on your archive software? How much did that software cost? How long to develop an adequate workflow that gets your edit workstation content onto that PC? How much time and effort to archive a complete project? How much is your time worth?

We call this a "roll your own" archiving solution, and I've written a white paper that goes into the approach in more depth (go here to get your copy). Yes, $6k is a lot of money for our entry LTO-4 product, but it solves all of these issues with a single appliance-like box that connects to your network, gives you a dead simple drag-and-drop means to archive anything, keeps track of every file on every one of your tapes, and lets you get back that single clip almost as easily as if it were on a hard drive.

Tom Goldberg
Cache-A Corporation
602 Park Point Drive
Golden, CO 80401
mailto:tom.goldberg@cache-a.com
http://cache-a.com




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Bob ColeRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Apr 22, 2011 at 3:20:43 pm

Tom, it should have taken me forever, because I am not an expert. But my Retrospect software (which I already owned) recognized the drive, works across the network, and can find and restore any file or folder quite rapidly. I admit that I did waste a lot of time at first, transferring files to the PC's hard drive, before I realized that the software worked across the network.

As for what my time is worth, thank you for the compliment! I'd like you to take that up with my clients. Maybe you could make a better case than I have, lately!

I absolutely lust after your company's solutions. If I were paying an assistant to manage data, I would be a customer, because it would pay off very rapidly.


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Tom GoldbergRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on Apr 22, 2011 at 4:00:07 pm

Well thank you for the compliment as well Bob.

It sounds like Retrospect has come a long since I last looked. I would note that your Retrospect tapes are still written in their proprietary format only readable by a copy of that software... and they are now on their third (or is it their 4th?) owner now with Roxio.

We write with tar format, and open standard that's been around since the 70's. And with our next release and on LTO-5 drives our appliances will have the option of writing with the new LTFS open standard.

Tom Goldberg
Cache-A Corporation
602 Park Point Drive
Golden, CO 80401
mailto:tom.goldberg@cache-a.com
http://cache-a.com




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Les FitzpatrickRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on May 1, 2011 at 7:35:10 pm

Tom of Cache-A, have you any thoughts to share regarding AXF (Archive Xchange format)?

Thank you all for adding to my modest enlightenment around archival solutions.


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Tom GoldbergRe: The 'T' word - now Cache-A
by on May 5, 2011 at 9:32:50 pm

Hi Les,

AXF seems to have come and gone and come again... it is our understanding that it is still in SMPTE committee and is not even an RP yet. Also we believe the principle adopters will only be the 1 or 2 companies participating in the specification.

Cache-A will certainly continue to watch this development closely and add this to our bag of tricks if it looks like it will bring real benefits to our customers. If any readers of this thread are fans of AXF, we'd like to hear about it.

Tom Goldberg
Cache-A Corporation
602 Park Point Drive
Golden, CO 80401
mailto:tom.goldberg@cache-a.com
http://cache-a.com




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