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which LTO6 drive to buy?

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Rachael Busher
which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Jan 25, 2018 at 5:15:03 am

I'm just trying to scour the web a bit more for any other advice or educated opinions to help me figure out the subject title. ☺ I'm planning on buying an LTO6 drive no later than the Feb-March window. What I can't determine is whether to simply buy based exclusively on price (around $1500 or so when I checked recently) or whether there are any critical specifications or features which would encourage me to get one over the other.


About the only things for sure:
- Less expensive is better unless there's a good reason, i'm still working through college and not doing enough work to justify LTO7 or anything (but have dozens of terabytes of older data i'd rather migrate off, and the economics of LTO6 make more sense than LTO5 at the sweet spot)
- Want to use SAS specifically as a controller, probably favoring external if prices similar
- Ability to write at slower rates (than other LTO6 drives) is a plus but apparently it's a standard they can all do equally well down to 55MB/sec or so?
- Ideal if it works under Win, Mac, and Lin. Would like to be able to back up other systems than just my own. (borrow for friends to use etc, another reason for external)

Are there other questions I should be asking? Features not on all drives? Specifications that differ in some meaningful way? Or are they all basically the same? :-/


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Tim Jones
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Jan 25, 2018 at 3:36:57 pm

The LTO-6 drives are all on equal footing so far as the technology is concerned, so the brand of the drive is less important that the company that you buy FROM. As for where it works, the drive will work anywhere there is a proper connection, so OS platform is not a question.

The real question is one of software to drive the unit. Unlike a disk drive, you can't simply plug a tape drive (any type of tape drive) into a computer and have it work. You need some sort of software to utilize it. Whether that's the kernel drivers and tar or cpio on Solaris or Linux, LTFS on Windows, BRU or PreRoll Post on Mac OS, you need some type of tape-specific software to actually use the tape drive.

So, when you decide who to buy the unit FROM, check what you get in the package from that seller. The drive by itself is of no use without the entire package - drive, cables, HBAs, media, and software.

Tim
--
Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
http://www.tolisgroup.com
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!


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Ju Dor
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Jan 27, 2018 at 8:01:20 am

Well actually, I have read that for LTO-6 drives, the cache on the HH (Half Height) drives is twice as small as the cache on FH (Full Height) Drives, which results in lower performance.
So at the current price of LTO-6 drives (they are cheap because LTO-8 is only 1 generation backwards compatible...) , make sure you get a Full Height one.

This is not a concern on LTO-7 drives by the way, where HH and FH drives all have the same cache anyway.


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Jan 27, 2018 at 3:41:51 pm

I have used HH drives to backup many petabytes of data to LTO-6 tapes. And, have worked on FH drives only occasionally. But I haven't seen any difference in backup speed between either.
One whole LTO-6 tape takes about 4 hrs to write and 2 to verify. It goes down to 6 write and 3 verify if the source drives are slow. Or if you are backing up a large number of small files.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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Tim Jones
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Jan 28, 2018 at 12:08:01 am

I can state without a doubt that there is no performance difference in the LTO-6 drives. You are correct that there was a speed difference for the FH LTO-4 and LTO-5 types, but it was due to a tape spooling difference rather than a cache size difference.

If your backup app can keep the drive spinning, you'll not see a difference with 6 FH vs HH. Plus, I don't know of a source for a non-used FH drive any longer.

Tim
--
Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
http://www.tolisgroup.com
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!


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Rachael Busher
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:14:15 am

Well i'm all ears, you can recommend specific other sellers especially if prices for packages are competitive, curious what the package difference is though - I prefer to pick my own SAS card (because i'm using it for other things), I assumed at least LTFS was free for DL because that's implied everywhere, cables are just... cables... so I order one with the drive, and tapes i'll be ordering by the boxload soon enough.


Publically working through this - since i'm a newbie hopefully someone can give me a headcheck if I have a misunderstanding anywhere. Keep in mind i'm both still in college and not working on enough volume that hundreds of dollars is irrelevant to me for a minor enough inconvenience, I just have to migrate a few dozen TB of data to start, not petabytes.


If I can mention specific places I just have somewhere called BackupWorks bookmarked for now and I see half height internal dedicated LTO6 drives for like $1650 by Quantum for the TC-L62AN-BR-C and $1740 by IBM TS2260 which says it has dual SAS ports plus Ethernet. (does this mean it can be read/written through Ethernet instead of SAS else what would it be for, or connected to two separate computers with their own SAS cards? Or does the SAS just let you chain to something else after? I mean I sort of understand how SAS works, I just dont know how this specific DRIVE works/what is implied by them mentioning dual "SAS ports" because I don't see why it should need it.) HP is like $500 more and I see no critical difference in features. Other models for LTO6 are notably more expensive but I see no real feature differences.

I'm pretty set on LTO6 for now - throwing the numbers into a spreadsheet it's not worth another $500-700 for an LTO7 drive vs the ROI because by the time media might be cheaper for it, i'd have to upgrade my NAS drives to feed it. I'd rather jump two gens to LTO8 (and use LTO7 media formatted m8) when it's time upgrading NAS and tape drive all at once, probably once LTO9 is out and prices drop in a few years. $500-700 can get me a GPU or SSD upgrade or second dSLR for two camera shoots, it's not throwaway money.


Anyway i'm shopping for price alone and these are the two least expensive right now and it beats amazon and I dont trust saving $100 on ebay from an unknown supplier. I'm not willing to trust barely less expensive on something refurbished or an unknown supplier but willing to look at other suppliers - just didn't see many others in my searching. Ebay prices on the IBM are notably more for some reason, is it in any way a better drive and worth the $90 extra from BUW? I assume they will all write from single drives "as low as 55MB/sec" without shoeshining, which is lower than any drive I want to back up from. Two of the drives list a 512MB cache, so that's about 9 seconds of buffering of small files.


Externals of either are about $300 more and i'm not willing to pay that right much more, I originally assume this just fit in a half height 5.25 bay and used some standardized power connection but looking at dimensions on BUW i'm not sure - a different site lists the same Quantum drive with what I assume are normal 5.25 ATX case dimensions though.


One quirk I see is Macintosh not listed as a supported platform on either drive from BUW which I assumed should just be about a compatible SAS controller and some Mac version of LTFS. I would prefer having that ideally, but the only listing for sure is in an HP drive some $500 more and that's more than i'm willing to pay for Mac compatibility right now because I don't see any other reasons to buy the more expensive drive. (because if it's plugged into a Mac or multiOS I can just directly write a tape from the system drive instead of imaging over the network) At a different website the same Quantum drive at least implies Mac compatibility.


I don't have to buy overnight but my NAS is filling up at a rate that by the end of March I either add another drive or migrate old-old data off to some tapes so that's my expected buying window.


I primarily use Windows and my NAS is simple Windows so i'm just planning on using LTFS for now. (in the future I plan to get more into Linux and Mac OSX and hope to use the same drive there, probably all from the same hardware computer - the handful of times I may move the drive physically to another machine or server will be counted on one hand so I don't think i'll spring for an external)


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Jon Allen
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Mar 12, 2018 at 10:13:14 pm

Hi Rachel, I will share you my 3 month mark report from trying LTO. I chose LTO6 because its the cheapest per TB and I have a closet to store the tapes. I can understand if you are paying per square inch in a data centre why LTO7 or 8 might make more sense but there is still a higher price per TB of the media. Its the same media, its just that they use the extra profit to fund R&D. If you are a non business user like me it makes more sense to go with -6. Plus you will have more pieces of media per TB, meaning you reduce the impact of data loss from any single cartridge failing.

I got an internal HP LTO6 + generic SAS enclosure from Discount Data Mart (on ebay and the web) in Washington state. The seller Todd was very friendly and helpful. Gave me a special price just for calling. The bezel/faceplate of the drive had a small crack when it arrived and he arranged for a replacement to be sent out immediately which I changed out myself in a few minutes.

The best prices on media are at backupworks.com, they have good service and only sell new media. Some sellers mix new and recertified media and this can cause problems down the road. I pay $25 usd for factory fresh Fuji BaFe LTO6.

Given that all generations of LTO drive are easily obtainable and serviced by multiple independent companies, it is not valid to argue for future compatibility by buying LTO7. When you are ready to upgrade you will use your drive to offload the tape data to disk, and then back out again to whatever future technology you choose.

Re: Software - I went with BRU PE because it does not use the buggy LTFS, instead it uses their own file system with extra redundancy checking. They were having some issues with Apple's updates breaking certain things but its fixed now. In any event as long as you stick to OS 10.12.6 you will be fine.

Re: Noise - if you have not used a tape drive before you will want to get a 5 meter SAS cable to put it behind a door or something. Two motors, one constantly accelerating, one constantly decelerating. Its exquisitely awful.


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Tim Gerhard
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Feb 8, 2018 at 8:48:01 pm

LTO6 FH vs HH there is no difference. The FHs were just made for certain tape libraries because they only fit FH drives in them etc.

All external /internal drives have gone HH for the SAS variant.

We sell new and refurbished LTO drives at Magnext, so give us a call when you're looking to buy.

Tim Gerhard
Magnext
614-433-0011 x114
tgerhard@magnext.com


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Ju Dor
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Feb 18, 2018 at 9:31:46 am

Bear in mind if you get LTO6, that you will probably want to migrate at a later date to something better (and faster...)

So if you're writing a very small number of tapes that's ok, but if you have a larger quantity of data, you will be migrating from a 160 mb/s media to something much faster, thus creating a bottleneck and wasting a lot of time in the process. Not worth skimping on a few hundred quid to get an LTO 7 drive in my opinion.
I am still waiting to invest into LTO7 and have been holding off LTO6.

If you can't afford to buy into a technology, hold off until it becomes affordable or until you can afford it.
Furthermore, LTO8 onwards are NOT compatible with LTO6 by the way, which makes LTO7 all the more attractive right now, as it's the perfect bridge between past-present and future storage.
My 2c


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Jerzy Zbyslaw
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Feb 21, 2018 at 6:27:46 am

Regarding "- Less expensive is better unless there's a good reason" then consider a used device rather than a brand new one and preferably an external as they tend to have less usage than an internal unit.

Regarding "Want to use SAS specifically as a controller" I'd suggest not disregarding FC (fibre channel) as these can be powered by a cheap controller e.g. hundreds of 4Gb's QLE2462's on sale for as low as $20 on Ebay and an LC to LC cable can be bought for about $10 to plug into both the controller and an FC tape drive. Faster cards like the 8 Gb's QLE2562 cost around $100 and 16 Gb's QLE2662 cost several hundred but neither of these are necessary. The main advantage of FC LTO drives is that they tend to be cheaper than the SAS variants I presume because it is "funkier" technology and non-enterprise orientated people probably aren't as familiar with them. SAS is better because the controllers tend to be 8 ports so you can also attach other SATA/SAS drives to them whereas the FC card I mentioned only has 2 ports (although a 4 port QLE2464 does exist) and still takes up one computer slot either way. I installed this QLE2462 card into my Windows 7 machine and it installed the drivers automatically without any problems and my used LTO-6 drive works well.

Regarding "Bear in mind if you get LTO6, that you will probably want to migrate at a later date to something better (and faster...)" possibly, but this is only going to be an issue if say you have perhaps more than 100 TB to store or your retrieval time window from tape is a lot smaller.

Regarding "So if you're writing a very small number of tapes that's ok, but if you have a larger quantity of data, you will be migrating from a 160 mb/s media to something much faster, thus creating a bottleneck and wasting a lot of time in the process. Not worth skimping on a few hundred quid to get an LTO 7 drive in my opinion.
I am still waiting to invest into LTO7 and have been holding off LTO6." I don't see the point in getting an LTO7 over an LTO6 as it's still 5-6 hours to write a full tape although with LTO6 you will need to do 2.4 times as many operations (6TB Vs 2.5TB) and the main reason is that the cost of tape is the same per terabyte. If anything an LTO8 drive costing three grand as opposed to an LTO7 drive costing two grand is a better bet because firstly you'll be amortizing the cost over the next several years anyway and an LTO7 cartridge formatted to LTO-8M format holding 9TB is very cheap storage compared to all the other LTO-5/6/7 options available especially if your going to be adding more tens or hundreds of terabytes to tape over these next couple of years.

Regarding "If you can't afford to buy into a technology, hold off until it becomes affordable or until you can afford it.
Furthermore, LTO8 onwards are NOT compatible with LTO6 by the way, which makes LTO7 all the more attractive right now, as it's the perfect bridge between past-present and future storage." That's mostly an irrelevant point because it really only affect tape libraries storing thousands of tape cartridges which also hold the maximum ten or twenty tape drives and what happens is that they can't hold any more so when they do upgrade they rip all of those drives out of the library in one go and replace them with LTO-(N+2) drives and proceed to convert all the LTO-N tapes they have over to LTO-(N+2) new tapes. This is not an issue for SOHO users because they can quite comfortably have an LTO6 drive sitting in their PC right next to an LTO8/9/10 drive to solve this supposed problem.

Finally, if using LTO6 give the MP (Metal Particle) tapes a miss and just use the BaFe (Barium Ferrite) ones as they are much better technology in every way for not much more cost.


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Tim Gerhard
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Mar 8, 2018 at 11:59:17 pm

Standalone internal drives aren't really made in FC, except for IBM enterprise users, which it's hard just to buy anything from IBM unless you're throwing down a 10 million dollar order.

The mainstream LTO standalone drives are all SAS now. FC can be found on tape loader/library drives, but they have to be powered through a loader/library tray unless you do a funky custom build.

Tim Gerhard
Magnext
614-433-0011 x114
tgerhard@magnext.com


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Jerzy Zbyslaw
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Mar 9, 2018 at 8:44:32 am

LTO FC stand alone drives are still readily available although unless someone already has FC in their server then it probably is preferable to buy them new in the SAS format, alternatively people may wish to relocate the drive further away like e.g. 20 or 50 meters which FC cabling allows especially if they do not want the unit close by and having to suffer the equivalent of constant VCR rewinding noise if its operating in the machine right next to you or as an external nearby. As I stated previously I only bought a used FC version on Ebay because it was several hundred dollars cheaper than what an equivalent SAS one would have cost me.

The firm that makes them in both FC and SAS formats is Tandberg Data and these are the FC models currently available (click the "Models" link)

http://www.tandbergdata.com/us/index.cfm/products/tape-drives/lto-drives/lt...
3524-LTO LTO-5 HH Internal Drive, FC, Bare LTO-5 HH - Internal bare tape drive kit, black, FC, with Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card, Screws, Black
3530-LTO LTO-5 HH External Drive, FC, Bare LTO-5 HH - External bare tape drive kit, black, FC, with Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card, Screws, Black

http://www.tandbergdata.com/us/index.cfm/products/tape-drives/lto-drives/lt...
3536-LTO LTO-6 HH Internal Drive, FC, Bare LTO-6 HH - Internal bare tape drive kit, black, FC, with Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card, Screws, Black
3537-LTO LTO-6HH External Drive, FC, Bare LTO-6 HH - External bare tape drive kit, black, FC, with Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card, Screws, Black

http://www.tandbergdata.com/us/index.cfm/products/tape-drives/lto-drives/lt...
TD-LTO7iFC LTO-7 HH Internal Drive, FC, Bare Tandberg Data LTO-7 HH Internal FC tape drive with 3yrs OverlandCare Bronze-Level included

They appear to be relabeled HP drives as they provide mostly HP software for them although I have no idea how different they are but they do identify as TandbergData drives and not HP drives in my PC. I ordinarily would not have considered them for purchase but they make their software and firmware freely available unlike HP who tend to only make that available to you if you have the drive under the current warranty period or otherwise under a service agreement so that definitely is a strong point in Tandberg's favor especially if like me you buy them second hand.


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Tim Gerhard
Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?
on Mar 12, 2018 at 7:46:24 pm

I suppose I forgot about Tandberg. They were bought out by Overland a couple years ago and then Overland was bought out by Sphere3D. Tandberg drives were all HP OEM'd before, but now all LTO7+ are IBM OEM'd. Quantum is the dominating force when it comes to standalone drives these days, they do the large volumes, and have the lowest prices for new product from my experience.

I remember trying to buy the Tandberg LTO5 FC Internals, but the lead times were astronomical. I checked all the distributors for the newer drives and 0 stock. I think Tandberg is only around for the loyal German market these days with their merged Overland NEOS Tandberg T series libraries.

Tandberg also probably the only company that still toots about using RDX. Must be popular in Europe, because it's almost nearly abandoned in the US.

Tim Gerhard
Magnext
614-433-0011 x114
tgerhard@magnext.com


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