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Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.

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jack wormell
Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Jun 29, 2012 at 4:32:17 pm

Hi There

I work for a small production company, I'm in charge of media management and workflow. We are building up a large quantity of external hard drives and with continuing commissions for projects will be in need or more.

Rather than using these hard drives as archive storage it seems more cost effective to start using LTO tapes for archiving and the drives for live project back ups and storage during filming/editing.

Thing is... I don't know anything about LTO tapes and have found it hard finding a clear explanation of how they work!

Would anyone be able to give me a break down of how they work, why they're useful and which one I should go for?

We have lot's of HD media know in various formats: XDCam Ex, DNxHD185, H.264 etc.

I appreciate any advice that's given.

Thanks in advance

Jack


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Frank Gothmann
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Jun 30, 2012 at 7:36:58 am

[jack wormell] "Would anyone be able to give me a break down of how they work, why they're useful and which one I should go for?"

LTO5 is perfect for long-term archival. Hard drives are more expensive and more likely to fail over a longer period.

How they work? Well, you get a tape drive, you choose how you want to back-up (ie. software you want to use to write to the tapes, or you may want to use LTFS without any software) and then you just write your files to tape.
Think of it like a dvd drive and software you use to write your data to the discs. Same here. If you're on Mac or Linux, Bru from Tollisgroup is a good choice, if you're on Win Xendata is a good choice (although there are really lots of cheaper apps that write to tape, too).

As far as drives are concerned: if you want to use LTFS (ie. backing-up without any additional software, just drag-and-drop) and you're on a Mac, HP is what you're looking for. If you're on Win you want IBM. For Linux it's pretty much all the same (also, LTFS works best with Linux).
Chache-A has also great solutions and it's super-easy and convenient but 3 times the price of a regular tape drive.
If you need more specific info... shoot.

------
"You also agree that you will not use these products for... the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
iTunes End User Licence Agreement


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jack wormell
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Jul 1, 2012 at 2:25:21 pm

Hey

Thanks a lot for this response. And yes I have some further questions:

When if I were to get just a basic 'drag and drop' drive then what are the drawbacks?

What makes HP suitable for Macs, and IBM suitable for PCs?

Why is Cache - A more pricey?

In terms of components am I write in thinking I would buy a tape drive and the buy individual tapes. Then you can hook up say an external hard drive to the LTFS drive and copy the files over? How do the files exist on the LTO tape? Digitally, and can they then be copied off them easily?

Sorry for the bombardment, I want a get a relatively rounded view of the subject before I think about buying one.

Thanks a lot for your help.

Jack


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Frank Gothmann
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Jul 3, 2012 at 1:27:41 am

- "Basic drag and drop drive":
Doesn't exist. A LTO5 drive is an LTO5 drive. What makes it "drag and drop" is LTFS, which is a file system. You can choose to format the tape with LTFS (just like you would format your hard drive) or not use LTFS at all use it with other backup-software (eg. Bru).

- HP has LTFS support for Mac and Linux but currently not for Windows. IBM has LTFS support for Windows. Note: this only applies to LTFS support. For usage with other backup programms LTFS is irrelevant and you can use any drive for which there are drivers for the actual hardware (Windows 7 supports LTO5 drives out of the box, not drivers needed. OSX needs drivers. Linux has support out of the box).

- Cache-A uses also LTO5 but they have built a but more around their solutions. Eg. network access to the drive. You simply hook it up to your network and you can backup from any machine without a SAS connection. There is more, I recomend you have a look at the specs here (http://www.cache-a.com/productsprime5.php) and think of in the same way as you'd compare a hard drive connected via Firewire or USB vs. a networked drive allowing access via various protocols.

- You cannot connect a hard drive to the tape drive. You need to connect the tape drive to your computer. Again, think of it as a dvd drive. In order to write to it you need to hook it to your computer. Then you can use whatever burn app you like to write your discs.

-Yes, digitally.
Copied off easily? Depends how you wrote them. If you used a dedicated software to write the tapes (eg. Bru) you need Bru to read them back.

------
"You also agree that you will not use these products for... the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
iTunes End User Licence Agreement


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Tim Jones
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:26:55 pm

Hi Jack,

I'm going to try and squeeze in a lot of knowledge here, so you might want to grab a cold one ... I am a vendor representative, but I try to be agnostic in my general discussions.

One very important thing to understand about tape - no matter whose - is that it is not disk. While disk is random in access nature, tape is sequential and can only be accessed in the order in which it was written by a single process / system. Additionally, all tapes require software of some sort to support their use on an average computer system - whether Windows, OS X, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX or any other. It just so happens that some OSes have the basics built into to what you receive as part of the environment.

Getting a bit technical for a moment - bear with me - Linux includes the kernel level device drivers for Type 1 SCSI devices (tape drives) and the code required to map those devices into the various data transport layers such as SAS, pSCSI, USB, Thunderbolt, Fibre Channel, and Firewire. For other OSes, some of these are handled while you'll need to add drivers for others - for example, Linux is relatively self contained. Windows has basic tape support that can be improved by installing the drive vendors' DLLs. OS X has NO native tape support and you must install some type of software to use tape.

As for tape devices, you must consider your connectivity options - for LTO your choices of connectivity are pSCSI, SAS, and Fibre Channel - the most popular interface currently is SAS (Serially Attached SCSI) due to it's performance and ease of installation and connectivity. Also, LTO-5 and later are only available in SAS and Fibre Channel. Since you don't mention your specific platform (and that does make a difference), I'll speak in generalities.

To connect an LTO drive to your system, you will need an appropriate host bus adapter (HBA) for your drive type - popular brands that support tape are ATTO Technologies, LSI Logic, and (on Linux) Adaptec. There are others, but you should check carefully for tape compatibility and your OS. While any HBA device can support the electrical connectivity required, the I/O protocols for tape are quite different than for disk. If you are using OS X, you can also take advantage of the new options in Thunderbolt connectivity.

As far as using tape. the hot topic right now is LTFS (Linear Tape File System). LTFS is a format definition and set of specialized drivers and a filesystem support module that makes an LTO-5 tape appear to your operating system as a pseudo-disk device. While this sounds good on the surface, please be aware that you will still need to locate and install the drivers appropriate for your platform and, since the project is "open source", you will need to understand that you may not be able to get tier 1 support if you run into issues unlike other tape software.

Once you do have it working, LTFS will allow you to mount a tape onto your desktop (OS X and Windows) or on an assigned mountpoint (Linux) so that you can use the simple system functions like 'cp' (OS X Linux) or 'copy' (Windows) to copy files from your system's disks to the tape and back. They will also allow you to browse the tape content from Finder or Explorer, as well as drag and drop from tape to your system and vice versa. However, because both Explorer and Finder like to get lots of info about the files in a folder as you access the folder, you will become very dissatisfied with this access method because of the time (measured in 10's of minutes on deeply nested folders) to open a folder caused by the information digging. To alleviate that issue, I recommend accessing the tape contents from the command line (dir, copy, ls, cd, cp) as the delay using those tools is only related to the tape access time. Finally, be aware that LTFS tapes are just like disk in that what you are copying onto them must fit on a single tape (1.43TB) and you cannot span tapes as with other tape software applications. While I'll admit to being anti-LTFS, I have given it a fair shake and even provided code back to the project to improve where I could. We've created an LTFS caveats list that you can view on our website here:

LTFS Caveats Knowledgebase Article

Aside from LTFS, for the best performance and tape media management, I recommend our BRU products (of course :-) ) for Linux and OS X and Novastor's NovaBACKUP for Windows. All very cost effective and proven reliable over 27 years for BRU and 20 years for NovaBACKUP.

I'm now regularly checking in at the Cow, so please feel free to ask any questions about tape, archival, and backup that you have.

Tim
--
Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group Inc.
http://www.productionbackup.com
BRU ... Because it's the RESTORE that matters


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Marshall Wetta
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Jul 23, 2012 at 11:41:16 pm

I also am a newbie to LTO devices and am in charge of all media traffic and archiving at a small LA-based production company.

I am having trouble with mounting my LTO 5 device to my iMac. My boss was able to successfully mount another LTO 5 device on a slightly more powerful iMac than the one I use, but he remembers having 2 days worth of problems before fixing an "obvious and minuscule" detail in order to get the device to work. We are having the same problem with mounting the device to my brand new iMac and we need some help.

Here is my hardware information:

iMac with OS 10.7.4 2.7GHz Intel i5 Processor; 4GB memory

Tandberg Data LTO deck with a Promise Technology converter from fibre to Thunderbolt cable using HP LTO-5 Ultrium RW data cartridges.


I have followed the HP install instructions as follows:
1. Downloaded OSXFuse because I saw that it is newer than Macfuse and has a patch to be backwards compatible with the functions of Macfuse.
2. Downloaded HPLTFS_BINARIES.dmg, opened it and installed the ICUFramework.pkg first, and then I installed the LinearTapeFileSystem.pkg
3. I opened terminal and attempted to mount an LTO tape that has already been formatted and written on.
Here is where we encountered the problem. This is the transcript of my terminal commands:

"Last login: Mon Jul 23 14:51:42 on console
Admins-iMac:~ mediamanage$ export PATH="$PATH:/usr/local/bin"
Admins-iMac:~ mediamanage$ ltfs /mnt/Users/mediamanage/Desktop/lto5
LTFS14000I LTFS starting, LTFS version 1.2.0, log level 2
LTFS14058I LTFS Format Specification version 2.0.0
LTFS14063I Sync type is "time", Sync time is 300 sec
LTFS14201E Mountpoint "/mnt/Users/mediamanage/Desktop/lto5" specified but not accessible
Admins-iMac:~ mediamanage$ mkdir /mnt/lto5
mkdir: /mnt: No such file or directory
Admins-iMac:~ mediamanage$ mkdir /mnt/Users/mediamanage/Desktop/lto5
mkdir: /mnt/Users/mediamanage/Desktop: No such file or directory
Admins-iMac:~ mediamanage$ export PATH="$PATH:/Users/mediamanage/Desktop/lto5"
Admins-iMac:~ mediamanage$ ltfs /mnt/Users/mediamanage/Desktop/lto5
LTFS14000I LTFS starting, LTFS version 1.2.0, log level 2
LTFS14058I LTFS Format Specification version 2.0.0
LTFS14063I Sync type is "time", Sync time is 300 sec
LTFS14201E Mountpoint "/mnt/Users/mediamanage/Desktop/lto5" specified but not accessible
Admins-iMac:~ mediamanage$ mkdir /mnt/ltfs
mkdir: /mnt: No such file or directory
Admins-iMac:~ mediamanage$ "


As you can see, upon any attempt to mount the tape or to create a directory in the destination folder, I am met met with a message of either "specified but not accessible" or "no such file or directory." I am truly at a loss as to what the problem might be, as we already deleted the memory and re-installed Mac OS X Lion twice already. Can anyone help us out with this???????????? PLLLLEEEEAAASSSEEE!!!


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jack wormell
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Aug 1, 2012 at 11:34:07 am

Thanks for all the info guys.

I've been reading over the posts again and I think I'm starting to get my head round it. My system by the way is a Windows XP PC with Avid Media Composer. We have a load of hard drives with old rushes on that we would like to back up on LTO for it's higher levels of sturdiness and security.

Thanks

Jack


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Robert Bracken
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Aug 14, 2012 at 4:16:30 pm

Just to jump in.
We bought the Prime Cache-A and we also bought a NAS server from Rushworks.

Both of them will work with your set up.

We purchased the products from these two companies not only for their great products but their outstanding customer service.

LTO
The LTO writes linear, you can only put one project on at a time. It writes like a tape drive. We have ours in the Cache-A format. We've had the Prime Cache-a for less than a month.


NAS Server
We haven't taken delivery on our new NAS server. Message me and I can tell you how it works.

Let me know if you have any other questions.


Take care,
Bobby


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Stephen Smith
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Jul 11, 2017 at 1:12:07 am

Since this thread is from 2012 I'm hoping there are some new and exciting options for Mac users. Any recommendations on LTO drives and software for an iMac user?

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Francis Newall
Re: Newbie to archiving with LTO tapes. I need a clear explanation and advice.
on Jul 13, 2017 at 10:37:13 am

Hey Stephen,

I can recommend the workflow at my workplace.

We use an mTape Thunderbolt LTO-6 drive (https://www.mlogic.com/products/mtape) and Quantum Ultrium 6 Data Cartridges which hold around 2,400GB of data per tape. To format and archive to these tapes we use a free LTFS software called LTFSQuicktools. Only problem I've ever had was recently, and the solution was just to not have Adobe Creative Cloud running when using these products.

It's pretty speedy - for example right now I'm copying 730GB of rushes and it's estimating an hour and a half.

Any other questions please don't hesitate to ask.

Kind regards,

Francis


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