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Bob Cole
best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Dec 22, 2008 at 12:38:46 am

I have a recurrent worry that my computers will die, because I don't regularly backup. I'm hoping that I can kill two birds with one stone. The first "bird" is regular backups; the second is the need to archive video files from tapeless cameras.

So, I need help figuring out how to equip my small network with tape backup devices. Simplicity and ease of use are paramount.

We have a gigabit Ethernet network of three PCs, an Intel Mac Pro, and a MacBook Pro. (The Macs are for Final Cut/After Effects/Photoshop, while the PCs are for business, web development, DVD authoring, and some graphics. The largest files, naturally, are on the Mac Pro.)

I've decided to go to LTO tape for backup and I'd like some advice about how to do that, to meet the needs of ALL my computers.

I've narrowed the choice down to an Ethernet device, vs. one or more SCSI devices. Quantum makes an LTO3a unit which is accessible via Ethernet, but at $6500-7000, very expensive. I could buy four LTO3 SCSI internal or external drives for the price of the networkable version. The Ethernet LTO3a is MXF-aware, which is irrelevant until FCP evolves considerably. otoh, the LTO3a would be just one unit to deal with, which has its advantages. In addition, I understand there are hybrid devices of hard drives and tape backup, disk-to-disk-to-tape, such as the HP D2D100.

I have a SCSI adapter in the biggest PC, but nowhere else.

My first thought was that it would be most economical to backup all the computers, Mac and PC, through one tape drive in the SCSI-ready PC. Second thought: I don't know that Idea #1 would actually work, especially on an automated basis, so I should suck it up, buy the networkable tape backup, and say, "I'm paying for convenience." Third idea: buy a SCSI adapter for the Mac Pro, since that is the primary generator of the largest (video) files. (But I've read about "spotty SCSI support from Apple," to quote a Macgurus web page promoting their Firewire-to-SCSI adapter. What's up with that? http://www.macgurus.com/productpages/scsi/FR1SX.php)

I assume that with the advent of tapeless acquisition, archiving to tape will become more common. Does anyone have actual experience with the LTO3a drive? I assume software would be an additional expense. The idea of a daily, automatic backup of all my computers through the network is extremely appealing.

Bob C



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Gregg Jamback
Re: best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Jan 13, 2009 at 8:42:01 pm

Bob,
Did you ever come up with a solution?
I'm facing a similar situation myself - well, primarily video back up. And wondered if you had any advice.




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Bob Cole
Re: best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Jan 14, 2009 at 2:54:50 pm

Thanks for asking. I have a solution which I'm about to implement starting next week -- appreciate any comments on it.

I couldn't bring myself to pay $7000 for the ultimate solution: that Quantum Ethernet-connected box which would probably be the best for backing up the whole network, especially with something like Retrospect as the master control.

So I'm going with a kludged-together approach: lots of hard drives, one for each day of the week, one set of five for each computer, to back up the system drives; and LTO-3 tape for the video data that sits on the RAID.

Instead of the LTO-3a $7k box, I just bought an HP external LTO-3 drive (under $2k) which connects via SCSI. I'll hook it up to the HP 8200, which has a SCSI interface. The plan is to put a 1 gb drive into the HP, and over the local gigabit network, copy (rather quickly) from Mac to PC the files that need backing up. Then the HP can work away at its leisure, backing up the HP's 1 gb drive to tape. That way I can keep using the MacPro for video editing.

HP makes no guarantee about connecting it to a Mac, but I'll be experimenting with that too. I may or may not even want to do that, as I think the hard-drive to hard-drive copy is much quicker than hard-drive to tape. I got the idea for this from an HP rep, who told me about their hybrid box which integrates a hard drive for the quick back-up and tape for archiving.

It's not elegant, but in this economy, saving over $5000 is a reasonable move. I already own the hard drives, and even though I've seen one fail, I'm not too worried because I'll be exercising them regularly, and I'll have lots of copies no more than a couple days old. And the tape should be absolutely bulletproof (knock on wood) for long-term storage of video assets.

Bob



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Terren LIn
Re: best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Jan 25, 2009 at 8:33:36 am

It's been awhile, but @ work we use an ethernet connected LTO ( I believe quantum & the tapes hold about 40 to 60 gigs ) and it works great for backing up .mxf cards from our P2 shoots. I'm thinking about purchasing one privately. It takes about 4 hours to back up per tape though. hope this was somewhat helpful.



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Bob Cole
Re: best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Jan 25, 2009 at 1:16:00 pm

[Terren LIn] "It takes about 4 hours to back up per tape though. hope this was somewhat helpful."

Thanks. I didn't know the history - the current Quantum network drive has a 400/800 gb capacity and is compatible with gigabit Ethernet. I wonder whether it is the speed of the drive, or the speed of the network, which leads to such lengthy backup times.

The Ethernet solution is terrific, though it helps to have a "gigabit ethernet" network, and most of the older ones are at most 1/10th that speed.



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glenn jones
Re: best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Mar 11, 2009 at 2:07:41 pm

Hi - if you are in the UK, please let me know - i supply these and can offer good deals - GLENN http://www.craystone.co.uk 01204 557666



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glenn jones
Re: best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Mar 11, 2009 at 2:12:52 pm

no software required with an LTO3a. You drag and drop to it (via FTP - you just log in to its IP address) - the drive has FTP software built in and stores an index on each tape - this makes it multi-platform http://www.craystone.co.uk



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Bob Cole
Re: best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Mar 11, 2009 at 3:38:18 pm

LTO3a sounds great, and I wish I had the money to buy one. (The only hitch -- and this could be trivial -- is that writing to tape does take longer than we have become accustomed to with hard drives, so there may be some performance hit on your network with LTO3a.)

Although I would prefer the LTO3a, the cheaper solution I described above has been working well. btw - I'm using Retrospect Backup Professional software, which is more sophisticated than I am, but I'm slowly growing into it. I'm simply trying to back up projects, but the software tends to get into greater depth, as if I were doing regular system drive backups, with all the issues of deciding which files need to be updated, etc.

I got into the tape world because of the advent of tapeless media, but it is a great security blanket even for projects from tape. I will be able to store offsite a year's worth of video, graphics, project files, etc. in one or two shoeboxes, on media that is more reliable and cheaper than a bigger box of hard drives.

I'd be very curious to hear from someone who's using the LTO3a.

Bob C





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glenn jones
Re: best tape backup/video archiving strategy for mixed Mac/PC office
on Mar 11, 2009 at 3:43:21 pm

anyone had a look at http://www.productionbackup.com/ this is the new Producers Edition of TOLIS BRU. It looks like it give a level of functionality of the Quantum A series - but lets you use whatever tape drive you like (LTO4? 800gb and SUPER fast). Again - UK purchasers contact me for discounts http://www.craystone.co.uk



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