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Re: which LTO6 drive to buy?

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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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