It is a type of data storing system. In this, magnetic tape is used as a recording medium to store data. It is a better option to keep the data safe compared to the process of data recovery. Unlike data recovery, data is retrieved from the system in which it was originally which means there can be chances of data missing but in the case of using a tape, the original data is copied as it is and there are fewer chances of data missing. It involves a tape library, a tape drive.
Linear Tape-Open uses magnetic tape to store data. It is referred to as open as an open- format. An open format refers that a published specification that defines the format of the file where data will be stored. This is usually maintained by a standards organization and if required by the user they can implement it. Therefore, LTO has free format software that can be used by the user as per their purpose. It has been in the industry for more than six decades now.
It was first developed by Hewlett Packard, International Business Management, and Quantum which now is under the control of the LTO Consortium.
Now, the LTO consortium gives directions to the machine manufacturers. They now manage the issue of licenses and certificates as well.
LTO has grown with generations of changes. LTO started with the feature to reduce the size of the data by re-ending the data to fewer bits. Then it introduced write once read many (WORM), it stood beneficial for legal record keeping. Then tapes were first introduced with two partitions and then later with four partitions and then LTFS. Now, it has introduced the airgap feature and cloud benefits.
Advantages of LTO Tape
Following are some reasons why using LTO will be beneficial to the company:
- Since LTO has been in the industry for over six decades now, it has been a standard for many companies. For years, whether it is still in demand or the end of the tape has finally come. Disk storage is the greatest competitor. LTO tapes are majorly preferred by large-scale industries and are widely used by companies for storing backup or archiving data.
- LTO cartridges have high capacity storage which is very high compared to its competitor’s device. Due to its capacity, it can store huge amounts of data. It is possible due to its compression feature.
- It is a media built with simple parts whereas in other drives it is built with complex parts which will then require electricity and more energy to run the device. As a result, when LTO will run less and therefore there will have less wear and tear and will be reliable to use for long years. It is also reliable as it provides more protection and security compared to other mediums of storing data. Tapes also have less error rates compared to disk drives.
- LTO costs less per gigabyte compared to disk. It saves in lot more other ways as well. As already mentioned before, tapes do not require electricity when not in use compared to other disks thus, it saves energy. When disks are used as a medium, they generate heat due to continuous rotating disks and generate heat. To lower the temperature around the disk, HVAC equipment will be required which will itself use electricity and will add to the cost of acquiring the disk. Apart from these, when the capacity of tape will expire, the user will be required to buy another drive whereas when the capacity of the disk will expire, the user will be required to buy a separate disk. Tapes already come with high capacity storage which means you would require less tape drive than disk storage. Due to this advantage, companies can store multiple copies of their data.
- If LTO tape is used with Linear Tape File System, then it accesses files similar to the way disk accesses files. This may not be an advantage but is the reason why one can choose LTO since it provides the feature same as a disk which will help the tape to access files at the same rate as disk storage.
- LTO tapes are capable to be moved physically which the data stored can be moved to a different place physically without being connected to a server or a connection. It is possible because this drive can be removed from its location after it has done its required function by the user. Due to this, after the completion of write to read function, the tape gets disconnected from the server and sits quietly even when not in use whereas the disk continues to rotate even after performing its required function. This feature will help companies to transfer data without servers.
- Due to the feature of LTO being portable, the disk can be disconnected from the server, and therefore, it will remain protected when not in use. When the device will be in use, the user will be able to notice if there is any leakage of data. As tape will remain disconnected from the server, the cyber attackers will not be able to get hold of the device as and when they want. As data can be transferred without servers or the internet the data will be protected from malware or cyber attackers. Tapes are only accessible to authorized users as they are encrypted before storing which will prevent them from being accessed and the non-user won’t be able to access the data.
- Apart from these, tapes greatly benefit companies to backup data. If the company backup data then in case of an emergency, the company will not have to wait for the data recovery company to recover data. As a result, data will be stored in its original format and while restoring data there will be fewer chances of discrepancies. Also, tapes are known to the archive when not in use. This way, companies will be able to save space and energy in terms of storing data.
Since tapes provide high capacity, in a way fewer drives are being made or less medium will be used to store data compared to disk which will contribute to the environment as well.
It is especially beneficial for large data which needs to be stored for a long-term basis.
Since LTO comes with a feature called (WORM), this helps store data that are just required to be read and are not rewriteable. Neither can they be erased or overwritten. It is used on those type of data which does not require alterations or to prevent the data from being accidentally deleted by the user. There is also a unique WORM ID which will further prevent the data from even being accessible to an unauthorized person.
LTO also has separate compartments which can be used with different libraries for different purposes.
Now with the latest technology, the tape also supports cloud storage and prevents it from being hacked. Now the latest tape allows creating an “airgap”.
Disadvantages of LTO Tape
Following are some disadvantages of LTO tape:
- Though LTO is known for its high data capacity but the update in tapes to increase the capacity of tapes takes time to be introduced. Also, repetitive updating of tape can confuse the disk and also the user.
- As the tapes are magnetic, the tape requires high maintenance. Due to the magnetic stripe, the tape attracts particles in the air and may corrupt the files in the tape. Magnetic tapes are also prone to lights which is why while storing and the tapes, the type of lighting needs to be checked. Storing tape requires an environment suitable for tape which also means that it needs to be handled carefully.
- Since, tapes require authorization to be accessed, the company needs to hire or put a charge on its employee to handle the tape. Which means that the person needs to be trustworthy. The person also needs to know how to read or write data on the tape which might add to the cost to maintain the tape. This task might be separate and the worker who is responsible to operate the tape for the company will also be required to label, log, and transport data. This person is also made responsible for transferring the tape then additional cost will be required as well.
- As it is a tangible product, if not handled properly it is prone to damage which is why it is required to be accommodated properly and needs to be handled with care.
- Tapes take a longer time to restore compared to disks.
Despite its advantages and disadvantages, the company first looks for its purpose and whether the device will be able to fulfill the requirement of the company. The company should also look after its budget before making a purchase decision. The company must first look at whether the company is capable of using the LTO tape and whether the company has a suitable environment and check as many aspects as possible to prevent any loss in the future.