LTO Generation Tape Comparison

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generations of LTO tape

Linear Tape-Open is a recording medium to store data. It has been preferred by large-scale industries. It has been in this industry since it fulfils the major requirement by these industries, i.e., data capacity. LTO is known for its data capacity. Other than data capacity there are various reasons why a company would LTO.

LTO is said to be open since it is an open format. Therefore, there is a published specification that defines the format of the file where data will be stored. Hence, it can be used at the convenience of the user.
Although Hewlett Packard, International Business Management, and Quantum developed it instead of Quantum, it is controlled by LTO Consortium. LTO Consortium now gives directs the machine manufacturers. LTO Consortium manages the issue of licenses and as well as certificates.

There are some strong reasons why LTO has dominated the market for over six decades now and with this long-run market, companies consider using LTO tapes as a standard.

Although, initially LTO tapes were introduced to be used as archival storage. Archival storage has a great benefit compared to using the data retrieving method. Since it is better to be prepared for the worst, using LTO tapes and archiving data will reduce the stress in case of an unfortunate event. While retrieving there is less chance that the data that will be retrieved may not be completely restored whereas, in the case of archives, the data will be stored in original format.

The compression feature in this device is what makes the device capable to store large amounts of data in a small space.

The second most common reason why LTO is mostly preferred is because of it is rate. It is comparatively cheaper compared to disk drives for storing data. It is a great factor since there are huge amounts of data that are created every day and need to be store. If the rates were high, then it would have been expensive and would have incurred high expenses for the company.

Compared to disk drives, LTO tapes also incur less cost. This is because the hard disk consumes energy even when not in use. After all, it still rotates even when not in use. This continuous rotates also generates heat due to which HVAC equipment will be required to cool off the hard disk whereas LTO tapes remain quiet when not in use and thus consumes less energy and produce less heat.

Technology is improving very fast and due to this, a very common and crucial problem that arises is malware and ransomware or rather theft of information. To prevent theft LTO is updating security feature with almost its every generation. One of the features it came up with recently is that it disconnects from the server or internet thus it is protected from the online cyber attackers and also if required the tape can be physically removing and thereby creating an “air gap” to protect data from leaking.

LTO has evolved through generation, starting LTO-DC, then it was launched with the capability to reduce the data into fewer bits as an encryption process. Then /LTO 3 was introduced with Write Once Read Many features, then LTO 4 provides an authorization key and LTO 5 was introduced with two partitions.


List of LTO tapes

LTO 5: It was released in 2010 by LTO Consortium. It provides data transfer rates of up to 280 Mbps.

LTO 6: It has transfer rates of 400 Mbps. It has a three-tiered storage solution that includes tape cartridges, libraries, and drives to deal with increasing amounts of data. It consumes less energy compared to HDD despite that LTO 6 is similar to HDD and thus reducing media costs. It helps in ensuring business resilience. It helps in searching and retrieving data files with directory tree, drag and drop. IBM Spectrum Archive support also helps the cartridge to reduce or eliminate software licensing costs.

LTO 7: It has double capacity of storage capacity compared to previous generations. This will help n reducing cartridges and thus reducing costs related to storing and maintaining tape cartridges. It can facilitate remote, offline data. It protects from natural or man-made threats or onsite data storage. It has greater efficiency. It reduces software licensing costs and dependencies.

LTO 8: It can store double the amount capacity of LTO 7. It has a Type M media which helps LTO 8 to have the rate of $/Tb 50% less than LTO 7. It has higher density, low noises, and media discrepancies, also doesn’t heat up the LTO 8, and maintains cooler temperatures. It has also improved regarding signal sensitivity, increasing to four times the improvement. It uses BaFe.

LTO 9: It has the same feature as previous-generation LTO along with the capability to be capable with LTO 8 and also will be capable till LTO 10. It has more areal density than a disk of the same capacity. It is also easily recoverable.

LTO tapes comparisons


As with the latest generation of LTO, the LTO becomes more cost effects since they provide more capacity. Also, the costs of individual LTO tapes do fall every year. Also if compared to disks, LTO tapes provide more storage with the same amount of money.


Following the compressed rate of speed.
LTO 5: 140 MB/s
LTO 6: 280 MB/s
LTO 7: 400 MB/s
LTO 8: 750 MB/s
LTO 9: 1000 MB/s


Following capacity refers to compressed storage.
LTO 5: 3.0 TB
LTO 6: 6.25 TB
LTO 7: 15 TB
LTO 8: 30 TB
LTO 9: 45 TB


As the capacity increases, the LTO tapes will be able to store more data thus less LTO tapes will be required and less space will be required to store the LTO tapes. This way the company will create less e-waste and also be able to contribute towards the e-waste. It has become a very crucial part of a business to not neglect the impact of business on the environment. Today, governments are becoming very strict in these matters and imposing fines if e-waste is not properly managed by companies. Even the public has become too conscious regarding these matters. Not only the company will need to acquire a space to store a large number of devices but also the space or the area will also be required to be maintained. If the space is acquired, then significant maintenance will be required as well. Another layer of security would also be required to protect the area. Thus it can be said, LTO reduces the footprint of companies.

Drive compatibility

Following is a list of what each respective LTO generation is compatible with.
LTO 5: Read- LTO 7, Read/Write- LTO 6 and LTO 5
LTO 6: Read/Write- LTO 7 and LTO 6
LTO 7: Read/Write- LTO 8 and LTO 7
LTO 8: Read/Write 8
LTO 9: Read/Write- LTO 10, LTO 9, LTO 8


LTO 5: 30 years
LTO 6: 30 years
LTO 7: 30 years
LTO 8: 30 years
LTO 9: 30 years


LTO 5: It’s commonly used for backing up data, archiving data, or storing data. It is also favorable for high-capacity transfers. It includes WORM technology which will prove to be a cost-effective way to meet the needs of the company. It is the first Ultrium version of LTO. It is also the first version with a partition feature. It has a maximum of two partitions. Partition feature helped the upcoming generations to enable the integration of LTFS.

LTO 6: It focuses on using it for offline storage and archiving large amounts of data. It helps IT, professionals, with energy-efficient, reliable media. It also has WORM functionality. It is also capable of making advanced encryption capabilities. LTFS in this generation of LTO will enable it to be as similar to HDDs.

LTO 7: It helps in accessing files directly from tape by users or applications. It comes with rewritable and WORM cartridge models with customers and also in RFID embedded cartridge labels.

LTO 8: It can be used to store data offline thus protecting the data from ransomware and malware. It also provides 20% better performance than LTO 7. It can also be used to allow the users to read/write to LTO 7 since they are compatible.

LTO 9: it can also be used if the user prefers scalable equipment. It is also more secure offline storage.


From the above-mentioned comparisons it is cleared that with every next generation of LTO, capacity is increasing along with security. Therefore, if a driver can remain functional for nearly three decades then it will reduce costs for the company by skipping the need or requirement to purchase a new storage medium. Also with the help of LTO, the company would just need to replace the tape media in case the storage media reaches its maximum limit. LTO’s every feature and benefit adds up years of reliability of safe and secure service.