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Forums Storage & Archiving which LTO6 drive to buy?

  • which LTO6 drive to buy?

  • Rachael Busher

    January 25, 2018 at 5:15 am

    I’m just trying to scour the web a bit more for any other advice or educated opinions to help me figure out the subject title. ☺ I’m planning on buying an LTO6 drive no later than the Feb-March window. What I can’t determine is whether to simply buy based exclusively on price (around $1500 or so when I checked recently) or whether there are any critical specifications or features which would encourage me to get one over the other.

    About the only things for sure:
    – Less expensive is better unless there’s a good reason, i’m still working through college and not doing enough work to justify LTO7 or anything (but have dozens of terabytes of older data i’d rather migrate off, and the economics of LTO6 make more sense than LTO5 at the sweet spot)
    – Want to use SAS specifically as a controller, probably favoring external if prices similar
    – Ability to write at slower rates (than other LTO6 drives) is a plus but apparently it’s a standard they can all do equally well down to 55MB/sec or so?
    – Ideal if it works under Win, Mac, and Lin. Would like to be able to back up other systems than just my own. (borrow for friends to use etc, another reason for external)

    Are there other questions I should be asking? Features not on all drives? Specifications that differ in some meaningful way? Or are they all basically the same? :-/

  • Tim Jones

    January 25, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    The LTO-6 drives are all on equal footing so far as the technology is concerned, so the brand of the drive is less important that the company that you buy FROM. As for where it works, the drive will work anywhere there is a proper connection, so OS platform is not a question.

    The real question is one of software to drive the unit. Unlike a disk drive, you can’t simply plug a tape drive (any type of tape drive) into a computer and have it work. You need some sort of software to utilize it. Whether that’s the kernel drivers and tar or cpio on Solaris or Linux, LTFS on Windows, BRU or PreRoll Post on Mac OS, you need some type of tape-specific software to actually use the tape drive.

    So, when you decide who to buy the unit FROM, check what you get in the package from that seller. The drive by itself is of no use without the entire package – drive, cables, HBAs, media, and software.

    Tim

    Tim Jones
    CTO – TOLIS Group, Inc.
    https://www.tolisgroup.com
    BRU … because it’s the RESTORE that matters!

  • Ju Dor

    January 27, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Well actually, I have read that for LTO-6 drives, the cache on the HH (Half Height) drives is twice as small as the cache on FH (Full Height) Drives, which results in lower performance.
    So at the current price of LTO-6 drives (they are cheap because LTO-8 is only 1 generation backwards compatible…) , make sure you get a Full Height one.

    This is not a concern on LTO-7 drives by the way, where HH and FH drives all have the same cache anyway.

  • Neil Sadwelkar

    January 27, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    I have used HH drives to backup many petabytes of data to LTO-6 tapes. And, have worked on FH drives only occasionally. But I haven’t seen any difference in backup speed between either.
    One whole LTO-6 tape takes about 4 hrs to write and 2 to verify. It goes down to 6 write and 3 verify if the source drives are slow. Or if you are backing up a large number of small files.

    ———————————–
    Neil Sadwelkar
    neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
    twitter: fcpguru
    FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
    Mumbai India

  • Tim Jones

    January 28, 2018 at 12:08 am

    I can state without a doubt that there is no performance difference in the LTO-6 drives. You are correct that there was a speed difference for the FH LTO-4 and LTO-5 types, but it was due to a tape spooling difference rather than a cache size difference.

    If your backup app can keep the drive spinning, you’ll not see a difference with 6 FH vs HH. Plus, I don’t know of a source for a non-used FH drive any longer.

    Tim

    Tim Jones
    CTO – TOLIS Group, Inc.
    https://www.tolisgroup.com
    BRU … because it’s the RESTORE that matters!

  • Tim Gerhard

    February 8, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    LTO6 FH vs HH there is no difference. The FHs were just made for certain tape libraries because they only fit FH drives in them etc.

    All external /internal drives have gone HH for the SAS variant.

    We sell new and refurbished LTO drives at Magnext, so give us a call when you’re looking to buy.

    Tim Gerhard
    Magnext
    614-433-0011 x114
    [email protected]

  • Rachael Busher

    February 13, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Well i’m all ears, you can recommend specific other sellers especially if prices for packages are competitive, curious what the package difference is though – I prefer to pick my own SAS card (because i’m using it for other things), I assumed at least LTFS was free for DL because that’s implied everywhere, cables are just… cables… so I order one with the drive, and tapes i’ll be ordering by the boxload soon enough.

    Publically working through this – since i’m a newbie hopefully someone can give me a headcheck if I have a misunderstanding anywhere. Keep in mind i’m both still in college and not working on enough volume that hundreds of dollars is irrelevant to me for a minor enough inconvenience, I just have to migrate a few dozen TB of data to start, not petabytes.

    If I can mention specific places I just have somewhere called BackupWorks bookmarked for now and I see half height internal dedicated LTO6 drives for like $1650 by Quantum for the TC-L62AN-BR-C and $1740 by IBM TS2260 which says it has dual SAS ports plus Ethernet. (does this mean it can be read/written through Ethernet instead of SAS else what would it be for, or connected to two separate computers with their own SAS cards? Or does the SAS just let you chain to something else after? I mean I sort of understand how SAS works, I just dont know how this specific DRIVE works/what is implied by them mentioning dual “SAS ports” because I don’t see why it should need it.) HP is like $500 more and I see no critical difference in features. Other models for LTO6 are notably more expensive but I see no real feature differences.

    I’m pretty set on LTO6 for now – throwing the numbers into a spreadsheet it’s not worth another $500-700 for an LTO7 drive vs the ROI because by the time media might be cheaper for it, i’d have to upgrade my NAS drives to feed it. I’d rather jump two gens to LTO8 (and use LTO7 media formatted m8) when it’s time upgrading NAS and tape drive all at once, probably once LTO9 is out and prices drop in a few years. $500-700 can get me a GPU or SSD upgrade or second dSLR for two camera shoots, it’s not throwaway money.

    Anyway i’m shopping for price alone and these are the two least expensive right now and it beats amazon and I dont trust saving $100 on ebay from an unknown supplier. I’m not willing to trust barely less expensive on something refurbished or an unknown supplier but willing to look at other suppliers – just didn’t see many others in my searching. Ebay prices on the IBM are notably more for some reason, is it in any way a better drive and worth the $90 extra from BUW? I assume they will all write from single drives “as low as 55MB/sec” without shoeshining, which is lower than any drive I want to back up from. Two of the drives list a 512MB cache, so that’s about 9 seconds of buffering of small files.

    Externals of either are about $300 more and i’m not willing to pay that right much more, I originally assume this just fit in a half height 5.25 bay and used some standardized power connection but looking at dimensions on BUW i’m not sure – a different site lists the same Quantum drive with what I assume are normal 5.25 ATX case dimensions though.

    One quirk I see is Macintosh not listed as a supported platform on either drive from BUW which I assumed should just be about a compatible SAS controller and some Mac version of LTFS. I would prefer having that ideally, but the only listing for sure is in an HP drive some $500 more and that’s more than i’m willing to pay for Mac compatibility right now because I don’t see any other reasons to buy the more expensive drive. (because if it’s plugged into a Mac or multiOS I can just directly write a tape from the system drive instead of imaging over the network) At a different website the same Quantum drive at least implies Mac compatibility.

    I don’t have to buy overnight but my NAS is filling up at a rate that by the end of March I either add another drive or migrate old-old data off to some tapes so that’s my expected buying window.

    I primarily use Windows and my NAS is simple Windows so i’m just planning on using LTFS for now. (in the future I plan to get more into Linux and Mac OSX and hope to use the same drive there, probably all from the same hardware computer – the handful of times I may move the drive physically to another machine or server will be counted on one hand so I don’t think i’ll spring for an external)

  • Ju Dor

    February 18, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Bear in mind if you get LTO6, that you will probably want to migrate at a later date to something better (and faster…)

    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.

    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.
    My 2c

  • Jerzy Zbyslaw

    February 21, 2018 at 6:27 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.

  • Tim Gerhard

    March 8, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    Standalone internal drives aren’t really made in FC, except for IBM enterprise users, which it’s hard just to buy anything from IBM unless you’re throwing down a 10 million dollar order.

    The mainstream LTO standalone drives are all SAS now. FC can be found on tape loader/library drives, but they have to be powered through a loader/library tray unless you do a funky custom build.

    Tim Gerhard
    Magnext
    614-433-0011 x114
    [email protected]

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