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Recommended tape drive?


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I am looking for a recommendation for a decently modern, external, tape drive. The interface is secondary. I can easily buy a PCI SCSI card if it requires LVD 160.

 

However, it seems that the least expensive tape drive out there with a nontrivial capacity, which means over 150 gigs native (300 gigs compressed) is the DLT V4, which is about $1100, or a Dell PowerVault LTO 2L (200 gigs native.)

 

Anyone have any suggestions for something decently reliable? Anything below 100 gigs native doesn't cut it these days.

 

As for the reason for using tape versus just buying external hard disks is three-fold. First, hard disks usually have a one year warranty, and are not intended for long term use/archival of data. Second, hard disks are very delicate. Drop a tape, and you just brush it off, look for any obvious damage and nobody will be the wiser. Drop a hard disk, and you just lost the entire contents. Last, malware can easily overwrite critical sectors of a hard disk, while tape can be set read-only, guarenteeing the contents on it are physically unable to be tampered with.

 

Of course, the tape drive has to be compatible with Retrospect.

 

Thanks in advance for help.

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Check out the Exabyte drives, especially with autoloaders.

We use the VXA-2 1x10 1u PacketLoader (SCSI). X23 tapes are rated at 320 GB (compressed), we get about 225 GB with Retrospect, autoloader holds 10 tapes. The current version of that drive is the VXA-320, which has double the capacity of VXA-2. There are also LTO, etc.

http://www.exabyte.com/

 

Russ

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In your experience, how common are tapes going bad with your VXA autoloaders? I've been out of the server rooms a bit, and still remember how some tape technologies (mainly dual reel tapes) had about a bad tape out of 20, while DLT and SDLT tapes would have one bad tape out of 500 to 1000 that was received. Thus, I'm partial to the single reel tapes like DLT and LTO.

 

Thanks for the info. I've been looking around, and what I'm doing, the Dell PowerVault LTO-2 seems to be the best price/performance for me. Its about $1200, including a SCSI controller card, and does 200 GB native. The VXA 320 offers 160 GB native for pretty much the same exact price (both tape drives priced from Dell, the LTO-2 external is $1084, the VXA 320 is $1079.)

 

Both seem to be high quality, so if I had to decide on which drive to go with, and there are no real differences, I'd probably go with the LTO-2 because it gives 40 gigs more native for $5 dollars more.

 

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_Tape-Open

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VXA

 

PS: When I'm mentioning LTO, I mean Ultrium format, the single reel cartridges.

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I have never had an X23 tape fail. I did have a batch of marginal X23 tapes that, coupled with an issue in the VXA-2 firmware update last summer (corrected with the one in January 2007; I think that some of the error recovery routines had issues), caused errors.

 

However, our VXA-2 use may be different from most. We never re-use a tape, and, when the backup set fills up the bunch of tapes in that set, store the tapes in that backup set away for posterity. Except during the problematic time with the bad firmware update in combination with the batch of marginal tapes, we haven't had any problems. And we do have to go back and retrieve files occasionally, so, under good storage conditions, the shelf life appears good, too.

 

The problem that some people have with Exabyte is that the drives/autoloader are sometimes DOA. Exabyte is good about swapping them out, though. Once they work, they work pretty well. We've never had a problem with ours.

 

Russ

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