Does anyone use (LTO-)tapes for archiving/backup?




does anyone have LTO-drives at home and do use them for backups?

It seems that the tape cost is relatively cheap (LTO3 and beyond) but the drives cost a fortune. But a used LTO3-drive would actually be in the realms of possibility for home use (pricewise).

Does anyone have experiences about the reliability of tapes and the practicality?

Right now I do have 10 years worth of burned DVDs/BD-Rs (migrated all CD’s to DVD’s about 5-6 years ago). So I’d say I will quite soon be facing data loss due to dvds aging. In the shelves are discs that have been played only once in about 8 years, so I really don’t need the data to be online (so no RAIDing HDDs) all the time so the tape seek/random access times wouldn’t be a problem.

Migrating to BD-R would be easy because I already have the equipment. But I have beginning to have my doubts about the format adoption. Back in the days ALL used to have CD/DVD-writers or at least wanted one. Now… almost no-one has a bluray-drive and don’t even want one.

How do you guys archive/backup data?


I USED backup tape drives for a while but it always seemed when something happened the tape would not work due to setting up a new machine or something but most times they did work, just VERY slow to access data and small capacity.
I think most users have backup external hard drives and things these days but if that system is large capacity and robust enough it might be just fine. I’ll have to look up LTO and see what they are for sure but for most home users the device has to be reasonably priced and so does the tapes to make it worthwhile, otherwise some other less expensive solution is going to win.


Looked them up, they are like the ones I used to use and most are SCSI drives. Not many users still have or know how to configure a SCSI setup plus like I said unless you get the bigger systems I don’t think the cost and hassle are worth it, and the really big useful ones are still pretty spendy used.
I still have tapes around from the various ones I used and a SCSI card but doubt I would bother these days between cost of drive and tapes.
When I used mine the really BIG hard drives weren’t out yet and SCSI stuff was somewhat readily available if you were up for the learning curve and expense. Mu first one held like 250 meg compressed and it took two tapes to hold my whole system, then they kept getting bigger from there.
I’d still say a big external drive or something else would be a better solution but if you have one with everything needed cheap and it’s big enough might be OK.


I’ve used both DAT (36GB native) and DLT (160GB native) at work with a server and had a few occasions where I had to restore files.

Based on my experience with these, the reliability of the tapes seem pretty good. We had one set of tapes that were typically overwritten once a week and another set that were overwritten every 5 weeks. When the backup ran, it also did a verification process. If this was successful, it would eject the tape, otherwise it threw an error on the screen. While there were occasional verification errors (e.g. files modified between the backup and verification stages), I very rarely saw any CRC read errors.

One of the main reasons tape is considered more reliable than other media is down to what happens when damage occurs. If a section of the tape becomes unreadable, there is a good chance that the rest of the tape is fine. In theory the same is true if a section of tape is physically damaged. With a hard disk, a head/motor failure or PCB failure in usually results in it totally failing, often without advanced warning. For optical media, a separation of the layers (e.g. with DVD), the reflective layer corroding and/or degradation of the recording layer can result in a total failure of the disc. So in theory, tape is less prone to instant or quick failure.

With how much storage media has come down in price in recent years, I don’t think it’s worth investing in tape storage unless you have 10’s of terabytes of data to store. Basically I would suggest getting a hard disk dock, a set of bare 2TB 3.5" hard disks (with high user review counts and low feedback about failures) and a hard disk storage case. Then store your data on at least two separate hard disks. Besides the cost of the tape drive, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of a SCSI card (if a SCSI drive) and the recording software, which both together could cost as much as the actual tape drive.

Personally I’ve stopped using optical media as my main backup as I’ve had plenty of discs fail over time, yet haven’t had a 3.5" hard disk fail since 2005 (if I recall right) despite having 7 to 10 in use around the house over that period. A server at work has 4 original 80GB 7200RPM hard disks that have been running around the clock since 2004.

Another suggestion would be to look at M-Disc, which uses a durable solid recording layer instead of an organic dye that degrades. These discs to cost more and do require a special optical drive to burn them, so may be quite expensive if you have a lot of data to backup. However, in theory they do have the advantage of not needing to periodically verify them.



does anyone have LTO-drives at home and do use them for backups?[/quote] I don’t own one personally, but i’m working with these devices almost every workday.

It seems that the tape cost is relatively cheap (LTO3 and beyond) but the drives cost a fortune. But a used LTO3-drive would actually be in the realms of possibility for home use (pricewise).

I would be very cautious of used drives. While most of them still may function for quite a while, they are products that really can get worn out. You will need good new tapes, a cleaning tape and a basic understanding of the inner workings.

Fortunately the HP devices have a lot of technical support. The free software HP Library and Tape Tools comes with a complete server and client system, can analyse a lot of technical stuff and even update the firmware of your drive.

As with all mechanical things, good maintenance will really extend the life span of your device.

Does anyone have experiences about the reliability of tapes and the practicality?
Tapes are pretty reliable, but you have to test them from time to time to make sure everything can still be read.

How do you guys archive/backup data?
I use a NAS which makes a backup of all the important stuff on a nightly basis. Occasionally i attach a usb drive to it for an extra backup.

It’s also very important to limit the data you deem important. For example: Movies aren’t that important. The first pictures of your kids are.

It can be cheaper to store your data elsewhere. Companies like Backblaze might be cheaper and more reliable in the long run.


I did - but no more.

These days truecrYpt and external hdd’s are my friend.
Imp. stuff goes onto HD-DVD-R and DVD-RA. :smiley:


Did manage to score LTO3-drive cheaply (+ FC controller card and some tapes).

Unfortunately I’m in middle of The Great Logistic Operation (moving…), so let’s see how things pan out.


I bought a house(my first) and moved two years ago:bigsmile: It was pretty eye opening to see how much crap I’d collected and stuffed into my small two bedroom ranch style house I rented for 22 years. Wanted to buy it and stay put but owner was in la la land on price so found a much bigger nicer house for less money per month then my rent was:cool:
Anyways, good luck with the move and post back when your done on how the drive is working for you.
I still have some unpacked boxes around here stashed in the spare room:rolleyes: Been trying to get to it but not much motivation as the bedrooms and living areas are in good shape now but finally started last week.