If tape is dead, what are Linear Tape Open Systems?

Posted on: April 27, 2017 by Nettel Media Inc.

Category: General

If tape is dead, what are Linear Tape Open Systems?

The use of tapes in the video industry has pretty much become a thing of the past with the adoption of memory cards and hard drives. However, since the late 90’s tapes have been evolving for storage purposes into a different technology known as LTO or Linear Tape Open. LTO is a magnetic tape data storage technology that can hold up to 6.0 Terabytes of data in a cartridge and can last between 15 to 30 years.


For those who remember working with tapes, they will appreciate the benefits of storing their data with the new LTO hard drive systems against a regular hard drive. For the film and video industry, LTO systems allow the user to store everything from the raw footage to the final project in one place without having to worry about having enough space for the footage, or for the project itself. It is similar to a hard drive, yet much more reliable for storage purposes.


Linear Tape Open is constantly being improved so it can adapt and protect data more efficiently. In 2000, it was introduced to the storage industry with the standard form-factor known as Ultrium and has since revolutionized with each version that is released. There have been 6 versions of LTO systems out on the market for everyone to buy and recently, in 2015, the latest version, LTO-7, was released. It has 15TB of compressed data storage at a data rate of up to 400 MB/s, which is twice as much as its previous version, LTO-6. Its creator, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, is constantly updating their LTO system so each version has better security and more storage for data. LTO also allows the user to read and/or write from two generations prior to the current one being used. This secures the user’s investment in the system for the long run.


Not only does LTO allow tape to be stacked sequentially, it also better protects the data while its being read and transferred so there is no missing information during the transfer. This is thanks, among other things, to the protective strips at the top and bottom of the tape holder and to the servo bands on the head that scans the data. There are two sensors on the head when the tape is being written. One writes the data on to the tape and the other checks for errors. If any errors are found, the first sensor re-writes the information lower on the strip of tape.


LTO Systems have a new way of making sure the data is not lost or overwritten using a program called WORM, which means Write-Once, Read Many, so no information can be overwritten. Along with the WORM feature, LTO has advanced encryption, which strengthens the privacy and security of the data.


With 4K video becoming the norm soon and most industries utilizing video content, the need for reliable storage of video footage is becoming bigger. Different companies price LTO storage systems differently, but an LTO-7 Tape Media is in the neighbourhood range of $165.00 CDN for example on Amazon, while a Tape Drive ranges from $4,000 to $8,000 CDN. For any company wanting a more reliable and secure option to store their video content or any other data, an LTO System might be an investment worth looking into.

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