With so many different formats for tape drives, it can be daunting for business owners considering a data backup solution for their small business. When you search online for tape drives, you will see esoteric names like AIT, Mammoth, VXA, Data8, 8mm, DDS, DAT, 4mm, SLR, QIC, Ditto, SAIT, Travan, Magstar, DLT, SDLT, ADR, TX-2, and the list goes on! No wonder why it is so confusing for business owners considering data storage backup solutions.
One popular format adopted by many companies, is the LTO, which stands for Linear Tape-Open. LTO technology utilizes a magnetic tape cartridge that is four inch square cartridge with a thickness of half an inch. There are three corporations that started the LTO Consortium: HP, IBM, and Certance (now Quantum).
In the earlier days of tape storage during the mid 1980s, the DLT format was the de-facto half inch cartridge used in the industry. Then LTO format was released as a replacement to this DLT format. The similarity of size and shape of the new LTO half-inch cartridges made it easy for robotic tape libraries to migrate from DLT to LTO libraries.
LTO Ultrium is frequently used as the name for this open format technology. Each generation increases its native storage capacity. LTO-1 has 100GB, LTO-2 has 200GB, LTO-3 jumps up to 400GB, LTO-4 has 800GB, and LTO-5 has 1500GB.
New features are being added with each generation. The new LTO-4 and LTO-5 have encryption capabilities. So tape cartridges have the data within safely locked from intrusion by using Advanced Encryption Standard, known as AES Encryption Method 256 bit. Beginning with LTO-5, the fifth generation, there is now partitioning. By dividing up the LTFS (Linear Tape File System) into different partitions, this allows faster access times and also improved data management.
Future generations of LTO will keep increasing the storage capacities. One day, just a single cartridge will hold multiple TERABYTES of data.