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Choosing a tape drive: LTO, DDS or DLT?

My company is planning to purchase a tape drive for backup. However, there seem to be three different standards: LTO, DDS and DLT. I understand that DDS is one of the older generations, and that LTO more or less has better storage and higher performance. Which would you recommend?

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DDS certainly cannot compare with LTO and DLT, as it is a much lower performance and capacity technology (2.4 MBps and 20 GB native capacity for DDS-4). As far as comparing LTO and DLT, the latest versions of both technologies offer respectively 400 GB of capacity and 80 MBps (native) for LTO-3 and 300 GB of capacity and 32 MBps (native) for SDLT 600. If high capacity and high performance are your first priorities, LTO-3 is probably your best choice at this time. However, an LTO-3 tape drive will cost you approximately 20% more than a SDLT 600. Note that Sony also offers a high capacity drive called S-AIT that can store 500 GB of data and offers with a 30 MBps (native) throughput at a price slightly higher than LTO-3.

As always, performance, capacity and price are not all. You must ensure that the tape technology of choice is fully supported and compatible with your existing infrastructure from both a hardware and software perspective.

Read Doug Owens' answer to this question.

This was first published in February 2005

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