Q

Which backup drive should we buy: LTO, DDS or DLT?

Doug Owens offers buying advice on tape drives.

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?
Without knowing how much data you need to back up, it would difficult to recommend a solution for you. But let's talk about what we do know about the formats you're looking at. Unfortunately, DDS hasn't really done much in terms of growth since the DDS-4 series, and I haven't heard if there will be anything else from that direction, so I would likely steer clear of that avenue. DLT has the potential (with compression) of storing up to 80 GB of data on a single tape, SDLT (Super-DLT) now has the compressed capacity of up to 600GB, and LTO-3 comes in at an impressive compressed capacity of 800 GB. Also, DLT/SDLT/LTO have the speed that is required to get the large amounts of data backed up in a timely fashion. If you aren't looking at libraries, then I wouldn't consider going with a solution that requires more than one tape to store the data I need to back up. Backups tend not to complete when a second tape is required to complete the task, and nobody is available to swap media. As far as recommending one of the formats you mentioned above, I would say that either of the DLT/SDLT/LTO would be a good direction to look in, and then fine-tune based upon your speed/capacity needs.

Read Pierre Dorion's answer to this question.

This was first published in February 2005

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