LTFS (Linear Tape File System)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Why a tape backup system is still a good storage option
Contributor(s): Ed Hannan

LTFS (Linear Tape File System) is a file system specification that allows Linear Tape-Open (LTO) storage technology to be indexed.

LTFS partitions LTO-5 or LTO-6 tapes into two segments called partitions. Partition 0 holds directory structures and pointers that let the tape drive quickly seek specific data from the tape; the data itself is stored in Partition 1. Applying a file system to a tape allows users to organize and search the contents of tape as they would on hard disk, improving access time for data stored on tape. LTFS makes it possible to drag and drop files to tape in the same way that files might be dragged and dropped to disk.

IBM developed the LTFS format in 2010 to address tape archive requirements. The LTO Consortium of Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Seagate (now Quantum Corp.) formally adopted the LTFS Format specification, which defines how data and metadata on tape are stored in a hierarchical directory structure. Users can download software that enables the operating system to recognize LTFS.


This was last updated in June 2013

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