Considerations in choosing a backup tape drive
By Steve Richardson, VP of Marketing, Overland Data
The benefits of tape automation are plentiful: massive increases in available capacity, better data protection with automated backup procedures to eliminate operator errors, and increased drive reliability through robotic media handling.
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While some of the newest tape drives have been specifically designed to ease implementation into automated environments, virtually all tape formats may be found in automated products. A customer should keep in mind that the duty cycle capabilities of tape drives differ significantly.
Using a tape drive in an automated environment with too low of a duty cycle capability in an application will result in drive failures due to the drive literally "burning out." The technical specifications of a tape drive indicate how high of a duty cycle in which it will best operate.
The specifications that will assist you in matching the best drive for your application include:
- MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures, hours), recording head life (hours)
- MSBF (Mean Swaps Between Failures, cycles)
- Media durability (number of passes)
The MTBF for tape drives for entry to mid-range automation applications is usually rated at a 20% duty cycle and ranges between 200,000 and 300,000 hours. Drives that are in this category include: Travan NS and DDS.
Drives capable of high-duty cycle applications are usually rated at 100% duty cycle and around 250,000 hours or more of MTBF. Drives capable of medium to high-duty cycle applications include: DLT, SDLT, AIT, Mammoth, LTO Ultrium, 9840 and MagStar.
About the author: Steve Richardson is the vice president of marketing at Overland Data
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