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Choosing a tape drive: LTO, DDS or DLT?

Pierre Dorion 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?
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.

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