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Using Linear Tape File System for archiving

Learn about using Linear Tape File System for archiving in this Expert Response from Brien Posey.

Are there any products in the market utilizing LTFS for archiving? And is it possible to categorize data stored on tape to make it searchable without restoring the data to a server if it is not LTFS-compatible?

LTFS is an acronym for Linear Tape File System. LTFS tapes use a file system that's similar to what is normally used in disk-based storage. LTFS makes it possible to drag and drop files to tape in the same way that files might be dragged and dropped to disk.

This concept allows LTFS-compliant tape drives to be used as an archive solution. Tandberg Data, for example, offers software that allows their LTO-5 tape drives to be seen as a disk resource. Since many of the data archiving products on the market are designed to write archive data to disk, it becomes easy to redirect the output of such products to a tape drive instead, since the tape drive emulates a disk.

The main advantage to using Linear Tape File System for archiving is that tape drives provide a near infinite capacity, since tapes can be replaced as they are filled. Tapes offer high capacity and a low cost per gigabyte, so they tend to be a good alternative to disk-based storage.

As far as indexing on non-LTO tapes goes, there is a company called Index Engines that offers a technology called direct indexing. Direct indexing can make the discovery process far less time-consuming. The process works by scanning the tapes and looking for things like files, email messages, databases, and the like. The process indexes the tape's contents and works independently of your backup software. Cataloging a tape does not require the data to be restored. The tape is simply scanned.

The Index Engines software includes a search engine that makes it possible to perform discovery against archive tapes. The discovery process is even able to look inside of certain types of unstructured files (such as Exchange Server databases).

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