LTO FAQ

LTO Tape 22 FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

LTO Ultrium Tape
We have been asked a number of times, what appears to be simple questions, so we thought we would answer the top 22 LTO FAQ questions and answers.  If you cannot find the answer to a question please call us on 01256 782030 or email

  1. What are LTO tape capacities and performance figures?
    1. LTO-7 capacity – 6.0TB native – 15TB compressed / 300MB/s (1.08TB/hr) native – 750MB/s (2.7TB/hr) compressed
    2. LTO-6 capacity – 2.5TB native – 6.25TB compressed / 160MB/s (576GB/hr) native – 400MB/s (1.44TB/hr) compressed
    3. LTO-5 capacity – 1.5TB native – 3.0TB compressed / 140MB/s (504GB/hr) native – 280MB/s (1.08TB/hr) compressed
    4. LTO-4 capacity – 800GB native – 1.6TB compressed / 120MB/s (432GB/hr) native – 240MB/s (864GB/hr) compressed
    5. LTO-3 capacity – 400GB native – 800GB compressed / 80MB/s (288GB/hr) native – 160MB/s (576GB/hr) compressed
    6. LTO-2 capacity – 200GB native – 400GB compressed / 40MB/s (144GB/hr) native – 80MB/s (288GB/hr) compressed
    7. LTO-1 capacity – 100GB native – 200GB compressed / 20MB/s (72GB/hr) native – 40MB/s (144GB/hr) compressed
  2. Can I read data from previous generations?
    1. A drive can read data from a cartridge in its own generation and the two prior generations i.e. LTO-7 can read LTO-5 tapes.
  3. Can I write data to previous tape generations?
    1. A drive can write data to it’s own generation and to a cartridge from the immediate prior generation format i.e. LTO-7 can write LTO-6 tapes.
  4. Can I use LTO-7 tapes in an LTO-6 drive?
    1. No.  You could put an LTO-6 tape in an LTO-7 drive and it will perform as an LTO-6 drive.
  5. What is LTO WORM?
    1. WORM allows you to write data to tape once.  Written data cannot be overwritten or erased.  WORM (Write Once Read Many), therefore you can only write to the tape.  You can write to the tape, remove it, re-insert and then continue to append to the tape until it is full.  WORM tape can be used for evidential purposes as it is tamper-proof.  Ideally used for backing up important information that needs to be retained for long time periods i.e. architectural drawings, land registry, scientific testing.
  6. What is LTFS?
    1. Linear Tape File System (LTFS) was initially developed by IBM as a self-describing tape format as a way of writing to LTO tapes (LTO-5 onwards) as if they are large USB or disk drives.  Historically, there needed to be an external database that contained the metadata tape contents, with LTFS the metadata (file name, folder, time stamp, directory) is now written to tape allowing LTFS to be an open standard and cross-platform media.   They remove the need for backup software and allow you to “drop-n-drag” files using file explorer.  These files are then written directly to tape and a tape header is updated with the contents of the tape.  When this tape is then inserted in to another LTFS drive it reads the header and understands the contents of the tape.  LTFS work with Windows / Apple / Linux file systems.
  7. How often should I clean my drive?
    1. There are two choices when it comes to cleaning a drive.  1. Do not clean the drive unless the drive requests a clean, otherwise you will unnecessarily wear out the drives heads. 2. Allow the backup software to alert you to clean the drive when it has carried out a number of read / write passes.
  8. How long can data be stored on tape?
    1. Providing you store the tapes in the correct environmental conditions 30+ years should be achievable.
  9. Can tapes be encrypted?
    1. Since the advent LTO-4 drives, encryption can be used in two ways.  Native encryption within the drives or software encryption through your backup software.  The drives use the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard with Galois/Counter Mod of Operation (or AES256-GCM for short). It is authenticated encryption that achieves very high speeds in hardware with low cost and low latency. AES256-GCM provides both data confidentiality and data integrity in a single, easy-to-use solution.
  10. Why use tape?
    1. Tape has been for decades used primarily as a backup media.  As tape capacities have increased and reliability improved, tape is now increasingly being used for archive purposes as it is affordable, quite simply LTO provides the lowest cost per GB of any other storage media.  It is also Green, easy to duplicate and you have the ability to remove tapes for DR or offsite purposes.  It has also for a number of years been used within the film and post production industry for data interchange, whereby footage is stored and transported on tape from film location to the editors offices.
  11. What interfaces are available for drives?
    1. Drives can be supplied with SAS 6GB/s, iSCSI or Thunderbolt interfaces.  Autoloaders and libraries can also be supplied with Fibre Channel interfaces.
  12. What are the dimensions of a tape?
    1. (Wx H x D) 4.1″ x 4″ x 0.8″ (105.4 mm x 102 mm x 21.5 mm)
  13. What is the operating life of a tape drive?
    1. LTO-7 provides an MTBF of 250,000 hours at 100% duty cycle.
  14. How can you ensure your data will be secured for backup?
    1. The best way of ensuring your backup has been successful is to run a verify pass, once you backup has completed.
  15. What is a tape drive?
    1. A drive is available as a 5.25″ half height internal drive or external desktop drive.  Allows you to backup and restore data from your servers and desktops, enabling you to restore information in the event of data loss, corruption or ransomware.
  16. What is a tape autoloader?
    1. An autoloader typically houses a maximum of two tape drives and up to 24 media slots.  Normally supplied with a barcode reader, they easily allow you to keep track of the tapes and where backed up files are stored. Supplied as 19″ rackmount units.
  17. What is a tape library?
    1. A library can have multiple drives and supports 100’s or thousands of tapes.  Normally supplied with a barcode reader, they easily allow you to keep track of the tapes and where backed up files are stored. Can be bought as 19″ rackmount or standalone units.
  18. Can I mix tape drives in my tape library?
    1. This is now possible as many backup software applications allow you to partition the library.  So you could have a partition for backup using the latest drives and a partition for archiving.  As the backup software tracks the tapes it know where i.e. LTO-6 drives and tape reside and can easily identify these using the barcode labels.
  19. If we want to archive to tape, what is the best way of protecting the data?
    1. Make a minimum of 2 copies
    2. Ensure the tapes are kept in separate locations
    3. Keeps the tapes secured in a data safe (not a fire safe)
    4. Ensure that they are stored in the correct environmental conditions
    5. Every 2-3 years bring back a tape to check for any degradation
  20. What are the operating and storage conditions for tapes?
    1. Operating conditions – Temperature 50~113°F (10~45°C) / Humidity 10~80%RH*
    2. Short term storage – Temperature 60~95°F (16~35°C) / Humidity 20~80%RH*
    3. Long term storage – Temperature 60~77°F (16~25°C) / Humidity 20~50%RH*
    4. Transportation – Temperature 9~120°F (-23~49°C) / Humidity 5~80%RH*
  21. What is LTO?
    1. Linear Tape Open is an open tape standard that all licensed tape media and manufacturers have to adhere to.  Originally developed by Seagate, IBM & HP.  Quantum acquired the manufacturing and design rights from Seagate.  The first drives appeared in 2000 and were originally designed to compete with Quantum DLT / Super DLT drives as Quantum had market dominance.  All licensees have to sign up with http://www.lto.org/ in order to sell, manufacture and develop products.

    Spectra T Infinity LTO Library

  22. How is LTO future proofed?
    1. There is a roadmap from the LTO consortium that allows LTO-10 48TB native / 120TB compressed, 1,100 MB/s native.  So for at least the next 6-8 years LTO will continue to be a viable storage media.
  • * Maximum wet bulb temperature : no condensation at 79°F (26°C)
  • We provide everything to do with LTO tape technology including media, labels, storage, transportation cases and backup software from all the major software vendors.

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