Thread: The age old war between LTO and Drives...

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  1. #1 The age old war between LTO and Drives... 
    This cycles around every so often.

    I've run LTO5 for a while. It's an utter pain really to manage really. So looking again, i can get LTO7 now and the price is not too crazy. I am also aware that Seagate offer Exos drives which are designed for archiving. I do have a couple of older seagate 8TB drives which were also dedicated as Archive drives. They write slower and not designed for constant overwriting because they are SMR based.

    To back up 60TB right now the LTO option is a more expensive but beyond that point then the costs of the tapes come more into play.

    On paper LTO will back up faster compared to the drives.

    But the drives are so much more convenient and will only get bigger and cheaper.

    So from a practical view. Copying 8TB to a drive and putting it on the shelf in the modern world (As in Exos drives) what are the cons?

    cheers
    Paul
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  2. #2  
    The con is simple: if you buy an 8TB drive and put it on the shelf for five years, will it spin up? Drives are perishable devices. They are designed to be used when purchased, for a limited time.
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Bob Gundu's Avatar
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    I just wish the LTO-8 dispute was resolved. The Tapes are still not available.
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  4. #4  
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    I think I really need to put something together that I can copy and paste about this subject since I talk about it so much.

    First, I am in the LTO industry first and foremost, so what I say is usually considered biased towards tape. One of our departments is also a data recovery company specializing in failed hard drives so I see a lot of issues that people have with hard drives on the consumer and business level.

    The biggest CON of a hard drive is that it is mechanical device. Just like your car it isn't IF it will fail, it's WHEN. Keeping a hard drive on a shelf is a big no-no because the mechanical guts have lubricants inside that can dry out over time. The only real maintenance you can do on a hard drive is use it.... and the longer you use a mechanical device the more wear and tear you're putting on it.

    Data Recovery on a normal hard drive can run you $200-$500 on a regular case and $1000+ on more severe issues such as bad read/write heads.

    The Seagate EXO drives and most drives over 8TB, these are helium filled drives that're welded shut so if you take it to a data recovery place and they need to open the drive, there's only 1 place I know of in the US that does it, Drivesavers. I think I've been told it's around $4000ish to work on a helium drive. Seagate also locks out the service area for data recovery companies so even if they wanted to fix it sometimes, they can't because Seagate wants to block any form of repair. IF you really want to use hard drives go with Western Digital, Hitachi, or Toshiba that don't do the shady lockouts.

    If you need any help picking out a tape drive, I'd be glad to help you, or you can check out magstor.com for Thunderbolt 3 and SAS solutions.

    We have a brand new model that has both an LTO6 and an LTO8 drive in the same desktop enclosure, so people can read back to LTO4 and write up to LTO8.
    Tim Gerhard
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Jarek Zabczynski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gundu View Post
    I just wish the LTO-8 dispute was resolved. The Tapes are still not available.
    What’s the latest on that?
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  6. #6  
    Digital FX Greg M's Avatar
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    A hard drive is not meant to sit on a shelf. REPEAT...a hard drive is not meant to sit on a shelf.
    If you use a hard drive to archive your footage, its not a question of will it fail...its a question of when.

    The only viable option is LTO...and if you get the right solution nothing beats it.
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  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Gerhard View Post
    I think I really need to put something together that I can copy and paste about this subject since I talk about it so much.
    Thank you Tim and everyone else for replying. You made some very good points. Especially about the nature of helium drives, that was news.

    I check because things move on. HD are different beasts now then they were 5 years ago so i feel it's worth checking. I have some clients who have quite a large data centre and i'm aware that they've had a number of LTO tape failures as well. Neither are infallible.

    Seagate sold dedicated drives for archiving which AFAIK become the Exos range. That got me wondering about the specifics of what makes a hard drive an archive. I understand all the issues about spinning discs on shelves but at the same time is it not possible to engineer a drive designed to be okay. A sealed drive with materials that won't seize up? That was the essence of the question.

    For example i've got a 1984 Mac and a 5MB SCSI hard drive still. I booted it up for my youngest the other week. It still works and that drive must be 20+years old and not used in that time. So it's not a given that the drives *will* fail. A 20 year retention period suits me fine.

    The cost of LTO is high enough that it isn't a no-brainer either. The cost of a single drive would pay for numerous hard drives. The life span of the Exos are huge. Maybe someone should invent an enclosure that spins up the drives for a while each day to check and then spin down as an alternative.

    But all things said. I suspect that the truth is that LTO does make more sense still. Does anyone know *why* the drives are so expensive? Bit like HMI lighting really, no real reason but the customer base!

    cheers
    Paul
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  8. #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Tiemann View Post
    The con is simple: if you buy an 8TB drive and put it on the shelf for five years, will it spin up? Drives are perishable devices. They are designed to be used when purchased, for a limited time.
    Hmm, I got quite a lot of old drives and I got plenty of old tapes...

    From my experience drives win like 99% of the time. So far very few drives that I had sitting on a shelf not plugged in have had trouble to start up even if it´s been like 15 years passed. For tapes on the other hand... the deck is no longer around or broken and yes tapes break as well. I´m not so sure they break less then drives, atlas thats not my experience especially when putting old wack tape players in the mix.

    on top of that yo got the hassle of installing drivers for those decks and making sure you got the right connectors... 20 years ago there where not USB or thunderbolt or fire wire... But all kinds of other connectors. Drives if stripped naked it´s always possible to find the right adapter even for really old drives.

    So my preferred choice today is 8 or 12 TB Archive drives. If you got clones of them there is not so much to worry about.
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  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by Björn Benckert View Post
    So my preferred choice today is 8 or 12 TB Archive drives. If you got clones of them there is not so much to worry about.
    Ah, and i thought the decision was made.

    This reflects my own experience. I'm aware of the mantra about leaving drives but at the same time i don't recall in 30 odd years of messing around with them (and i'm talking hundreds over that time) of anything not working when spinning up. And the purpose of the thread was to quantify this rather than speak in established ideas.

    So Björn, do you exclusively use these drives or tape as well. I assume these are the exos drives - do you keep them naked or have some kind of quick swap system?

    cheers
    Paul
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  10. #10  
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    I was going to investigate these "Archive" drives because I wanted to know why Seagate's explanation as to why they claim it's for archiving. I see that Exos was formerly called "Archive", but they changed the name to Exos most likely for getting flak calling them archive drives.

    https://www.seagate.com/enterprise-storage/exos-drives/

    These are just considered enterprise level datacenter drives. They do mention that their pre-built NAS systems are intended for archiving in some use cases.
    Tim Gerhard
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