What is LTO? – LTO Tape & LTO Capacity

Posted on 16-Aug-2013 Tape Drives

LTO stands for Linear Tape-Open, and is a data storage device which employs the use of magnetic tape. Considered to be one of the most reliable means of storage, this technology has been heavily developed by pioneering technology companies such as IBM, HP and Quantum.

With the original release of LTO Ultrium in 2000, which stored 100 GB, tape drive capacity has steadily increased over time – roughly doubling every 2 or 3 years. The most commonly used tape drives used today are LTO 3, LTO 4, LTO 5 and LTO 6, which was released in June 2013.

Common LTO Tape Drive misconceptions:

Tape is dead; tape capacity will never rival disc or digital storage:

With the LTO 6 tape drive, holding 2.5 TB of data, and with some of the largest tape libraries holding 400,000 tapes (3.6 Exabytes) , tape certainly rivals, if not trumps, other data storage means.

Tape is an old technology, and is therefore unreliable:

Quite the contrary, magnetic tape storage is widely considered to be the most reliable means of mass data storage; in fact a survey of IT organizations in North America and Europe found that, “57% are still using tape-based systems at the core of their backup and disaster recovery strategies”.


The cloud is the future of mass data storage:

Though cloud is a popular solution for personal data backup, when it comes to large scale data storage, cloud-based archiving is simply not possible. In fact, major cloud service providers like Google have come to the realisation that they cannot safely archive hundreds of petabytes of data onto disc, and are therefore investing in their own tape initiatives.


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