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When did you do your last backup? Most users will probably have to think about it - and many will come to the conclusion that they haven't created any backups at all. Please don't forget that a simple virus infection, faulty hardware, or accidental deletion or modification of files can kill important data in an instant. The loss of personal data is bad enough, but for companies, this can cripple your business beyond repair within seconds!
Take the time to do backups, at least weekly. And the more you change your data, the more often you should replicate it to secure media. The easiest way to get backups done is a simple file copy onto another hard drive or recordable discs. But if you want a more comfortable and more powerful solution - including incremental backups, scheduled backups, varying backups and multiple target media - you can't get around purchasing a professional product.
Magnetic tape has a very long history of storing data for computer use. Even as far back as 1951, tapes were used in conjunction with one of the earliest computers, the UNIVAC I. Popular culture has firmly associated computers with magnetic tape, and since the 1970s motion pictures have been depicting computers as large boxes with huge reels of magnetic tape spinning intermittently. In the 1980s, many common PCs (like the Commodore Vic 20) used audio tape drives as their primary storage method, running programs off them in the same way that PCs use hard disks today.
By nature, a tape drive will have dismal access times, as it has to wind the reel to a precise spot on the tape to read or write a specific file. With the advent of floppy and hard disk drives - which can access different files with much greater ease than a long, linear tape - the magnetic tape drive gained some humbling competition. Magnetic tape manufacturers therefore focused on the media's main strength, which is the large potential storage capacity it offers. Since then, magnetic tape drives have become relegated to large-scale backup use, and have been an integral part of archive storage ever since.
Fast forward to the present, and modern high-capacity tape drives. We took a look at two current Tandberg streaming tape drives with up to 200 GB uncompressed capacity.
For some time now, the de facto standard magnetic tape format has been DLT, or Digital Linear Tape. The DLT format was brought to market in the mid-1980s, and the standard was subsequently purchased by Quantum Corporation, who currently licenses the technology to other companies. Since the new millennium, however, a competing standard has been making some real headway, and will perhaps emerge as the next standard in the years to come: Linear Tape Open (LTO). As its name suggests, LTO was created as an open standard to combat proprietary formats like DLT, which are expensive for manufacturers because of the licensing fees they require.
LTO was developed by some big names in the storage industry, notably IBM, HP and Seagate. It's an evolving standard, the goal of which is to double capacity and increase speed every generation. It is also designed to be backward compatible, so each new generation of drives is capable of reading tapes written by drives from the previous two generations, and even able to write to tapes from the previous generation. This upgrade path makes LTO very attractive to IT professionals.
The first LTO standard, LTO-1, was released in 2000, with a maximum data capacity of 100 GB and a maximum speed of 20 MB/s. Both the capacity and speed were doubled to 200 GB and 40 MB/s in the second LTO-2 standard, which was introduced in 2002. The current standard is LTO-3, released in 2005, and once again it offers double the previous generation's capacity and speed: 400 GB capacity and 80 MB/s maximum transfer speed.
slide show: Tandberg 420LTO and 220LTO Streamers