Do you need to quickly and safely archive Terabytes of data on a regular basis? Can’t afford an enterprise backup system? The mLogic mTape might be a solution worth looking at, and Z Systems wants to show it to you!
The mLogic mTape is a standalone LTO-7 data tape drive with a thunderbolt interface.
That means very simple connectivity to just about any Mac (iMac, Macbook Pro, Mac Pro, even a Mac Mini) with blazing fast data transfer – no messing with SAS or fibre channel cards, cables, and the like.
LTO-7 , which means the seventh generation of the open standard, will hold 6 TeraBytes on one tape, AND it will write data at 300 MBytes/sec – that’s almost 3 times as fast as an external spinning disk drive. These tapes are supposed to be good for 30 years if stored in proper conditions.
LTFS (Linear Tape File System) is a super cool idea that allows these LTO tapes to function on their own, like a USB thumb drive or a regular spinning drive. You can, but don’t have to use traditional backup or archival software like Retrospect, Tollis, Archiware, etc. You can dump a bunch of data onto tape using LTFS and send it anywhere – no need to recreate archive indices.
This makes LTO tapes using the LTFS a great way to share and archive big media files without carrying around boxes of firewire drives and such. Imagine putting a whole shooting day of 4k RAW files on one small tape – and doing it 3 x faster than copying off to external drives.
LTO technology is designed to immediately read and verify every piece of data back after it writes it. If there is an error, it rewrites the same data to a different part of the tape and moves on – you don’t even know it is happening. All you do know is that the data got onto the tape safely and completely.
Having said all of this, there are a few challenges when using LTFS at the finder level on the Mac. these include:
- Illegal Characters – there are a lot of characters that are legal in the Mac OS which aren’t legal in LTFS. When copying these over, you’ll get an error and everything will grind to a halt.
- Just like a thumb or external drive, the only way to see what files are on a tape is to load the tape in and look, which can get to be a pain.
Luckily enough, there are several programs designed to work ‘on top’ of LTFS and solve these problems. Our favorite is Imagine Products PreRoll Post – it is a $499 application that serves as a front end to an LTO tape archive using LTFS. It seamlessly replaces illegal characters, keeps an active index of all your archives on your computer, and will even generate html and csv files listing the attributes of your archived files so you can search these without having to put a tape in. This makes life a lot easier and archiving even faster and more efficient – well worth it!
We have three different ways to help you experience the wonders of LTO tape archiving with mTape:
- Bring your data in to Z Systems – we’ll spool it off for you.
- Rent the drive and do it yourself, and
- Purchase a drive – if you think you are going to be doing this a lot – maybe more than once a month or so.
We also keep a stock of LTO-6 (2 TB) and LTO-7 (6TB) tapes on hand, so you won’t have to go running around town to find them.
A disclamer: This single tape drive system is really meant for individuals and smaller groups. If your organization is bigger, then it probably makes sense to look at a more powerful solution based on a multi-unit storage autoloader, such as SpectraLogic along with some enterprise archive software such as Archiware P5. These use the same underlying technology, but will scale to a lot more data, and collaborative workflows.