DLT, SDLT, LTO Data Tape FAQs

Updated 3/24/2011 by SuperMediaStore Staff

The information below has been compiled by SuperMediaStore.com through extensive research performed by our staff and information provided by the manufacturers.

 About DLT Tape Media

  • What is DLT?
  • Is DLT tape technology a standard format?
  • Why do DLT tape data tape cartridges require protective cases?
  • How many times can I use a DLT computer tape?
  • Which cleaning tape is compatible with the media drive?

About SDLT Tape Media

  • What is Super DLT tape technology?
  • What is the basis for Super DLT tape technology?
  • Is Super DLT tape technology fully backward compatible with older DLT tape products?
  • How does Super DLT compare to LTO Ultrium?
  • What happens if I put a 220GB formatted cartridge in a SDLT 320 drive?
  • Can I use a DLT Cleaning Tape in a SDLT drive?
  • Is SDLT tape technology widely available?
  • What is the storage capacity of a SDLT drive?

About LTO Tape Media

  • What is LTO tape?
  • What did Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Seagate contribute to LTO Technology?
  • What is the LTO format?
  • Are products based on the LTO format compatible with any other storage products that exist today?
  • How can users be sure of data interchangeability among LTO format products?
  • What are the key feature differences between LTO format Generation 1 and Generation 2?
  • What are the backward compatibility characteristics of the LTO format Generation 2?
  • What are the Uncompressed Capacities for LTO Three Generations Tape?
  • Why did Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Seagate develop new open tape format specifications?
  • What is an "open tape format specification"?
  • How does an open tape format specification ultimately benefit customers?
  • How many times can I use an LTO tape?

About DLT

  • What is DLT?

DLT (Digital Linear Tape) is a magnetic tape format developed by Digital Equipment Corporation in the mid 1980s.  DLT tapes are a half-inch wide and usually come packaged in sturdy plastic containers. DLT tape can store between 10 gigabytes to 40 gigabytes of uncompressed data, making it a popular option for mid-range data storage. Visit Supermediastore.com for a huge selection of DLT cassettes.

  • Is DLT tape technology a standard format?

DLT tape is the unquestioned industry standard format for mid-range computing backup and archive applications. Meeting the doubling of capacity needs every 18 months, DLT tapes have earned the distinction of being the only format capable of matching Moore's Law. In addition, DLT tapes offer improved consistency along with sustained capacity and performance. Another compelling feature of the technology is its ability to maintain total media and data compatibility between all generations of drives. This not only means that data written on previous generations of DLT tape drives can be accessed by current ones, but data written to a tape on a specific drive can be accessed by any other DLT tape drive. By providing an industry standard format, data availability and transferability are virtually unlimited. As a result, DLT technology is unmatched by any other format in the industry.

  • Why do DLT tape data tape cartridges require protective cases?

DLT tape is the ideal long-term archival media with a storage life rated at 30+ years. To ensure a DLT tape sees its maximum shelf life, it should remain safely stored in its protective case when not in use in the tape drive or robotic cartridge handling system. For both intermediate and long-term storage, store them within a reasonable temperature & humidity range. Information from Quantum Corporation, Supermediastore.com and other sources supports these guidelines. The same recommendations may also be found in the ECMA, ISO, and ANSI standards for DLT 1/2-inch magnetic tape.

  • How many times can I use a DLT computer tape?

To ensure your data remains safe, Supermediastore.com recommends switching to a new DLT tape after 250 uses. However, the duration will vary depending on the data storage and safe handling techniques.

 

 

Which cleaning tape is compatible with the media drive?

Using a drive head that has not been properly cleaned may cause data errors. Regular cleanings are recommended to avoid such problems. In addition, the built-in fan operates regardless of drive operation, sucking small amounts of dust in, and leading to malfunctions in the long-run. Supermediastore.com also recommends that you clean the drive after each break in use lasting more than a few days.

 

DLT/SDLT

Cartridge daily hours of use

Less than 6 hours

Over 6 hours

Cleaning frequency

Once a month

Once every 10 days

LTO

Cartridge daily hours of use

Less than 6 hours

Over 6 hours

Cleaning frequency

Once a month, or back up data every 100 hours

Once every one to two weeks, or back up data every 50 hours

 

 

About SDLT

  • What is Super DLT tape technology?

Super DLT tape technology is the next generation of the DLT tape technology platform. It is an extension to the highly successful DLT format, the industry standard for mid-range UNIX and NT system backup and archive applications. From entry-level departmental servers to complex enterprise class automated tape library systems, DLT tape technology provides the most comprehensive data protection storage devices.

  • What is the basis for Super DLT tape technology?

Super DLT tape technology is based on Laser Guided Magnetic Recording (LGMR) technology.  It utilizes a unique combination of state-of-the-art optical and magnetic technologies to dramatically increase the number of recording tracks on the data-bearing surface of the media.

  • Is Super DLT tape technology fully backward compatible with older DLT tape products?

Super DLT tape technology offers backward-read compatibility with DLT tape IV cartridge systems. Consistent with one of the most compelling attributes of DLT tape technology, this ensures compatibility with multiple generations of DLT tape drives and millions of data cartridges. In addition, the DLT 8000 drive is also compatible with Super DLT tape-based drives offering a viable migration path for increasing data storage needs.

  • How does Super DLT compare to LTO Ultrium?

SDLT is the next generation product from Quantum. The initial version of SDLT is similar to LTO Ultrium with a native capacity of 110GB per cartridge and a native data transfer rate of 11MB/sec for SDLT. LTO Ultrium has a native capacity of 100GB and a native transfer rate of 15MB/sec.

  • What happens if I put a 220GB formatted cartridge in a SDLT 320 drive?

The SDLT 320 tape drive will read and write to that cartridge in SDLT 220 format.

  • Can I use a DLT Cleaning Tape in a SDLT drive?

No, never use a DLT cleaning tape in a SDLT drive due to incompatibility.  Supermediastore.com carries specialized cleaning tape for your SDLT drive.

  • Is SDLT tape technology widely available?

SDLT tape technology is the most widely available tape technology on the market. It is available in solutions ranging from single drive tabletop configurations to enterprise class automated tape libraries containing tens of drives and thousands of data cartridges. SDLT tape solutions were developed and made available by major computer and storage suppliers (IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Quantum, and Sun), all primary tape automation developers (StorageTek, ATL, ADIC, and Qualstar Corporation), as well as a multitude of VARs, resellers and distributors. SDLT tape products are also manufactured and sold under license by Tandberg Data Inc.

What is the storage capacity of a SDLT drive?

The storage capacity of a SDLT-220 drive is 110GB native and 220GB compressed. The storage capacity of a SDLT-320 drive is 160MB native and 320MB compressed.

 

About LTO

  • What is LTO tape?

LTO (Linear Tape-Open) is a tape standard developed by HP, IBM, and Seagate as a competitor to DLT. LTO tape stores data in 384 data tracks divided into four data bands of 96 tracks each. The four data bands are bordered by bands of servo information written during tape manufacture. Data bands are filled in a linear fashion, one at a time. LTO tapes contain 4KB of non-volatile memory which are read through a non-contacting passive RF interface. This storage space contains data about the tape and may be read without needing to read the magnetic tape itself. Supermediastore.com always provides the best of the best in LTO tape!

  • What did Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Seagate contribute to LTO Technology?

HP, IBM and Seagate each provided expert knowledge of customer needs and complementary technology that provided for delivery of a best-of-breed technology and promotes a strong foundation for data interchange. The open licensing process is meant to attract other companies to the tape industry.

  • What is the LTO format?

In either a stand-alone or an automated environment, the LTO tape format specification is optimized for high capacity and performance with outstanding reliability. Using a single-reel tape cartridge to maximize capacity, the LTO tape format is ideally suited for backup, restore and archive applications. It is our intent that the LTO tape format will meet enterprise needs through a single server user on a roadmap or on a migration path extending well into the next decade. The LTO tape format establishes a new benchmark for large volume backup and archive.

  • Are products based on the LTO format compatible with any other storage products that exist today?

The new LTO tape format specification has been designed to incorporate the best-of-breed strengths of several existing technologies. Compatibility with existing formats was not a primary consideration but is not prohibited by the LTO tape format specification.

  • How can users be sure of data interchangeability among LTO format products?

To verify that these products comply with the LTO tape format specification, the LTO format trademark identifies products that are subject to annual 3rd party compliance verification sample testing. This compliance maximizes the likelihood for data interchange of LTO Ultrium tape media between different manufacturers' LTO tape mechanisms. Use of this trademark will be granted only after an LTO tape format product has earned compliance verification.

  • What are the key feature differences between LTO format Generation 1 and Generation 2?

Speed and capacity is expected to double with each generation of the LTO format. Generation 1 of the LTO format allowed for up to 100GB capacity (uncompressed) in a single cartridge, while Generation 2 doubled the capacity up to 200GB (uncompressed) using Generation 2 data cartridges. The data transfer peak performance speed doubled, going from up to 20MB/second native in Generation 1 to 40MB/second native in Generation 2.

Users will benefit from a greater than a 30 percent increase in the number of tracks and average tape speed, as well as an improved methods in recording. The LTO format Generation 2 protects users' investment with outstanding data protection and its capability to read and write Generation 1 cartridges.

  • What are the backward compatibility characteristics of the LTO format Generation 2?

LTO compatibility is defined with two investment protecting concepts:
1) An LTO drive is expected to read data from a cartridge in its own generation and at least the two prior generations.

2) An LTO drive is expected to write data to a cartridge in its own generation and to a cartridge from the immediate prior generation in the prior generation format.

For example:
- An LTO format Generation 2 drive will read and write data on an LTO format Generation 1 cartridge as specified by the Generation 1 format.
- An LTO format Generation 2 drive will read and write data on an LTO format Generation 2 cartridge as specified by the Generation 2 format.

  • What are the Uncompressed Capacities for LTO Three Generations Tape?

The LTO tape standard is designed to last for four generations of magnetic tape technology.

 

LTO Tape Generation

Uncompressed Capacity

Generation 1 (LTO 3)

100GB

Generation 2 (LTO 2)

200GB

Generation 3 (LTO 3)

400GB

 
  • Why did Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Seagate develop new open tape format specifications?

Customers, OEMs and industry analysts believe that fragmentation in the tape industry and proliferation of formats and technologies have complicated the buying decisions of the customers. With these issues in mind, HP, IBM and Seagate have taken steps to define a technology that has led to open tape format specifications to better serve multiple market needs and receive support from multiple suppliers.

  • What is an "open tape format specification"?

An open tape format specification is one that is readily available to all potential manufacturers and offers licenses for the IP (Intellectual Property) at a reasonable price. The LTO tape format specification meets this criteria.

  • How does an open tape format specification ultimately benefit customers?

The end-user and OEMs benefit from this open tape format specification approach through the availability of multiple sources of product, multiple sources of tape cartridges and common tape format specifications for interchange. The pro-competitive environment fostered by multiple sources of product leads to swifter innovation and enhancements, generally leading to lower prices and greater data compatibility. For OEMs, open tape format specifications shorten their qualification cycles and reduce complexities in system configuration.

  • How many times can I use an LTO tape?

We recommend replacing an LTO tape after around 250 uses to ensure the safety of your data. This is a variable figure depending on usage conditions.