LTFS and LTO - Can't be that hard... can it?

LTFS has now established itself as THE de-facto file format used for creating universally accepted LTO tapes within the media industry.

The question is how can you go about using LTFS, what software is out there for you, how much does it cost and how do YOU expect to use it within your post house / production houses workflow? 

Archiving to data tape (rather than video tape) has been around for some time now, but finding a system that implements LTFS and LTO in the media sector in a simple fashion is not as easy as you would first think.

What do you want it to do?
Most people have a simplistic view of the way they want to back up their data and what use it will be to them, but it would appear that software manufacturers are not in align with some of the more 'grass roots' users that are now having to adopt deep archive solutions.

Most productions want to archive at the very least their rushes as these are the most valuable assets that they have.

Once they have they nicely archived away they obviously want to be able to search a database to tell them which tape they placed their valuable assets onto and so be able to retrieve them as and when needed.

So in a nut shell they want to...

  • Implement a simple back up plan from disc storage to Tape storage in a standard fashion (*LTFS).
  • Have a simple database created based upon the tapes contents.
  • Be able to search the database on a simple search criteria.
  • Locate the tape with the needed data.
  • Restore the data back to disc for further use.
  • Simple solution should be under £5k including a single LTO Drive.
  • Not be tied in with a vendor that is not a specialist in this field (Avid or Editshare for example)

* The Linear Tape File System format is a self-describing tape format developed by IBM to address tape archive requirements.

On the face of things there has to a number of simple, easily deployed, solutions out there that can do this for you... isn't there? Digging about this would be a No Brainer, but sadly its not.

While the open source LTFS standard (available to almost ALL SAS attached LTO drive on both PC and Mac) can be very simply added as a desktop 'drag and drop' function, this does not offer you any searchable database that can help identify the location of media once it has been removed from the drive. You can make your own database with the likes of Access and FileMaker, but this is tedious and manually driven, so prone to errors.

Xendata Desktop offers the closest cost effective solution I can think of, but sadly does not offer a flexible interface (such as a Web Interface) that allows multiple people to search the database that it creates.

StoreageDNA does offer you a much more flexible and automated process but this comes at a much greater price, but can span multiple sites (network connection depending)

Interesting, the office admins 'go to' bit of software Retrospect has now added in LTFS, but as of yet I have not had chance to look at it.

Anyone else had experience of the current LTO software fiasco?


  1. CatDV can enhance the XenData Desktop with X2500 solution if necessary.
    Macs have more software choice at the moment. Check out:
    PreRoll Post
    Or Yoyotta LTFS


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