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Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

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Eugen Cocalea_1
Occasional Advisor

Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library


I am pretty unfamiliar with tape drives but I got a task to look for one.

What I want (in large) about them:
- to do daily backup of about 30-40 Gigs of data
- i would like them to be scsi / external / rackmountable (one with more of those attributes will fit) but I am not 100% decided I want it like this. I mean, I will rather take a faster / better one that is not external, etc.
- eventually to have a library (which I suppose it's something like a jukebox for tapes).
- price is not very much an issue since I will look for second hand drives

I would thank you very much (and assign points) to anyone that writes more than the model, I mean issues about them, experience, what to do, what not.

Oh, and if you have advices like 'Do not buy THAT tape drive', please feel free.

Thank you in advance,

It's not a shame to be born stupid. It's a shame to die being stupid.
Vincent Farrugia
Honored Contributor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library


I would go for the DLT8000.

Speed: 6Mb/s native (12Mb/s compressed).
Capacity: 40Gb, 80Gb compressed.

This will suit you well.

You can put it in a library or autoloader, but you will have to buy another drive (external/internal ones ae different physically).

Problem is... the current crop of libraries only support SDLT drives (which is 1 step ahead of DLT8000 drives). So if you want to be prepared for the future, the SDLT is the one. If you want a current configuration, the DLT8000 is the one.

SDLT: speed: 11Mb/s native, 22Mb/s compressed
Capacity: 160Gb native, 320Gb compressed.
It is backward-compatible to DLT8000 media.

This is a bit too much for you capacity-wise. Your choice.

Tape Drives RULE!!!
Jeff XSi
Frequent Advisor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

A DLT 80 ( 8000 ) would be a good choice I agree, however the VS80 drive would be more cost effective.

The VS80 drive is around half the retail proce of the DLT 80 and although you would be purchasing a second hand unit, the pricing should still reflect this.

There are 2 considerations when choosing between these two models...

Firstly the VS80 uses a different write format to that of the DLT 80 and as such they are not cross compatible... E.g if you used a DLT IV cart in a DLT 80 then tried to insert it into a VS80, it would eject immediately..

Full media compatibility can be found here -

Secondly the transfer rate of the VS ( like the price !! ) is half that of the DLT 80. The max transfer rate is 6mb/sec compressed and 3mb/sec native. The same specs as a DAT 40 model.

At the end of the day its up to you what drive you choose as both have strengths and weaknesses..


Leif Halvarsson_2
Honored Contributor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

40 GB data is quite a lot of data. If using a DLT vs80 you need 7-14 hours for a full backup (depending on compression ratio and your disk system). I think you need at least a DLT 8000 (and this drive is perhaps easier to find as secon hand then vs80 or SDLT drives).
Jeff XSi
Frequent Advisor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

Umm I disagree - assuming native transfer rates - 3mb/sec equates to 180 mb/min , 10,800 mb/hour ( 10.5 gb )

Hence 4 hours...If compression is enabled then its half this speed - but yes there are a lot of external factors that could influence this.

Leif Halvarsson_2
Honored Contributor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

Jeff, of course you are correct. I must have been sleeping when I wrote my previous reply.
Jeff XSi
Frequent Advisor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

Hehe :) Thats ok
Chris Vail
Honored Contributor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

I don't regard 30-40 gigs as a lot of data. We do 2-8 TB of tapes backups a day here.
This being an HP website, I feel obligated to suggest an AIT drive. These can later be integrated into a library, and provide pretty good speed and service. Here's a nice one:
You're much, much better off getting current technology rather than saving money on DLT or SDLT tapes and tape drives. The reason is simple: technology that is already 3-5 years old is not likely to be supported in another 3-5 years, when you'll need to upgrade it.

War story: we purchased a StorageTek L700 tape array with (12) DLT drives in it just 3 years ago. We outgrew it last year. We had the option of upgrading to SDLT's, and keeping our tape media investment (many tens of thousands of dollars in media), or dumping them completely and getting something that stores even more. Our capacity needs were so great that we had to dump them in favor of StorageTek 9940a's, which cost a LOT of money. The 9940 tapes are double the price of the DLT/SDLT's, and the drives themselves were about $10k each vs $4k each for the SDLTs.

Fortunately, StorageTek is allowing us to trade in our 9940a's for 9940b's. They'll be remanufactured to the new spec. The 9940b's store 36GB/hour, with 200GB/tape. We'll also be upgrading to the Powderhorn 9310 (we wrote the P.O. last week). This will have 20 drives and 5000 slots of storage.

The moral of the story: get CURRENT technology in tape solutions. Technology changes so fast that any investment you make now in tapes will probably not be supported in a few years, when you will want to upgrade. Obviously, you can't get tommorrows technology today, so the best you can do is to get today's technology today.

Dave La Mar
Honored Contributor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

Eugen -
Our shop using and HP SureStore 10/180 tape library. (10 drives, 180 LTO slots)
After some initial hardware/software problems it has been pretty solid for over a year.
Transfer rate is very good (on fibre).
Veritas Netbackup Data Center is our management tool.
Runs 24X7 with backups in mg to tb range.
Not a cheap solution but a good operations dept. non-interactive solution.
Interaction is allowed but not necessarily required.
Handles scripted and GUI scheduled backups.
Software allows for tape pools which is very handy when mapping out off-site disaster recovery needs.

Happy shopping.

"I'm not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information."
Brian M Rawlings
Honored Contributor

Re: Looking to buy a tape drive w/ or w/out library

Eugen: I would suggest that, whatever you end up getting, order it in at least a small changer, or small library. I would further suggest that, for your size and budget, a DLT8000 or vS80 drive/library will work fine.

Jeff mentioned transfer rate on the VS80 (3MB/s native) is half the transfer rate of the DLT8000 (6MB/s), which is correct. The part that should interest you, however, is that the capacity of the two drives is identical, 40GB native (more with compression, and they compress at the same rate, so no difference in capacity at any compression).

The other difference is that DLT8000s are the "full-height" form factor, whereas VS80 drives are "half-height" units, which allow them to be used in changers that can be racked in 1U of space, and still hold 8 or 9 tapes with the drive unit and robotics. These changers are available new or used from HP, and are well suited for the backup sizes you mention. They are not heavy duty enough to handle many changes per night, month after month, but you are talking about one tape change per night, a nice light duty cycle.

I suggest a changer or small library because it eliminates many of the manual aspects of backups. If you don't have to touch your tapes for a week, you reduce both the headache, and the possibility of operator error (wrong tape, forgot to change it, etc). Everyone has war stories about this, "I had to come in on my vacation to change the tape...", etc.

One basic backup strategy is to have enough "slot capacity" in your library to hold a month's worth of backups, typically four weeks in a rotation, with one full backup and six 'incremental' backups each week. Your strategy should be crafted to meet your needs, this is only one very common solution I see in wide use.

In your case, a full backup would most likely fit on one tape, and six incremental backups would fit on another tape. An 8-slot or 9-slot changer would therefore handle this type of backup quite nicely, if it all works out as expected. This is assuming that you would get at least some compression. If you get the much spoken of but seldom seen "2:1" compression, you would still probably end up with 2 tapes per week, since you wouldn't want all your incrementals on the same tapes as your fulls... but that's a matter of preference and prudence, not a requirment.

Let me add that I'd suggest making two full backups per week, with five incrementals in between, and taking one of the full backups out of the library/changer unit, to send it to a secure vault or another location of some kind. This is the first step in disaster planning. It complicates the tape rotations, but it's something to consider.

As to brands, you didn't mention what sort of host you'd be connecting this unit to, or what all you'd be backing up. Presuming that it's an HP server, I'd look at an HP library, to get single-vendor support. It can get tricky if problems develop, and the library vendor says "it's not in our box", and the server guys say the same thing. Other than that, I've always had good luck with ADIC units, although I don't have direct experience with their small changer line.

Best Regards, --bmr
We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. (Benjamin Franklin)