What is LTO Technology?

Linear Tape-Open Technology (LTO) is a tape-based data storage solution designed in an “open” format technology that allows manufacturing by any vendor that wishes to license the technology. The “open” nature of LTO technology enables compatibility between different vendors’ offerings and multiple sources of product and media. 

What is the Ultrium format?

The Ultrium tape format specification is LTO Technology optimized for high capacity and performance. The Ultrium format uses a single-reel tape cartridge to maximize capacity, and is ideally suited for backup, restore and archive applications. The format is user-agnostic, meaning that it addresses a wide variety of needs from a single-server user to complex multiple server enterprise environments.

Are Ultrium-formatted products compatible with any other storage products that exist today?

LTO-based products are not compatible with non-LTO tape products. The LTO Program created a competitive environment with multiple vendors offering unique features while maintaining data interchange among competing LTO offerings.

How can users confirm data interchangeability among Ultrium format products?

The Ultrium format trademark identifies products that have passed annual third-party compliance verification to ensure compliance with the Ultrium tape format specification. Use of this trademark is granted only after an Ultrium tape format product has passed the compliance verification testing process.

What is the LTO technology roadmap to future product generations?

The LTO Program provides a roadmap of expected technology and performance targets so that our licensees and their customers can adequately plan their technology offerings and purchasing. The roadmap represents intentions and goals.

Does the Ultrium format have backward compatibility?

LTO Ultrium drives up to generation 7 can read data from a cartridge in its own generation and two prior generations, LTO-8 Ultrium drives can only read LTO-8, LTO-7 and LTO-7 Type M media. An Ultrium drive can write data to a cartridge in its own generation and to a cartridge from the immediate prior generation (in the prior generation’s format).

For example:

An Ultrium format Gen. 7 drive will read and write data on an Ultrium format Gen. 7 (in the Gen 7 format) and 6 cartridge (in the Gen. 6 format) and read data on an Ultrium format Gen. 5 cartridge.
An Ultrium format Gen 8 drive will read and write data on an Ultrium format Gen 8 and Gen 7 cartridge (in the Gen 7 or Type M format).

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 investment. The competitive environment fostered by multiple sources of product can lead to faster paced innovation and enhancements, and can generally mean competitive prices and greater data compatibility.

What do Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and Quantum contribute to the LTO Program?

HPE, IBM and Quantum each provide expert knowledge of customer needs and complementary solutions that provide for the best technology while promoting a strong foundation for data interchange.  The companies also provide marketing support for the LTO format and encourage other companies to participate in this tape industry opportunity through the open licensing process.

Why are Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and Quantum collaborating on this open tape format specification?

Tape industry fragmentation over-complicates buying decisions for customers. With this in mind, HPE, IBM and Quantum are delivering technology that serves multiple needs for data storage  supported by multiple suppliers.

What is the pricing and availability of LTO Technology-based products?

For specific pricing questions, please contact individual sellers. The LTO Program website also contains updated information on LTO-licensed companies and product availability.

What are maintenance best practices for LTO cartridges?

LTO cartridges should be kept at room temperature and inside their original cases. Tape cartridges must be maintained within specific environmental specifications in terms of temperature, humidity and magnetic fields for proper operation and optimal performance. These specifications are printed on the information sleeve that comes with the cartridge. Vertical storage positioning is recommended for tape cartridges. While it is a good practice to re-wind LTO tapes on a yearly basis, it is not required if the cartridges are properly stored.

Are LTO cartridges affected by airport x-rays?

Magnetic recording media are not affected by x-rays. It’s important to note, however, that some international airports are now using magnetic devices to inspect luggage. This type of device or other devices emitting stray magnetic fields may affect magnetic media. If it’s permitted in the country you’re visiting, you should hand carry your material through airport security and ask for a non-magnetic inspection.

What is LTO Encryption?

LTO drives use the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard with Galois/Counter Mod of Operation (or AES256-GCM for short). It is authenticated encryption that achieves very high speeds in hardware with low cost and low latency. AES256-GCM provides both data confidentiality and data integrity in a single, easy-to-use solution.

For detailed information about the encryption feature in LTO tape drives, please visit the encryption page.

Can an encrypted tape cartridge be inserted into a drive that does not encrypt or decrypt?

No, the non-encrypting/decrypting drive automatically ejects these cartridges.

Can an encrypted LTO Ultrium cartridge be used in an early-generation drive (i.e. LTO-3, LTO-2 or LTO-1)?

No. Earlier generation drives are designed to reject higher generation cartridges.

Can encrypted (Gen. 4 or later) drives encrypt earlier (LTO-3, LTO-2, LTO-1) cartridges?

No. However, Gen. 4 or later drives can encrypt any Gen. 4 or later cartridges.

Does encryption adversely affect drive performance?

No. Typically, hardware encryption affects less than one-percent of tape drive performance. LTO-encrypting tape drives use GCM for encryption/authentication, which achieves high performance. Each individual tape drive vendor selects its own specific GCM implementation.

Is the whole cartridge encrypted, or are only certain records/files encrypted?

The LTO specifications do not limit this capability. Depending on the key management system and application, both encrypted and unencrypted records may be stored on the same cartridge. Typically, the whole cartridge is encrypted.

What is LTFS?

The Linear Tape File System (LTFS) allows users to view and access tape files just like disk or other removable media files. The LTO partitioning feature (starting with LTO generation 5) separates tape into two partitions, one acting as an index of content on the tape and the other storing the actual data. With LTFS, users are able to access files through any operating system, sort and save data easily.

What are the benefits of LTFS?

Potential user benefits include:

• Faster access to data, and easier tape file updates with simple
    drag-and-drop functionality

Non-proprietary data format file system
Self-describing tape with no application dependencies address long 
    term archive strategies

Increased data sharing and use across platforms

Which operating systems does the LTFS support?

LTFS is supported on the following operating systems:

Linux (List Versions)
Mac (List Versions)
Microsoft Windows (List Versions)
How do you obtain the LTFS software?
To download LTFS and OS platform support for standalone LTO Ultrium tape drives, you can visit the website of your chosen vendor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM or Quantum.

LTO-9 Media Initialization

What is Media Initialization?

Media initialization has been implemented in LTO-9 technology to optimize data placement to each LTO-9 cartridge characteristics. Like other common storage devices, each new LTO-9 cartridge requires a one-time initialization prior to commencing read/write operations. LTO-9 media initialization enhances LTO tape long-term media durability.

Why does the LTO-9 media require to be initialized before it can be used?

The increased number of tracks used to write data on tape requires greater precision. This initial calibration enables the tape drive’s intelligent alignment to optimize data placement.

Will LTO-8 media require initialization on first load to an LTO-9 tape drive?

No. Media initialization is required for initial use of a new LTO-9 cartridge.

How much time does the initialization add to the first-time load of a brand new cartridge?

Media optimization averages 20 minutes per first load of a cartridge to a tape drive. Although most optimizations will complete within 30 minutes, some optimization may take up to 2 hours. For additional details, please contact your tape drive provider

Does Media Initialization need to be performed in destination site?

Due to environmental requirements, that initialization should be performed in the final installation destination where the drives and media are to be used to ensure optimized acclimation.

Can the customer disable Media Initialization?

No, the one-time initialization cannot be disabled. In order for the tape to perform, it must be initialized before first use. No further initialization for that cartridge is required.

Once an LTO-9 piece of media has been initialized in a drive, does it need to be re-initialized when it is moved to a separate drive, separate library, separate data center or environment?

No. The initialization process is only required on the first load of a new and unused LTO-9 cartridge, subsequent loads do not require initialization.