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  • LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

    Hello

    I have been trying to determine what the life expectancy of our LTO 3 tapes should be.

    When I say life expectancy, I don't mean that data is written to the tape and then never touched again. I mean how many passes can the tape reasonably take before errors are likely to appear due to wear and tear.

    I have read varying reports. A Maxell document said an LTO 3 would survive at least 250 full backups, and yet some forum posts regard thousands of passes as normal (for ultrium 4).

    I understand that unless you have been monitoring usage you are unlikely to know how often the tapes have been used. I was wondering if anyone has the figures.

    My daily tapes are now at more than 100 passes.

    I have needed to restore data about 5 times since we started using these tapes about two years ago and have never had any issues with that, but I don't want to be in a situation where data retrieval is not possible because the tape has been over-used.

    Anyone have any real-world experiences they would like to share, please?

    Thanks!
    A recent poll suggests that 6 out of 7 dwarfs are not happy

  • #2
    Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

    Wish I could, but there's little consistency IME to the lifespan you get, even with the same brand of drive and tapes across multiple customers.

    We generally supply HP drives and tapes, and at least 2 years with usage once a week is normal so ~100 passes. However far more or far less is not uncommon before there's degredation. Seems to depend greatly on ambient conditions (Dust and Humidity being the major ones).

    Some of our more paranoid customers change tapes every two years as a matter of course though.
    BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
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    • #3
      Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

      Thanks a lot.

      Our tapes will spend 24hrs in the drive (I change the tape first thing the morning before anyone arrives at the office because access to the server is not guaranteed through the day), and the tape that was removed goes in my bag and then to my home. Temperature variation is minimal. I cycle to work, so during winter the inside of my panniers should not go below 1c and during summer it should not go over 28c. The room in which the servers are located has a fairly constant temperature (warm ).

      I think I may replace them. Better to be safe than sorry.

      Anyone else have any thoughts/comments about this?

      Cheers!
      A recent poll suggests that 6 out of 7 dwarfs are not happy

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      • #4
        Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

        We usually try and replace ours when they reach 24 months old.

        IIRC the old DAT tapes used to average around 52 passes lol.

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        • #5
          Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

          Yes - we used to use DAT tapes (72GB) and we used to do the same. I was hoping that the Ultriums might be more resilient

          Thanks.
          A recent poll suggests that 6 out of 7 dwarfs are not happy

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          • #6
            Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

            I actually prefer to move away from backup to tape where possible.
            Marcel
            Technical Consultant
            Netherlands
            http://www.phetios.com
            http://blog.nessus.nl

            MCITP(EA, SA), MCSA/E 2003:Security, CCNA, SNAF, DCUCI, CCSA/E/E+ (R60), VCP4/5, NCDA, NCIE - SAN, NCIE - BR, EMCPE
            "No matter how secure, there is always the human factor."

            "Enjoy life today, tomorrow may never come."
            "If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill"

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            • #7
              Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

              Originally posted by Dumber View Post
              I actually prefer to move away from backup to tape where possible.
              If we could afford it I'd backup to removable disks and also employ an online backup strategy.
              A recent poll suggests that 6 out of 7 dwarfs are not happy

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              • #8
                Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

                Costs is one of the major issues and tape might still cheaper then backup to disk. However sometimes there are certain possible business cases to change the strategy.

                Tapes needs a regular test. Depending on your schedule you might want to create a monthly test schedule to test certain tapes.

                Tapes isn't just all about the number of passes. There are multiple factors why a tape can be broken including ideal temperatures, moisture etc.. Depending on your tape supplier (Maxwell?) I would follow there best practices to replace them.
                Marcel
                Technical Consultant
                Netherlands
                http://www.phetios.com
                http://blog.nessus.nl

                MCITP(EA, SA), MCSA/E 2003:Security, CCNA, SNAF, DCUCI, CCSA/E/E+ (R60), VCP4/5, NCDA, NCIE - SAN, NCIE - BR, EMCPE
                "No matter how secure, there is always the human factor."

                "Enjoy life today, tomorrow may never come."
                "If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

                  Sorry off topic

                  Marcel,

                  Are you saying you don't test your backup to disks??

                  I would have thought that regardless of the backup medium that you would have to test the actual backups for restoration.

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                  • #10
                    Re: LTO Ultrium 3 life expectancy

                    Ok, going off topic then; Hey I'm not a system administrator so I don't have backups

                    But of course you should test your backups on a regular base. However I'm not talking about USB drives but about a separate storage system (NetApp, EMC (datadomain?), whatever) and replicate the data or backup to this location using NDMP or Backup Exec or your other favorite software.

                    With every software piece, there is a change it fails, so monitoring your backup is still as important as you would do with tapes.
                    theoretically, tapes are more fragile then a SAN or a NAS. I've seen it where tapes where needed for a restoration, the backups all went fine, but the tapes where dead when the customer needed it. That sucks when you think about it. You know your backups where fine. But your tapes are dead when needed.

                    Therefore I think that a RAID-6 environment or a RAID-5 with hot spares would be more trustworthy then a tape itself.

                    I'm not talking about testing your backups which is IMHO still key, but I'm talking about testing your physical media. Are you for example certain your tapes are still ok? Tapes will warn out eventually.
                    What if you need to keep your backups at least for let's say 10 years. Do you wind and rewind your tapes on a regular base? Do you need to do this with a disk based solution?
                    Do you test your 10 year old tape backups on a regular base as well? When it's on disk based solution and you tested it, you know its alright due to parity. Sure, you might test it sometime later if you feel you should. But with todays disk scrubbing and partity, hot spares, HA and really fast mechanisms I think I'm more in favor for such a solution.

                    But as a disclaimer; I'm not the guy shooting on every backup strategy or method. I've used tapes for a long long time. I'm just opting that there are multiple ways to do the backups, depending on budgets of course
                    Marcel
                    Technical Consultant
                    Netherlands
                    http://www.phetios.com
                    http://blog.nessus.nl

                    MCITP(EA, SA), MCSA/E 2003:Security, CCNA, SNAF, DCUCI, CCSA/E/E+ (R60), VCP4/5, NCDA, NCIE - SAN, NCIE - BR, EMCPE
                    "No matter how secure, there is always the human factor."

                    "Enjoy life today, tomorrow may never come."
                    "If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill"

                    Comment

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