Is LTO still the best option for archiving?

Hi everyone,

I’m having to set up my LTO archiving system on a new box, and I’m reminded of how archaic, cumbersome and slow (not to mention noisy) this process is. In 2022 is this really still the best option for secure storage? Ironically, with all the time and frustration spent with this method over the years, I’ve still yet to have to go back to an old tape archive to bring back in a project. Of course as soon as I stop, the need will suddenly arise.


just depends really, but the cost of LTO system didn’t make any sense to me, I tend to archive to my NAS keep that for about two months then compress it using keka which more than halves the file size then throw it on cloud storage to keep for a year then toss it after that, for cloud I have used a mixture of wasabi and dropbox , I have the business unlimited dropbox so space isn’t an issue.


Where are we at with LT0’s? LT09 is the latest now right?

We have an old LT05 system which could really do with an update but I heard that they weren’t backward compatible.

Thanks for this. I’ll look into similar. This 1950’s era tape system needs to go the way of the Dodo.

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They are backward compatible for 2 versions, so an LTO 7 will read 5 and 6 tapes.

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Actually, I believe Lto-7 is the last to do that…8 and above will only read one version earlier.


Yea I can’t deal with the extra hardware and cables that go along with those things anymore and for the cost its much cheaper to just go cloud. I would say my favorite is dropbox, wasabi is clearly cheaper but if the upload hiccups or has any lapses in it it fails and you have to start over again, dropbox is pretty amazing with its sync capabilities and I use it plenty for jobs so I tend to just throw them to upload at night and just let it run. Its not the quickest but I figure if someone wants to revise a job after three months they can wait 24 hours or so to bring it back


Good to know . . .

I still like LTO, but there could be a case made to just use cheap 8TB Archive HDDs, yea they will maybe not last as long, and will be more expensive in the long run (maybe)…

Cloud prices just dont make sense to me for archiving, I am not going to pay each month my terabytes of client data sits around on some cloud storage thing, 8TB Archives at wasabi would be 575$ a Year… lets say vs harddrives for a 3 year retention span, 3 years should be no problem for HDDs.

8TB Archive HDD = $200 you do want 2 separate copies in 2 different places though so $400.
8TB Wasabi = $575/Yea, at 3 years thats a cold hard $1725.

LTO is only worth it if you have way more Data …
Lets say you go with a dual Drive config from MLogic, LTO 8 mRack LTO-8 thats $5,699.00

1 Tape holds 12TB and costs like $70 , so lets say you need 2 again so $140.

So break even for LTO vs HDD is like 300TB of data… (150Tb if you do 2 copies each) considerably less if you only get one drive but having 2 is very convenient. Not considering the future price drops/increases just current pricing.

So if you write more than 300TB in 5 years I would call LTO a winner personally.

The thing with longevity of LTO tapes is kinda great but then how would you read a LTO 8 tape in 30 years? :smiley:


These are all really good insights. I’m a tiny outfit so definitely don’t have such high data weight. I’m not seeing a worthwhile benefit of continuing with LTO. Finn, your approach seems like the right one for me. Particularly since I still can’t get a fiber connection in my area. My DL speed is about 950 mb/s, but a paltry 40 up. So doing cloud would be painful from here. Redundant SSDs I think are the way to go.

Thanks everyone.

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If I were in your shoes, I’d charge every client a $1000 surcharge on every job for archiving. In the contract/terms I’d stipulate that this archive would last 12 months. After 12 months they can renew their agreement with you to store their project for another year for another $1,000. If not, it gets deleted.

If they won’t agree to the $1000, then charge them $500 at the end of every project to copy your data to a drive they provide and they cover shipping.


SSDs that arent connected suffer from bit-rot and stuff, they can loose data pretty quickly and die. would for sure go with HDDs for archival.

Yeah - I meant HDD. Thanks Finn.

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one good advice is to just connect the backup harddrives once in a while or rotate them, hdds sitting doing nothing arent good either.

At my old company I build a crazy usb-hub-kraken with all the backup drives connected that I would just turn on every month or so over a whole weekend just too keep things lubricated and nice (there is more stuff that HDDs do to fight bit-rot e.t.c) .

Also cool is to buy a used storage server with MANY SATA drive bays and just use this as a archival NAS that you can just turn on/off :slight_smile:

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Do not do this. Unpowered spinning hard drives left on the shelf will have their heads eventually stick to the platters. I think it took 3 years to finally bite us, but the data recovery bill for that one was $10K. We’re an LTO house now.


How about if I keep it powered?

dont want to have them be on all the time either and that would waste a lot of money in power.

dropbox unlimited data is 720 a year for as much storage as you need, HDD are clearly always going to be cheaper and I used to do that but then those started filling up and keeping multiple copies was a drag, I guess I like the lazy upload and don’t have to think about it dropbox way since the chance dropbox failing is a lot less then any of the other methods so the extra cost difference was worth it to me. I also added I only keep it for a year not really three years if the client wants it that long they can either pay for it or store it themselves.

unlimited doesnt mean unlimited, they closed my account due to “abuse” :rofl:

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Thanks. For those relying on cloud backups, what kind of upload speeds do you have? I still can’t get fier here, so I have 1gig down but 40 mbs up.

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