LTO options that don't suck

I’m unfortunately approaching the need to start thinking about LTO.

I’d prefer a single or MAYBE a dual loader rack-mounted LTO administered via Mac and Thunderbolt, but I would settle for a non-rack single loader with TB3.

What’s the metadata/library/searchability these days that doesn’t suck/cost an arm and a leg for licensing?

Is there ever a world where any of y’all would wanna rent it for a week or two a quarter if I put one on a Pelican case and ship it around the US?

Unless you have some contractual requirements then ignore LTO.
Consider S3 and glacier or similar.
Tiered storage, including the dark art of file stubbing is better served with different technologies, and unsurprisingly, is more cost efficient than LTO.

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The other benefit of cloud storage is that you can charge your clients for the maintenance of that data, and eventually either offload it to them, or delete it when they don’t want to pay for the upkeep.

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I use quantum LT09 desktop with yoyotta some options here : scroll down

I went with sas, atto card in a sonnet thunderbolt enclosure, and Macmini. Good enough for me.


Never used it, but Canister from Hedge seems really good. I had a small email exchange with them, and they were prompt, and quality response.

In terms of purchasing hardware, Backupworks guys are very solid dudes, and have the best pricing since they do such high volume.

In regards to cloud, have you heard the story of the Australian retirement fund, that google delete there whole account, and then their backup account, and the only reason why they were saved was the sysadmin had a backup to the backup with a completely different provider?

If you truly care about your data, 3-2-1 rule.



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So on the software side - if you want more sophisticated YoYotta is good. But if you just want simple, Canister is the way to go.

I’ve tried a fair amount, found YoYotta had to many features meant for people that archive and re-conform of on-set camera archives, vs. storing work. Things like restoring only what an AAF file references, trimming media, etc. YoYotta has good search functions though and keeps a full TOC of your backups.

Canister is much simpler, cheaper, and is essentially drag-and-drop archiving to LTO. Plus the Hedge folks make great software all around and are very helpful. Alex replies to my emails fast and super helpful. Also met in person at NAB finally.

Canister has limited TOC and search functions. I solve that by keeping a Google Sheet which tells me which job is on which tape, and then from there I can find any file I need. A bit simplistic, but good enough and much cheaper. Depends a bit if with search you just need to find something within a given job, or if you’re looking for a saved Flame setup or specific shot across your entire archive.

Whatever software you pick, use on that is based on LTFS, not a proprietary format. YoYotta and Canister are both LTFS based.

On the drive front - OWC Mercury Pro is what I have. Works great on Mac with TB3 interface. However, I’ve heard that the MLogic drive may be a more popular choice among many, and is recommended by Hedge. OWC support can be hit or miss, and I feel sometimes they cut corners on the design.

While LTO9 is out now, I might consider staying with 8. The media is now cheaper, and I think 9 is the first drive which requires some specific calibration. They are required to write back one generation and read back two generations.

You can probably find a rack mount version. I would forgo the loader (library part). It’s a lot of expense, and not sure you really get that much out of it. It would have to be a library that can hold your entire tape inventory (16+ tapes) and you would need remote access to all of it regularly to make that worth it.

Happy to jump on a call and talk through the trade-offs. I have an affinity for LTO, having actually worked on the original HP drives.

PS: Regarding the renting - I’m not sure that is practical. You archive so that you can get to files in a pinch. So you need to have that drive around when that day comes you need something back from tape urgently. Happens to me about once a quarter, but then I usually need it that same day.

PS2: On the cloud vs. tape option - yes, if you work with tiered glacier storage, you essentially end up with LTO in the cloud. And the cost becomes more reasonable. That being said, the cost is still higher (and ongoing) vs. one time cost of hardware and tapes. Plus you eat up a lot of bandwidth uploading. LTO is really good at dumping just gobs of data that you don’t want to bother putting into the cloud. Also, when you need to restore Glacier data, there are time SLAs, it’s not instantaneous. Things can go wrong (as in the case Alan referenced). So I think on-prem LTO has a leg up. But you are on-prem, with all that this means. Also means you are responsible for copying data forward as drive generations roll over. Have to do it every ~5 years.


Yes, the Australian Pension fund disappearance is truly unusual, and deeply suspicious on a number of levels.
$125 billion in care and all records vanishing, except for a surprise ‘backup’ in another cloud provider.
Even $1 billion would generate a legal paper landfill that most humans would never surface from.

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From what I read it was a series of events that lead to a configuration error during deployment. Script corner case :slight_smile: As with any major errors, mind the swiss cheese model.



Canister is amazing. All lto’s scanned as folder/files and after finding it in finder it’s just 2 clicks to restore this +loading tape


People have gone to jail for less…
Sorry, not jail, prison.
The litigants will receive their lost investments and this particular company still has several billion in unclaimed profit - miraculous…

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I’ve been really loving canister from hedge.
We switched from Argest (Previous called Bru) and it is so much for simplified for our LTO needs.
Just about as simple as copying to a hard drive and it keeps a catalog of of your archives for searching via MacOS finder.

The OWC archive pro that @allklier mentioned is the device we use with it. Simple thunderbolt connection.

I used BRU for years but migrated to Canister as well; super easy to use and no complaints so far. Along with Canister’s built in cataloging, I also use Neofinder to take a snapshot of the project before I archive it for easy reference.

Currently have a Quantum desktop/external drive…it’s worked fine for years but my one complaint is that it’s freaking loud. The two prior HP versions I had were much quieter.

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I use YoYotta and an LTO8. As a single seat user I find it excellent. It’s easy to use and its mounts an LTO like a hard drive. It gets complicated when you have multiple users with different requirements, but for me alone, it’s ideal. Each tape is 12 tb. I actually back up multiple jobs on a single tape and do it twice for redundancy. Previously, I felt uncomfortable using a tape for more than one job, but with the ease of making a redundant tape, and the 12tb size, I’m comfortable with it.
And I may be in the minority, but I miss being able to archive to LTO directly from flame.

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I suppose for less than $6k I can upgrade all 30 bays in my synologys to 20TB.

I’m currently at

12x8TB primary NAS - hourly snapshots

12x8TB secondary NAS - receives hourly snapshots nightly of the primary NAS

4x20TB RAID 5 offsite, receives nightly bare metal backup of primary NAS

Within 12-18 months I contact clients to see if they want it. If they do I’ll send it to em. If not, I delete it.

Ya’ll do the same?

the power of LTO is that you can get 18TB in a 4x4x1 square sitting on your shelf using no power, and minimal possibility of corruption, for less than $100.


But it’s $5k-$6k to get to that $100.

Depending on the size of your projects, you can get LTO 7 drives much cheaper. You could even get the SAS drives cheap, and then just buy a $200 thunderbolt-PCI enclosure and throw a cheap SAS HBA in there, to make it Mac friendly.


That’s everyone’s mental model. However, if you do the math the cut-over point where LTO 8 becomes cheaper at current prices is 320TB. By the time you hit 750TB LTO is half the price.

At 12x8TB (without redundancy) you get 96TB, so if that is all you ever care about, then yes your NAS upgrade is cheaper. If you configure your NAS in any RAID level the math changes a bit. Also this is naked drives, doesn’t count price of your NAS enclosure.

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Just depends on your use case and goals. The one advantage that tape has is that it’s tamper proof. Data that is not powered and not connected cannot be messed with by malware and ransomware. Or more likely deleted by a NAS upgrade gone wrong (see Australian disaster).

At the moment I have 250TB of files on my LTO tapes, and then another 64TB on older naked HDD on the shelf for archiving.

In terms of hot/online storage - I have 136TB in attached storage (mostly RAID 5 - that is effective capacity, not underlying drives), and 66TB in NAS storage (some RAID 5, some RAID 1, some RAID 0 - again effective), and just over 20TB on an Avid Nexis.

In terms of cloud - 2 LucidLink file spaces with a few TB for offsite storage of critical files including current jobs, 2TB on Dropbox, 10TB on G-Drive, and a few TB on AWS S3. The LucidStorage is with Wasabi.

That’s split between 4 active workstations plus a few laptops and two of us working. I tend to keep about 10-15 current/recent jobs online, and then dump everything to tape once the job is completed (single copy, no redundnacy once its on tape). As mentioned before about once or twice a quarter we need to get back to files from an older job, because we do a follow-up and need old project files, or footage.

Some clients give us remote access to their storage spaces and we upload archive data to their storage after project completion.

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