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Pros and cons of LTO vendors

I'm wondering if you can illuminate me on the pros and cons of the various LTO vendors. We are looking to purchase a new LTO-2 library, and have heard that IBM's drives are a bit faster, but they they also aren't as reliable as HP's. I'm not sure at all about Certance.

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I would have to start with the ever so unpopular consultant's answer to this question: "It depends." All vendors offer similar performance, give or take a few MBps and all offer similar capacity. When you get in the 30 MBps uncompressed performance range, some of the minor performance differences lose significance. We have all heard stories about reliability issues with one vendor or the other, but when you can write over 400 GB (with compression) of data on media that has 512 tracks on 1/2 inch wide, 8.9 micron thick tape, a lot of things can go wrong. Add to that constantly changing device firmware and multiple media manufacturers, you end up with a lot of potential for issues.

That being said, I would be hard-pressed to recommend one vendor over the other simply because I believe their products are comparable in terms of performance and reliability. This leaves support and compatibility as factors left to consider in making the right choice. A review of your existing hardware environment and the backup software you are (or will be) using may impose a natural selection by elimination.

Read Doug Owens' answer to this question.

This was first published in January 2005

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