The Linear Open Tape of LTO tape basically refers to open-source storage medium which was created by HP and IBM and Seagate Technology. Since it is open source, the users get access to many sources of storage media which are compatible with one another. Tapes may have lost popularity today compared to disks and the more recent cloud storage mediums; however they continue to be used for regular data backup because of the costs involved, their capacity and reliability.

Why is the tape still used for data backup?

With growth in the volume of data the taps turns out to be a good alternative for storing very large data volumes. So, industries which generate huge volumes of data every day, like those in entertainment, science or media may use the tape as low-cost option doe data storage. The onsite and off-site LTP tapes are great options for DR or Disaster Recovery because when a primary data center facility collapses, or if there is a ransomware attack, a company can restore its data from tape data backup. Disks may also guarantee fast data recovery but the tape has the advantage of being offline and hence, protected from viruses.

In the recent years, cloud storage has become the preferred alternative to LTO tapes for offsite backups. The cloud storage is popular because it offers the twin advantages of low costs and better network connectivity. It is possible to compare the ongoing costs of LTO storage with cloud storage costs. This will help you to decide whether it is better to shift to cloud storage or to stay with LTO tapes or use a hybrid solution that mixes both cloud and LTO storage features.

When LTO ongoing costs are compared to cloud storage costs the simple calculators can be used which will compared the hardware costs to cloud costs but these will disregard other factors like maintenance or personnel costs. However, there are also some complex models today which can consider other factors. When this calculation is done, it is seen that cloud storage works out cheaper for businesses as compared to LTO. Since you do not have very large volumes of data to store you can always come out of this tape business. Your task is now to move the data to the cloud fast.

The second option for data backup is to continue to stay with LTO. If on using the calculator it is found that cloud storage is cheaper but you are not a company that can get access to low-cost bandwidth, then you should stay with the LTO. The LTO will always work for you and there is also the benefit of having those establishing the LTO setup becoming almost indispensable. When you find that you are ready for the hybrid solution, you can move to it.

Many businesses are known to use the LTO for data backup and using the cloud for data archiving, albeit haphazardly. However, hybrid storage usually refers to any one of these situations:

     • Data hybrid where all the archives and data backup from before the cut remain stored inside the LTO. Everything else which comes after the cut gets stored in the cloud.

     • Classic hybrid where all the incremental data backups will be stored in the cloud and al the full backups or archives are in the LTO.

     • Finally, there is a Tape Hybrid where all the data of a certain type, such as employee related data, will be stored in the LTO. All customer data may be in the cloud storage. This is mainly done for convenience and sometimes for compliance reasons.

When you own a tape library, moving to the cloud may sound preposterous to you. Even when the costs may be low, the entire task seems intimidating. So, it is better to choose the hybrid model which is more manageable. The hybrid model is being used by many companies today and they start with shifting the daily incremental data to the cloud first. This helps to reduce the tape work that one must do every day. Moreover, files are also always ready in case you need these restored. When the business is happy with its cloud based backups for incremental files, it can then decide whether to move the remaining data to a cloud or not.

There will come a point when LTO tapes will need to be shifted to some other place because equipments for reading such tapes are bound to become obsolete. So, they will be unsupported and eventually will become unavailable. The transition to LTO version “X” is going to be a colossal task and requires planning in advance. So, many businesses will now find cloud storage to be more affordable than tape storage. The best option is to go for a hybrid solution as this is practically possible and the best way to cut down overall data backup costs.