We sell and support most tape drives – if  your tape drive type is not here please contact us directly, we will be able to help you.

Digital magnetic tape has been recording, preserving and protecting data for over 60 years. Throughout this time it has constantly evolved to meet the core needs of business and currently combines its undeniable superiority in long term data retention (in excess of 30 years) with its lower cost per GB, lower operating cost and lower energy cost than other data storage options.

Over this time various tape cartridge technologies have battled for technology and market supremacy. From the 120MB at 0.1MB/s SLR through Travan, DDS, DLT, AIT, VXA technologies to 6TB (native) at 300MB/s LTO7 and enterprise solutions beyond.

In 1998 Certance (now Quantum), IBM and HP set out to create an “open format” so that users would have multiple sources of hardware and media. Their aim was to create a best-of-breed tape technology and Linear Tape-Open (LTO) was born. LTO has since become THE format of choice for all but a few data tape applications. A development roadmap culminating in generation 10 with an expected cartridge compressed capacity of 120TB and 2750MB/s LTO looks set to remain the tape technology of choice.

Current LTO generations include;

LTO8 launched in November 2017 with native capacity of 12TB (30TB compressed) and a data transfer rate of 360 MB/s (900MB/s with compression). An LTO8 drive will read and write both LTO8 and LTO7 media only. 

LTO7 launched in December 2015 with native capacity of 6TB (15TB compressed) and a data transfer rate of 300 MB/s (750MB/s with compression). An LTO7 drive will read and write to LTO7 and LTO6 media and read only LTO5. 

LTO6 launched in 2012 with native capacity of 2.5 TB (6.25TB compressed) and a data transfer rate of 160 MB/s (400MB/s with compression). An LTO6 drive will read and write both LTO6 and LTO5 media and read only LTO4. 

The first LTO5 tape drives appeared on the market in 2010 with a nearly doubled native capacity to 1.5 TB (3TB compressed) and an increased data transfer rate to maximum 140 MB/s (290MB/s with compression). LTO5 is the first LTO generation to support media partitioning to enable functions like LTFS, making tape as simple to use as a USB key. An LTO5 drive will read and write both LTO5 and LTO4 media and read only LTO3.        

The Ultrium LTO4 technology offers up to 800GB native capacity (1.6TB compressed) with a transfer rate up to 120 MB/s (240MB/s with compression). LTO4 is the first LTO generation to support AES 256-Bit encryption for data security. An LTO4 drive will read and write both LTO4 and LTO3 media and read only LTO2.


All current LTO tape drive generations offer the following;

• “Open format” technology ensuring vendor neutrality.
• Support for AES 256-Bit encryption.
• Support write-once-read-many (WORM) media for data retention compliance.
• Available in Internal (server mount) or External (desk top) configuration.
• Available in 5.25 inch half height (HH) and 5.25 inch full height (FH) form factors.

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 Click here to see a comparison of LTO tape drive specifications.

Connectivity options

As tape technologies have developed so has the connection interface. For current LTO stand-alone tape drive generations this has been consolidated to the following;

Ultra-320 SCSI. This interface has been superseded by SAS and is only available with LTO4 or earlier generation tape drives
SAS. The only interface offered by the tape drive manufactures for LTO5 and LTO6 and an option for selected earlier generation LTO technologies.
Thunderbolt. With LTFS demand driving LTO applications this has driven demand for Thunderbolt connectivity. Specialist company mLogic has created an integrated Thunderbolt/LTO6 device called mTape. ATTO also offer a Thunderbolt/SAS device for SAS LTO drive connection.
USB3.0. With LTFS demand driving LTO applications this has driven demand for USB connectivity. Specialist company UNITEX has created a range of integrated USB3.0 connected, and Hybrid USB/SAS, LTO5 and LTO6 tape drives.

Linear Tape File System (LTFS)

While tape has been well supported by specialist backup/archive software providers it has often been accused of being complex to use and only able to be read by a vendor specific configuration. LFTS is the game changer. LTFS is an open standard format which is supported by all tape drive manufacturers adhering to the LTO Ultrium standard since LTO-5. All this means any user familiar with their operating system file management process can utilise LTFS to seamlessly manage files on LTO tape similar to the way they would manage a USB connected storage device. File transfer is as easy as Copy & Paste, Drag & Drop.

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Purchasing Options

We sell and suppport most tape drive types. Talk to us about purchasing options now:

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