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Ask Slashdot: Personal Tape Drive NAS? 268

Posted by timothy
from the can-tape-actually-be-that-fast? dept.
New submitter hey_popey writes "I would like to piggyback on a previous Ask Slashdot question. Do you know of any realistic way to use a tape drive solution at home, not as a backup, but as a regular NAS? I would like, for example, to save the torrents of my Linux distributions on it, and at the same time, play the family videos on a computer. It would seem at a first glance that the transfer rates and capacity of Linear Tape-Open (1.5TB, 280MB/s in 2010) and the functionality of LTFS would allow me to do that, but I don't know the details, or whether this would be economically viable."
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Ask Slashdot: Personal Tape Drive NAS?

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  • Nope. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sprite_tm (1094071) * on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:24AM (#40971043)

    The big disadvantage of tapes is that it has long seek times. Not 'long' as in a few times that of a hard disk, but 'long' as in: can take a full minute to do. Access of multiple files on a normal HD is done by reading a meg of the first file, then seeking to the second file and reading a meg, going back to the first file and reading a meg etc. On a tape drive, even when the seek time is only, say, 10 seconds, you'd get a total throughput of 100K/sec that way. And I'm not even talking about the havoc that using it for storage of torrent files wreaks on it: that's a random-access process if I ever saw one, and the seek times on tape would kill your bandwidth very quickly, and probably your tapes too (because of wear&tear).

    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DeathToBill (601486) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:42AM (#40971099) Journal

      I'm not sure you've got the point. Images of Linux distros are big, contiguous files that you want to access rarely and read linearly - probably just the thing to go on tape. To a certain degree, video is the same - one big file that you want to read linearly.

      Of course, the practicalities might not be so great. If you want to share the torrent back with the community, then that's a problem. So is wanting to skip around in a video.

      But I don't think the question is quite as insane as you make out.

      • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sprite_tm (1094071) * on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:57AM (#40971161)

        For playing a movie - maybe. For actually burning a torrent - fair enough... if that is the _only_ thing that happens.

        The point is that multiple accesses is going to delay the drive by a huge amount. If you want to, say, copy that Linux iso to your NAS at the same time as someone is playing a movie, the tape drive is going to have to move between the locations of the two files, which is going to wreck the access times, as I stated. Torrents are worse: you're downloading from / uploading to a bunch of other computers, all wanting to read from or write to a different location in the file. Again, this means moving between locations and the resulting huge access times.

        You may be able to alleviate the process by putting a SSD or HD as cache in between, but I'm not sure if there's off-the-shelf software to do that, and I'm not even sure if that's going to work comfortably. Besides, if you're going to put a SSD or HD in between, why not just use that?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sortius_nod (1080919)

          I only live with my partner & there's many circumstances where I'm copying to/from my server while she's watching a video & vice versa. Then there's downloading a torrent on the server while both of us are accessing it. Even if it's one person, if you're watching a movie & even refresh the directory listing your movie would stop. This is probably the worst "Ask Slashdot" I've ever seen.

          Written by someone with no grasp of technology & approved by someone with even less of a grasp on reality.

          • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by circletimessquare (444983) <<circletimessquare> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:06AM (#40971719) Homepage Journal

            "Written by someone with no grasp of technology"

            Your comment written by someone with no grasp of the history of technology. There's folks reading your words who remember reading and storing files from cassette tapes in the 1980s. Like me.

            "approved by someone with even less of a grasp on reality"

            Story approved by someone with an appreciation that the geekiest novel solutions to problems are things unimaginative people would never consider seriously until forced to, because everyone else is enthusing about how cool it is. Let your mind wander into crazy scenarios and impossible what-ifs. Or butt out. Because some people come to Slashdot for exactly this talk on just this topic of the way-out-there.

            "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway." - Andrew Tanenbaum, 1996, Computer Network

            • by Nutria (679911) on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:38AM (#40971881)

              "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway." - Andrew Tanenbaum, 1996, Computer Network

              You're missing the point that tapes are sequential devices. Forcing random access onto them plunges (a) latency and throughput, and (b) the life of the tape.

              This is a completely wrong usage for tapes.

            • Yes and there's a reason why cassettes never proved to be too popular when more practical methods became available. In the same vein, chiseling on stone tablets fell out of favor when paper came around. But like tape, there is a purpose for writing on stone, but it is used solely for specific purposes.
            • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by iamgnat (1015755) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:10AM (#40972081)

              "Written by someone with no grasp of technology"

              Your comment written by someone with no grasp of the history of technology. There's folks reading your words who remember reading and storing files from cassette tapes in the 1980s. Like me.

              I too used tape drives in the 80s, but my grass is not remotely brown enough and my glasses are not tinted nearly enough to begin to think of those as "the good old days" when thinking about storage solutions. I agree with the GP that this question was asked by someone that doesn't have any clue what the linear nature of a tape means and has never been stuck waiting on a restore of a file that happens to be at the opposite end of the tape than the current position.

              I would agree with you about "novel solutions" if the question had instead been about how to use a disk and tape combination similar to RAM/swap and age out files with low access rates to tape while keeping the most used stuff on the faster disk or something else equally "out of the box". In this case it is just someone trying to use an exceptionally wrong tool for the wrong job and there is nothing novel about it (unless we are talking about the stupidity of it).

              Also, Andrew was talking about transferring large amounts of data between sites in the days when the Internet was slow, HDDs weren't a good/stable transport method, and cross-site replication was expensive and limited in scope. He was not remotely referring to using tapes to solve an inherently random/multi access problem, so while it is still a funny quote it isn't relevant to the discussion at hand.

              • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

                by mlts (1038732) * on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:56AM (#40972483)

                I still use tapes today, and I think they would be nice for home use since I can pick up LTO-3 tapes for about $15 a pop, and LTO-5 tapes for around $42 each.

                However, if one thinks a tape can be a random access device, they need to think again. Tapes are great for making sure data is copied somewhere safely, and once the read/write switch is flipped, that the data stays safe.

                My recommendation: Keep the tape drive for backups, but go with two mirrored drives, or some other RAID configuration (other than RAID 0) to minimize the impact of a HDD failure.

                • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:11AM (#40973309) Journal

                  I still use tapes today, and I think they would be nice for home use since I can pick up LTO-3 tapes for about $15 a pop, and LTO-5 tapes for around $42 each.

                  Not really home user price. LTO-3 is 400GB, LTO-5 is 1.5TB. At that sort of capacity, a home user is unlikely to need more than a handful of tapes. With LTO-5, three tapes would be enough for most home users with fairly aggressive backup strategy: two off-site, one being rewritten. If you're only buying three tapes, the cost of the drives becomes very important. The cheapest LTO-5 drives I can find cost over $1,000. At that price, you may as well just buy three 1.5TB hard drives and save the money. Tape is only really cost effective for situations where you have a lot of tapes.

            • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by fche (36607) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:53AM (#40972437)

              "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon ..."

              And never underestimate the latency either.

            • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Funny)

              by operagost (62405) on Monday August 13, 2012 @10:30AM (#40972819) Homepage Journal
              The station wagon analogy is an amusing analogy to bring up, because if you're willing to wait for videos to stream off of tape, why not just use your station wagon to go to a video store or Redbox?
            • by the_B0fh (208483)

              Do you know how tape drives work? Jeez, you are one of those who buy things based on what's written on the box right?

              Bandwidth: Check
              Capacity: Check

              Knowing how a tape drive works and whether it is suitable to be used as a random access device or not: TL;DR

          • by iamhassi (659463)

            I only live with my partner & there's many circumstances where I'm copying to/from my server while she's watching a video & vice versa. Then there's downloading a torrent on the server while both of us are accessing it. Even if it's one person, if you're watching a movie & even refresh the directory listing your movie would stop. This is probably the worst "Ask Slashdot" I've ever seen.

            Written by someone with no grasp of technology & approved by someone with even less of a grasp on reality.

            This.

            When I read the question my first immediate thought was "how did this question ever get posted on /.?"

            It doesn't matter if a tape drive has a 1000 megabyte per second transfer rate, you can't save one file at the beginning of the tape and play another file to the end at the same time.

            Whoever wrote this and whoever approved it apparently doesn't know what a tape is. Hard drives are like CDs, you can be playing the first song and skip to the last song instantly. But tapes are tapes, if you are

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        So is wanting to skip around in a video.

        I assume you'd copy it to local disk before hitting 'play'...

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        That doesn't change the fact that with HDDs falling again it really doesn't make any sense to use tape. I've recently seen several 2Tb externals in the $100-$120 range and the difference in throughput would seem to make HDDs the obvious choice.

        If it were me I'd get a cheap NAS box and load it up with drives, probably pick up some of the refurb 1Tb Ecodrives at geeks and just go RAID 5. I've never had any trouble with their refurbs and at $65 a piece for the 1Tb you could throw 4 of them in there in RAID 5 a

      • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:16AM (#40972129)

        l

        Of course, the practicalities might not be so great. If you want to share the torrent back with the community, then that's a problem. So is wanting to skip around in a video.

        But I don't think the question is quite as insane as you make out.

        Forgetting about or not thinking about the impracticalities is the insane part. I can hammer nails with my shoe but asking on a home improvement or shoe site the best way to reinforce my shoes so I can use them to build a tree house is pretty insane.

    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:28AM (#40971249) Homepage

      Yup a lot of people don't remember linear access. and a minute or two? I remember a 15 minute seek and load time when restoring a file from the end of an archive tape.

      In fact it's faster to download a new distro on a 7mbps DSL line than it is to find it on the tape.

      Now, I have seen with a tape robot cabinet a "infinite" hard drive. 4 hard drives for online storage, they had 4 hard drives for nearline storage, and all the tapes in the cabinet for offline storage. if you accessed the file from online and it was on tape, you would get a winpopup from the server stating that the file is in offline storage and will be spooled up for you. it then would email the person when the file was put back into nearline or online storage storage.

      back in 2002 it was how we had 22Tb of tv commercials, Tv show productions, and video footage available for the video editing suites.

    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:29AM (#40971253) Journal

      and probably your tapes too (because of wear&tear)

      the hideous, desperate seeking of a tape in this condition is informally described as 'shoe-shining'...

    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:04AM (#40971707) Homepage

      1) Fast
      2) Cheap
      3) Large capacity.

      Pick two.

    • Fatal flaw in plan pointed out on first post, well done sir.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:24AM (#40971047)

    you're not thinking this through, are you? it's a tape-drive...

  • You cannot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:24AM (#40971049)

    No. Just no.

    • by Tx (96709) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:49AM (#40971125) Journal

      Forget LTO, I recommend a massive array of Sinclair Microdrives [wikipedia.org]. I mean, if you're going for a silly and impractical tape solution, you might as well push the boat out.

      • by bluescrn (2120492)
        That's too easy... Use a big stack of Commodore 64 Datasette recorders, loaded with cheap C90 tapes! But seriously, why even try?... get a hard disk NAS - a Synology DiskStation or similar, with a terabyte or two. Job done. If you've got spare tape drives and tapes lying around, use them for occasional backups of the NAS drive.
      • Hmm, making a RAID array from punch cards would be pushing the envelope... or is that pushing the paper tape...
    • Re:You cannot (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:44AM (#40971325) Homepage
      I really don't know what the editors were thinking when they posted this. There is no constructive conversation that can come from this question. Perhaps it should be migrated to SuperUser
    • Exactly what I was thinking. Firstly, the tapes will be so slow it'll be quicker to wait for it to be on TV, secondly, the tapes will burn out from the constant seek/read/write.

      Just spend the money on a decent case, a dickload of HDD's & a decent mbd/cpu/ram combo, add a tape drive for archiving, but don't even bother using it as a live storage system.

      5 minutes of searching would give you the answer "DON'T DO IT".

  • by Captain Hook (923766) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:24AM (#40971051)
    Tape is great for reading or writing sequential data but trying to access random files would suck, which is exectly how it would access files if you are trying to access movies while writing other data to it.

    The only way I see it working would be to have a HD or SSD acting as a cache between the tape drive and the network.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:35AM (#40971083)

      I agree that a tape solution would not work well for torrent files, however using it to store movies should work well. If you wish to market it, I can suggest a name for it. You could call it a VCR. But whenever you do, do not call it Betamax, I don't think that would sell very well.

    • by fa2k (881632)

      Yeah you want some kind of hierarchical file system, where files are staged form tape to disk one by one. Can't think of anything that exposes a standard filesystem interface at the moment (nothing that would work for home use, anyway)

      • by fa2k (881632)

        Thinking more about it, the benefit of such a setup is the *massive* storage capacity that is possible with a tape robot. To get any benefit over standard drives, you have to either get a robot, or play one yourself (have the NAS send you an SMS: "please insert tape #10")

    • Did you ever play Zork on a PDP-11 running RT11 off of DEC-Tape? Rather interresting to watch the tape reels spin back an forth, but slow as shit sliding down sandpaper!

  • No. Your question has no rational purpose other than to attempt to create a corner in a circular room
    As a NAS a tape drive has three flaws--
    Cost.
    Reliability
    Software.
    Tape Drives are designed as peripherals that were either reading or writing the tape media. Read/Write is not an option--- ever heard of Seek Time?

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:35AM (#40971077) Homepage Journal

    you'd need a cache drive in front of it.

    the mb/s is ok yes, but that's for linear read/write from the tape.

    "While specifications vary somewhat between different drives, a typical LTO-3 drive will have a maximum rewind time of about 80 seconds and an average access time (from beginning of tape) of about 50 seconds.[21][dead link] Note that due to the serpentine writing, rewinding often takes less time than the maximum."

    the tape is also only good for 260 full passes.

    just buy a hd based nas, archive to tape if you really archive that much stuff. but load it on hd first for gods sake.

  • The determining factor is definitely cost. A tape loader or even just a single tape drive is pretty expensive, even when buying used and provided you have the right equipment to house it if it's not in its own enclosure. The price of media is comparable to physical drives of equal space. Honestly, it would be cheaper and less of a hassle to build a disk-based NAS.
  • Harddisk cache (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:41AM (#40971093) Homepage

    Unless you stuff a large harddisk inbetween as cache, I don't see how you can make this perform anywhere near bearable.
    Note that frequent write/delete cycles will fragment tape space like you wouldn't believe (perhaps a weekly tape reorganization job would be in order?).
    I used to work on z/OS where using tape for normal storage isn't unheard of; typically files not accessed for a while are moved to a tape robot.
    When trying accessing one of those files, it did so by writing the file back to harddisk for actual access.

  • Cost vs HDD Solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by thesandbender (911391) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:41AM (#40971095)
    The overwhelming issues with latency aside, a 1.5TB (native not compressed) LTO drive will set you back ~1800 USD and you'll need an extra ~100-150 for a SAS controller that can drive it. For that price you can by yourself 24TB of HDD storage (12 x 2TB) with enough money left over for a decent SATA/SAS RAID controller. If you setup a RAID 10 array you'll have 12TB exponentially faster access times and better data security (unless you make copies of every tape).
    • by dtdmrr (1136777) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:54AM (#40971153)
      Note that the 1800 is just for the tape drive. An 8 tape library with drive and media will be more like $4k, and that still only gets you 12TB (given the file types you mentioned, don't plan on getting any capacity boost from the LTO compression). You will have to go with one really big library before tapes win on price. Unless of course you are willing to change tapes manually, or build your own robot/library out of lego. But even then that 24TB figure is only a lower bound on the cross over.
    • On a per-petabyte basis, over a 12-year period, tape beats HDD by an order of magnitude, on both cost of media and energy:
      http://www.lto-technology.com/pdf/LTO%20TCO%20White%20Paper%20Press%20Release.pdf [lto-technology.com]

      But, it is hard to imagine an individual having any need to amass that much data.
      A rough estimate tells me that the breakeven point is somewhere north of $200k.

  • No.

    Hard drives are cheaper, easier, more useful.

  • Punch cards (Score:3, Funny)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:01AM (#40971171) Journal

    Have you considered punch cards? You can get a vintange IBM 370 for only a few hundred thousand and a warehouse to store all the punch cards for just several million. Put it in China and you can have a few servants ravage up with forklifts and storage boxes with the cards and scramble to put them in the reader and upload it back to your home media server.

    I mean who cares about using a cheap $200 external usb drive like everyone else pretending we somehow live in the 21st century ... pfft

  • HP do a LTFS which if I remember correctly treats the tape as a normal drive.

    The way to do it would be to treat it as much as an archive as possible. Too many read/writes will wear out the tape in no time at all. If all you are thinking of having is a few tapes which have old torrents of films or things you would occasionally access, there shouldn't be much of an issue beyond the obvious seek times. Be prepared to have your tapes wear out and keep a good supply of cartridges and a second drive.

    The obvious b

    • PS: A lot of people seem to have the wrong idea about how this guy intends to use it. He's not talking about seeding torrents or installing programs on a fucking tape drive.

      I think he means using it as for storing and occasionally reading old torrents or films or whatever, but instead of using a disk drive wants to use a tape drive with a disk drive like FS, so he can burn a linux CD or watch a movie from time to time. It's not a bad idea. It'll cost less than disk drives and still be reasonably durable.

      • by amorsen (7485)

        It'll cost less than disk drives and still be reasonably durable.

        That's the problem. Tapes are at best half the price of disks, and the drive is expensive. Next year disks have fallen in price, but the tapes still cost the same, and that just gets worse over time. To maintain a decent tape price it is necessary to switch standard quite often.

  • One word: Nope.

    Forget for a moment, the cost of a LTO tape drive (easily over $1500 for a decent one as it needs to be LTO5) plus a SCSI, SAS or Fibre HBA to drive it, but then even looking at the cost of the tapes, it might be, say, $50 for an 800GB tape (with seek times measured in minutes)

    Compare this to a hard drive. less than $100 for 1TB, fast seeks, decent throughput and no fancy controller, or specialised software required.

    As nice as something like LTFS sounds, it has some major limitations - you si

  • Tapes. Are. Useless. (Score:5, Informative)

    by fraxinus-tree (717851) on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:15AM (#40971209)
    They are not only useless at home. They are completely useless as a backup solution in the first place. They refuse to read in 95% of their intended usage scenarios, including, but not limited to, incompatible/failed tape drives, missing/obsolete/buggy/outright stupid software, degraded/stretched/torn off tape, mislabeled/misordered media and so on. And then again, they cost $$$$$, because PHB's keep on buying them. And they do, because they like solid-looking stacks of backups. Even if no one prescribing them in the backup plans had ever tried to restore a single file in the last 20 years. Or ever.

    Hard disks are good. They are also good for backups. They are cheap, they sell them in the shop down the street, they work 99.99% of their intended usage scenarios, do very well in every other usage scenario, and they can be easily connected to any computer, just to see what's in.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:45AM (#40971333)

      They refuse to read in 95% of their intended usage scenarios, including, but not limited to, incompatible/failed tape drives, missing/obsolete/buggy/outright stupid software, degraded/stretched/torn off tape, mislabeled/misordered media and so on. And then again, they cost $$$$$, because PHB's keep on buying them. And they do, because they like solid-looking stacks of backups. Even if no one prescribing them in the backup plans had ever tried to restore a single file in the last 20 years. Or ever.

      Being an enterprise backup engineer, I have to disagree with the bulk of this. We do thousands of tape restores every year, the tape media is extremely reliable, and modern tape is FAAAST. Nothing can do streaming database backups or restores faster than tape, particularly multithreaded - at that point, most servers and network infrastructures don't have enough throughput to keep up with the tape drives.

      Now, Joe Admin at an SMB with hand-labelled tapes (versus barcoded), poorly managed and mismatched tape drives, and poorly planned and tested emergency recovery scenarios is a problem.... but that just means that the person making the technical and purchasing decisions doesn't know how to take advantage of tape properly. If you've got mismatched tape hardware versions, tape drive firmware versions, software problems, etc - well, that's a problem of the person managing the solution. Like any other technical solution, if you're poorly trained on backup solutions, you're going to have a poor implementation. You reap what you sow.

      Disk backup has its place, certainly (and my company leverages it heavily as well), but don't write off tape as useless or a poor technical solution. If you need a database backup restored with the smallest RTO, nothing does it faster than tape.

    • by grumbel (592662)

      And then again, they cost $$$$$, because PHB's keep on buying them.

      Tapes themselves are incredible cheap, in fact they are the cheapest storage available right now beating both HDDs and DVD-Rs by costing half or a third as much. It's the drive price that is killing it and make them useless for the average consumer. That of course makes HDDs the medium of choice for backup, but it still kind of irks me that we don't have a cheap backup solution right now that keeps drive and media separate (well, DVD-R do that, but are to small to be practical).

    • by na1led (1030470)
      Tapes are not useless. They may be impractical to use as a NAS, but they are great for archiving data. We use Tape Backups at work because they are a cheap way to archive lots of data. A single tape can store 1.2 TB of data and cost only $25. We can backup a history of our data for years at minimal cost. I wouldn't use tapes as a sole means to backup critical data, but as a secondary backup or archive, it's a great investment.
  • by Ubi_NL (313657)

    RDX is much more cost-efficient for small setups and claims the same durability. Sure, the RDX disks are more expensive than tape but the drives are available for $60. And they act like HDD because that is basically what they are.

  • Consider operation. Either hire a tape operator or get yourself a tape robot. Go for IBM as it has the longest track history in saving data to tape while it still remains available as file (OK, dataset if you're picky.)

    Seriously though. This is /.. You're not supposed to know everything but you should be prepared to do some research yourself. Practically disk space is dirt cheap and you could keep all your data on it indefinitely. Tapes you should only use to backup and occasionally to restore (deleted f
  • by wisebabo (638845) on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:33AM (#40971275) Journal

    ... there used to be a product called "Desktape" made by a company called Optima Software.

    Basically it kept a cached (on the system drive) directory listing of all the files on the tape, and then made a (virtual) disk using that directory which was mounted on the desktop (hence the name). The user would perform file transfers with this "disk" in much the same way as he would a real disk, he could copy files to and from it by dragging and dropping, similarly erasing or copying over files. Note that I said file transfers; direct random access to this "disk", while possible, were strongly recommended against because the tape would seek to one block, then seek to the next etc. so, for example, launching an application from the tape was ill-advised. Anyway, when the tape was ejected, the directory would be updated on the tape.

    Still it was great because it made backing up very simple (no special utility to run) and this disk would behave just like a real disk so that you could run regular disk utilities on it like "Virtual Disk" (which kept searchable online copies of directory listings of offline volumes).

    The software was hardware agnostic which means it could work with a variety of tape drives so maybe it would work with LTO. Alas, the software only ran on pre-OS X Macintoshes and the company is long gone. I would dearly love it if someone could revive this software and make it work with a "modern" OS! Can't someone buy the IP of this company?, surely the development (patents?) is worth something. (I wish there was some sort of law saying that abandoned software like this would, after 5 years, be put in the public domain; of course for this to work the source code would have to be continually archived at, say, the Library of Congress in case of sudden bankruptcy. Not too feasible.)

  • by sirwired (27582)

    Unless your application will stream in the file as fast as possible, all the time, this won't work. The tape can only go so slow; when you go below that speed, the tape "shoeshines" which rapidly wears out both the tape and the drive.

    Tapes simply were not designed for applications like streaming.

    • by grumbel (592662)

      That would be trivial to solve by just caching the file on a HDD. Does LTFS do that?

  • by Rob_Bryerton (606093) on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:46AM (#40971335) Homepage
    Did you know you can refrigerate your food by placing it in front of your air-conditioner?
    And who needs a stove or oven? Simply wrap your food in your discarded tinfoil hats, and place it on your engine block; by the time you get to the office, breakfast will be ready.
    I've also heard you can pound nails with a screwdriver if you adjust your grip...

    As a co-worker of mine is fond of saying: "There are no stupid questions. Except for that one..."
  • About as useful as a barbecue made of ice.
  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:00AM (#40971679) Journal

    Come on now, if someone is smart enough to look up the specs for the technology they surely, surely know this is a completely ridiculous suggestion for a home environment.

    Yes the mammoth automated tape libraries exist(ed) for huge business over the last 50 years, however a home version which doesn't require user interaction for tape changes is madness, plus, depending on the OS - the system may well want to check / index / scan the files frequently. Is this person proposing using multiple drives? Seriously what's the deal here?

    I guess if it's a troll, bravo - it's stupid yet they clearly let it on the site and I as well as others are biting.
    If it's not a troll and you're legitimately asking,.... I really don't know what to say,... do you actually want a thought out response to such a ridiculous fucking question?

    Editors: you're better than this, I thought anyhow,...

    • My guess is its a young 22 year old IT guy who thinks it is cool but has not used a VCR since he was 5 and never seen a tape drive before unlike us older folks. When you read specs like 110 megs a second it gives a false impression it is just as fast.

      There are kids today who do not remember the pains of fast forwarding a song on tape for 9 fucking minutes to hear that one good song while the rest of the album is crap. That was so awesome about cds. It was not the sound quality but the fact I could skip trac

  • As everyone else, that using a collection of tapes with a single or small number of tape drives is impractical.

    Instead, I recommend reading up on hierarchical storage:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchical_storage_management/ [wikipedia.org]

    Also, if you really want a solution which does what you ask for, SamFS may be for you:

    http://www.c0t0d0s0.org/archives/4240-Less-known-Solaris-features-SamFS.html/ [c0t0d0s0.org]

    Bye,

    os10000

  • This might work if you have a tape changer as secondary storage and disk as your primary storage, and spool out little-used data to tape and restore on demand. I _think_ this is what the Removable Storage service was for in Windows 2000/2003, but I think it required additional software and may no longer be part of the OS. The idea is that if a file isn't accessed in a long time, it's replaced with a "stub" and moved to tape. If you access it, the file is pulled back from tape to disk. Of course, the tap

  • A quick google reveals that a 1.5TB LTO tape costs $40. I saw brand new 3TB seagate hard drives at MicroCenter the other day for $99.99. So, you want to store 3TB.

    You can either do it with tape, and all the problems that implies, and a rather expensive tape drive, or you can use cheap disks for $7.75 more per TB. I'd go with the disks any day of the week.

  • ...there's a fatal misunderstanding in this concept. I see a lot of posters saying "no no no, he just wants to backup his Linux ISOs and movies!" and fine, in that case, yes, a tape backup would be great. But to do any kind of regular access of that medium would just be tragic. See my filesystem explanation below to learn why.

    Furthermore, the submitter said his intent was to download torrents ON TO the tape. Torrents are NOT sequential downloads - that is, if the beginning of the file is Packet A and
  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:05AM (#40973227)

    Back in the before time, I knew a guy who ran a BBS who came about a DAT drive by some method or another. I assume he stole it from work. Anywho, that was a lot of storage back then and he wanted to use it to store files for the BBS. What he came up with was a caching system where people tagged the files they wanted, the files would be copied from tape to temp storage on the hard drive, would be downloaded by the user, then deleted from the hard drive. I had a similar system for the CD-ROM changer on my multi-line BBS. If someone on line 3 wanted file from Disc_2 and someone on line 1 wanted a file from Disc_7, the poor thing would just thrash back and forth between discs until I added the caching system.

    But it's just totally impractical today. I've got a 26tb array for my bulk storage. Even with hard drive prices still a bit inflated, it could be built for $2500 with nice drive cages. $3200 for 39tb using 3tb drives.

    An LTO 5 library is going to run you $5000 for just the drive/library. You weren't going to stand there swapping tapes by hand, were you? Another $550ish to fill it with tapes. And that's only 1.5tb gigs per cartridge. (Native capacity is what you should be using for this type of data.) 16*1.5=24tb online for around $5500. Nevermind the cost of the caching system that would be needed just to make it work in even the most crude manner with a minimum of 5 minutes between initial request and the file being available for use. More than double if it spans tapes.

    So roughly double the cost for a similar amount of storage with horrendous access times. Sounds like a plan. You should totally do it and report back.

  • when I was ten year old I would see ads for syquest drives in magazines, and dreamt of 44MB or 80MB cartridges when I had a 40MB hard disk drive (indiana jones atlantis was taking 10MB from it). same thing when we had a 486 DX/2 66 with a 120MB drive and we had to choose between doom and descent. I didn't realize at the time that a crappy backup drive wasn't meant for even DOS gaming. in retrospect it sucks that we didn't get an old hard drive too (even an old by then 80MB drive) and especially it's a shame

  • by ameoba (173803)

    Look into Plan 9 [wikipedia.org]. While it never really got off the ground commercially, it's the successor to Unix. All resources are distributed over the network & storage servers know how to manage multiple levels of storage, being able to move data from 'fast' to 'slow' as it ages.

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