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My home storage consumption has grown considerably over the past few years due to use of a higher resolution camera, and most recently a highdef camcorder.

I've been using a ReadyNas Duo with 1 TB drives, but I'm already out of space. I have a lot of older stuff that could really be written off to tape to free up the ReadyNas for other stuff, but I'm not sure if there is an affordable tape solution out there for the home user.

The solution would preferably work well with Linux, as that's my primary OS. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated!

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closed as off topic by random Jul 25 '11 at 19:19

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Why not simply get another 1TiB drive or more? – Bobby Jul 6 '10 at 17:57
It only supports 2 drives, so that'd mean simply throwing away the existing terabyte drives I've purchased. Also, I think tape would be more reliable to put in a safety deposit box somewhere... – jbwiv Jul 6 '10 at 18:49
up vote 9 down vote accepted

I used to have a tape drive, but gave it up after the hard drive capacity explosion made having a tape drive not worthwhile.

Tapes are actually pretty fragile, and I had significant problems reading 6-12 month old tapes - and make sure you keep the tape drive around!

If I was going to archive something over the long term, I'd be inclined to use archive-quality CDs or Blu-Ray disks; it's fairly likely that you'll be able to get a working CD drive 10+ years from now, and reasonably unlikely that your tape drive will still both work and be able to connect to your future machine.

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Good suggestion. I'm concerned about cd rot though...can this affect blurays? – jbwiv Jul 6 '10 at 18:50
Optical media are affected by the environment. You write them using coherent light (lasers), but they will degrade over time, and you need to protect their surfaces from scratches and radiation (heat and light) to maximize their life. On the other hand, what does it cost you if you lose a few pictures? – Slartibartfast Jul 7 '10 at 2:26
You can get archival-quality blu-ray disks from Delkin Digital; they claim a 200 year lifespan for data. – Eric Brown Jul 7 '10 at 6:35
Wow, blu-rays have lived that long already? :P (just messing with ya, I always get a little kick out of these tests claiming they're future-proof past the existance of the medium). – bigp Feb 7 '14 at 15:02

If you are set on tapes, the standard tape system I'm aware of is LTO. You can get LTO2, which is 3 generations back (currently on LTO5), for pretty cheap ($400/drive, $25/200G(raw) tape). I've worked with this and had pretty good experience (no data loss due to tapes).

It is pretty long lived, you can read LTO2 tapes on an LTO3 drive (next generation reads previous generation, typically) if you decide you want more capacity (capacity doubles pretty much each generation), etc. Having just looked up the prices for the first time in a while, I'm seriously considering going that route myself.

Also it typically uses a SCSI interface, and SCSI is pretty standard (if a bit old). SAS is based on SCSI (Serial Attached SCSI) and will probably SCSI in the long run. The big pain will be to make sure you get a SCSI card that matches. I strongly suspect that whatever OS you have, the tape drive will be supported.

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isn't 25$ for 200GB sort of expensive? a large array of cheap HDD's should be near this price range, and quite a lot more accessible (no swapping tapes to get to data) – JoséNunoFerreira Jun 16 '11 at 14:15

It would be less expensive to just get more hdd's, even if you put the old data on the hdd then place the hdd ona shelf somewhere.

Tape drives are very expensive and so are tapes, then you need to store the tapes safely to make sure they don't get erased/destroyed.

For example, Western Digital Green drives are very inexpensive and yet reliable and don't consume much electricity.

Tape drives typically require something like SAS, SCSI or Fibre Channel.

You can always build yourself a cheap NAS box, makes a great free product for this, it runs on almost anything, can boot off of a USB stick, so you can get a cheap board, cpu, ram, usb stick and say 4x 1TB green drives and have a 3 TB raid 5 NAS box for well under 500$.

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My concern is that tapes are more reliable and less risky to store than HDs, so I could technically place one in a safety deposit box and be comfortable that it will be safe. Regarding, I'd consider it, but I really like the low power footprint the ReadyNas has. Are you aware of a pre-packaged low power machine that freenas will work well with? – jbwiv Jul 6 '10 at 18:20

I don't personally like tape drives because the standards come and go pretty quickly, and if you can't get exactly the right drive, then the fact that the tape is good is no help at all.

If I were going to do what you propose, I'd either go with DVDs (and a plan to copy them to new DVDs every couple of years, because those things do NOT last forever), OR an archival DVD system (The folks at Millenniata make some pretty interesting claims for their product, but it's darned expensive).

Really, I'd probably just buy more HDs for the ReadyNAS (if possible), or another similar box. Figuring out how to back that mess up is a separate issue.

You could also look into on-line options (something like DropBox), but that would entail on-going fees, so it might not be the best solution.

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Echoing everyone else, the days of mag-tape are fast fading for most uses. There isn't anything special about freenas, it is just stripped down are are any number of distributions. As you aren't particularly concerned about speed (since you'd be willing to use magtape) the Pentium that your neighbor is selling for $27 and a beer makes a fine backup machine.

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But that solution will typically bring increased power consumption. The readynas only pulls 28-40 watts. – jbwiv Jul 6 '10 at 19:08
You might be a little out of touch with the 'mag-tape' world. LTO5 is 1.5TB and streams at 140MB/s while remaining robust to being knocked about a bit as you take it off your premises, all for $70/1.5TB. Can you do that with your Pentium, or even a single hard drive of comparable price (SSDs are a touch more expensive than tapes) – Slartibartfast Jun 29 '11 at 6:50

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