LTFS Linear Tape File System

Linear Tape File System – LTFS

Linear Tape File System (LTFS) was developed by IBM and used for the first time with LTO-5 drives. The Linear Tape File System allows LTO tapes to act as if they are hard disks on which you can create files and folders.  This open storage LTFS solution provides complete data interchange capabilities without the need of backup software or device drivers to read LTFS generated tapes. Users can run any application designed for disk files against tape data without concern for the fact that the data is physically stored on tape.

How does LTFS work?

LTFS Linear Tape File SystemEach LTFS tape incorporates the IBM Linear Tape File System™ this format is the standard for reading, writing and exchanging descriptive metadata on certified tape cartridges.  The metadata of each cartridge once mounted, is cached in server memory. Metadata operations, such as browse directory and filename search, do not require tape movement.  The Linear Tape File System provides a software solution—IBM Linear Tape File System Storage Manager—to manage and monitor archive and restore files. This software solution provides storage lifecycle management of multimedia files to reduce the cost of digital content archive software licensing while also reducing video tape cartridge costs.

Two LTFS editions

The standalone drive edition adds support for IBM tape automation in addition to the single drive-use. The Library Drive Edition allows access to all of the data in a tape library as if it were on disk. Both editions use the file system’s format and resources of the operating system (OS) on which it is running to graphically display the contents of a tape library in the OS’s graphical user interface (GUI) format, typically a folder/tree structure.

Uses for the Linear Tape File System

For years the issue of data interchange relied on both companies having the same backup software and version to read tapes.  Once these tapes were loaded they then needed to be indexed and once this task was finished the backup could be restored to the location.  With LTFS the files that have been backed up can be edited “on the fly” once the tape has been mounted.

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