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Ask Slashdot: Personal Tape Drive NAS?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the can-tape-actually-be-that-fast? dept.

Data Storage 268

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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268 comments

Nope. (5, Informative)

Sprite_tm (1094071) | about a year and a half ago | (#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. (4, Interesting)

DeathToBill (601486) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971099)

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. (5, Insightful)

Sprite_tm (1094071) | about a year and a half ago | (#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:Nope. (3, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971463)

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. (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971719)

"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

Re:Nope. (3)

Nutria (679911) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971179)

That is true, they are big, and they are read from start to finished, but only when used in a few use cases (being transferred to another media or, in the case of movies, watched). During the actual download, bittorrents are massively random access. It would work for storage of large files, but when doing the actual bittorrent download, you can't use a tape storage. It would be doing tape seek most of the time.

Also, tape seek times would eclipse read times if you try to access two files at the same time. So forget burning a distro to a DVD and watching a movie at the same time.

Of course, a huge disk array cache in front of it might alleviate the problem a bit, but hey, it'll be exepensive.

Re:Nope. (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971213)

So is wanting to skip around in a video.

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

Re:Nope. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971517)

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 and not have to worry about it. If you are worried about refurbs they have 2Tb WD greens for $110, either way would give him plenty of space and better throughput than he'd get going tape.

But if all he is doing is downloading the distros and putting them up, why not burn them? You sure as hell wouldn't want to try to share on something like BT with a tape, too much seeking would wear out the tapes quick, so the whole thing don't really make much sense to me. Maybe he came across some tapes cheap, who knows. But with drives dropping again it really seems kinda pointless to go tape for what he's wanting to do, tape has always been a long term storage medium, not a day to day access medium.

Re:Nope. (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971249)

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. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971699)

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

and for Chuck Norris it would be faster to hack your setup and find your family videos than doing a linear seach on that tape.

Good old Chuck. Useful whenever. :)

Re:Nope. (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971253)

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'...

HSM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971373)

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

You put a big storage array in front of the tape robot. Files are spooled off to multiple tapes and deleted from the array with a stub left in place, if they haven't been used in months. The array acts as a big cache to mitigate the latency of the robot, as all caches do.

Only useful for people who can afford robots. Honestly, you don't want lots of please insert tape X again.
 

begone rational thought (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971047)

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

Re:begone rational thought (1)

Theophany (2519296) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971087)

This is primary school IT right here... Crap as those lessons where, they did teach us tape drives had limited uses.

This ain't one of them.

Re:begone rational thought (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971107)

Leave him alone! help me with my RAIF - Redundant Array of Independent Floppies

Re:begone rational thought (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971197)

I thought the "i" stood for inefficient?

Re:begone rational thought (1)

deniable (76198) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971399)

Inexpensive and those things are dirt cheap now. The drives, however, ...

Re:begone rational thought (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971603)

Inexpensive? The cheapest I can get as a consumer are € 2.89 in a 10 pack (3.5")...that's roughly a whooping € 200,- per GiB!

Re:begone rational thought (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971413)

"Inefficient floppies?"

I thought it was the array that was supposed to be redundant, not the acronym itself. ;)

You cannot (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971049)

No. Just no.

Re:You cannot (5, Funny)

Tx (96709) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971125)

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.

Re:You cannot (2)

bluescrn (2120492) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971189)

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.

Re:You cannot (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971761)

Hmm, making a RAID array from punch cards would be pushing the envelope... or is that pushing the paper tape...

Re:You cannot (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971325)

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

Re:You cannot (2)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971443)

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".

Seek Time (2)

Captain Hook (923766) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Seek Time (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Seek Time (1)

fa2k (881632) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971217)

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)

Re:Seek Time (2)

fa2k (881632) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971491)

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")

Uh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971055)

I don't know the details either, but the mechanics of a tape drive kind of suggest to me that maybe the format isn't well-suited for random reads.

Re:Uh... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971537)

There's also a possibility that doing random access will physically stretch parts of the tape. Even in normal use, that is also why it is recommended for all tape formats every now and then to FF a tape to the end and RWD it back to start, to remove tension. In UNIX there's the "mt retension" command.

Youe wanr a corner in a Circular Room? (2)

gishzida (591028) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971069)

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?

Re:Youe wanr a corner in a Circular Room? (0)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971725)

Maybe he's trying to make a digital VHS? Movies on magnetic tape, but with 6-channel sound and HD bitrates!

Never mind that tapes physically wear out, break, etc.

Re:Youe wanr a corner in a Circular Room? (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971939)

Why reinvent the wheel? JVC made Digital VHS a reality.... back in 1998! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-VHS [wikipedia.org]

I have a boxful of tapes of stuff recorded off of HBO, Showtime and Cinimax HD. HD movie storage and recording before Bluray was around.... but you have to rewind after watching.

come on! it's 2012 already... move on. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971073)

Why do you even ask this question? You are using Linux, so you are a smart enough guy to know that there are better options.
The only advantage of tape is cost/GB, but to make what you are asking to work (and at acceptable performance) you are going to waste SO MUCH of your time, which I think is more valuable to you than the few bucks you could save.

Re:come on! it's 2012 already... move on. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971287)

"The only advantage of tape is cost/GB, "

no. it's primary advantage is 80X longevity than a hard drive and produce. at least good ones do, nothing with the label "iomega" has this feature.

Re:come on! it's 2012 already... move on. (2)

Znork (31774) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971551)

LTO tapes have a durability of about 300 whole passes. Hard disks and SSD's have several orders of magnitude better durability. Note that the poster is trying to use it as active storage, not as archive material.

And frankly, even for archive material I'd trust an offline stored disk for as long as I would a tape (a 30 year stored tape reader would suffer from the same mechanical issues that a disk might after such storage). Either way, you're better off using online maintained redundant storage than hoping anything stuck in a dump'n'forget archive will actually be readable once you want to read it.

Re:come on! it's 2012 already... move on. (2)

psergiu (67614) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971575)

While the tapes themselves have a 30+ year shelf life expectancy with minimal data loss, the tape drives do not.

Five years ago, I tried backing up everything at home on a DAT72 tape drive. I have now on 24 tapes redundant backups of everything that will be even readable after i'm dead, but it's useless. After three years, one of the spindle motors of the tape drive burned out. It's not replaceable or fixable. A replacement tape drive on e-Bay (cheaper that the original price) to read back those 24 tapes of ~40Gb each costs now way more than the cost of 3.5" 1 TB sATA HDD.

Tape backup is not price-efficient for home use.

Re:come on! it's 2012 already... move on. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971777)

Uhhh...I still got old 40Gb drives at the shop, been sitting in a drawer for years...they work just fine. Hell if he's gonna be putting things he actually wants to see more than once he'd be smart to just use RAID 5 and you can buy new 2Tb drives for like $110 now.

The only time that "80X longevity" comes into play is if you've got something you want to just stuff in a safe but still be assured it can be accessed years and years from now, tax records or HIPPA records, not videos you are actually gonna want to sit down and watch with any kind of regularity and certainly not for running BT which will wear the tape drives out faster than the HDD thanks to the constant seeking.

Sorry friend but trying to use tape for what he is asking is about as smart as writing "Dear Slashdot, how do i make a car with square wheels?" because even if you pull it off its stupid, pointless, gonna wear out quicker, and for absolutely zero gains.

All I can figure is he managed to get a tape drive and a bunch of tapes cheap somewhere and now don't want to spend the money on a NAS. if that is the case the answer is simple, 1.-put tape drive and tapes on eBay, 2.-Take money from sale to buy a NAS which is actually made to do what he is fricking wanting! Sheesh.

Re:come on! it's 2012 already... move on. (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971791)

80 times the longevity? No. Really no.

Maybe 10 times, and only if the tape is sitting in a air conditioned room, not being used.

Taking a DLT and doing random access stuff will destroy the tape in a matter of weeks.

need cache drive in front (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971077)

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.

Cost and hassle (2)

starfire83 (923483) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971079)

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 (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971093)

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 (5, Informative)

thesandbender (911391) | about a year and a half ago | (#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).

Re:Cost vs HDD Solution (4, Informative)

dtdmrr (1136777) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Cost vs HDD Solution (1)

benji fr (632243) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971191)

I have a really important question here: If tape, drives and controller, enclosure etc. are so expensive, *why* are big corps still using tapes to do their backup ?

Is it that reliable? I mean... If I store a harddrive properly as I would have done with a tape, does the harddrive lose data quicker than the tape?

Why is there no "hard drive based robots" to change harddrives in an enclosure automatically as we have for LTO? It could be cheaper and as reliable isn't it?

Hope /. community will have some answer here ;)

Re:Cost vs HDD Solution (2)

guile*fr (515485) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971239)

Be cause you can get tape librairies with hundreds of tapes, tapes are cheaper than entreprises disk,
A Disk robot is not practical, think of weight and electrical connectivity

Re:Cost vs HDD Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971739)

Be cause you can get tape librairies with hundreds of tapes, tapes are cheaper than entreprises disk,
A Disk robot is not practical, think of weight and electrical connectivity

Actually, you can get libraries with capacities in the thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of tapes easily enough. Those can be fun to watch.

I'm sure it wouldn't be all that hard to build a disk robot. I find it hard to believe the weight of a 3.5" drive is really that challenging, and you could use 2.5" drives. As for the connectors, modern sas/sata connectors aren't that bad (though they probably wear out faster than a tape drive). I think the real issue is that a drive robot wouldn't be remotely competative to tapes when it comes to cost.

Re:Cost vs HDD Solution (3, Insightful)

Kvan (30429) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971285)

Several reasons:
  • Economies of scale do win out for tape once you start hitting hundreds of TBs.
  • Tapes are easy to move offsite.
  • Tapes don't consume any power when not in use.
  • Tapes are much more resilient than hard drives against environmental factors (mechanical, temperature etc.)

The last point in particular is why you don't see HDD robots: all that handling would skyrocket the hard drives' failure rate.

Re:Cost vs HDD Solution (5, Informative)

thesandbender (911391) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971311)

It's economies of scale, tape has a high cost of entry but a relatively low maintenance cost. A 1.5TB LTO 5 tape costs 40 USD. A 1.5TB drive costs 90 USD. The VM enclave I use for testing at one client has 700TB, to back up that data set with HDD would cost 23,333 USD more than tape (for just the media). That difference alone covers the cost of a tape library. And, most corporations are going to take complete backups once a week with incremental backups during the week. Which means an extra 23,333 a week (HDD vs tape). Scale this out to petabytes of data and HDD's become prohibitively expensive.

Also, one of the primary reasons to use tape is you can store them offsite for disaster recovery. You can put a box full of tapes in the back of a panel van and drive them down a bumpy gravel road without any big worries, you just can't do that with HDD's with out protective housing.

Re:Cost vs HDD Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971385)

I think tape is on its way out even as a backup medium. It is still useful as an archive medium (long term storage of inactive data) but that is somewhat different than backup.

Re:Cost vs HDD Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971541)

No, that's exactly what a backup is.

for storing petabytes, good idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971133)

Tape is an order of magnitude cheaper than disk, and always on hdd has spinning storage which adds up to a bill.

Some seem to think you want to use this as a HDD, though I'm at a loss as to why. Maybe they just want to call someone an idiot.

But the cost of the drive means you dobn't get much of a benefit until you have hundreds of tapes. Before then, your nas box using 200W is a bigger factor than twenty drives spinning. At a hundred tapes, your electric bill could be upped by 1kW continuous for hdd over tape. The drive could pay for itself over a couple of years in that case for your electric bill alone.

want massive corruption? then use LTFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971139)

I've tried LTFS and it put the tape into such a bad state that I had to return it to maxell for replacement. Don't use LTFS if you value your data.

Cache-A (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971159)

your best bet : Cache-a
http://www.cache-a.com

I've used it since 2009/2010, works very well and perfect for your need. Don't worry about the look of their website. The hardware is great.

Completely Impractical but on the plus side... (1)

Fixer40000 (1921598) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971169)

If you invest enough and build your own custom hardware you could get a reel to reel tape drive, turning your living room into a 1960s mainframe.

Add a panel of randomly blinking lights and it's a retro sci-fi extravaganza!

Punch cards (3, Funny)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971171)

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

Re:Punch cards (1)

aXi (6533) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971301)

And of course you can always manually create a new torrent file or movie by pricking in a couple of thousand punch cards.

Sensible idea if you accept the drawbacks. (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971181)

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 benefit is cost. Buy second hand. I buy second hand QICs and they are very cheap indeed, and LTO kit isn't much different.

Re:Sensible idea if you accept the drawbacks. (2)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971367)

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.

Wrong tool for the job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971187)

Seriously, you're trying to use an onion when you need a screwdriver.

Economically viable and/or practical? (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971193)

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 simply don't use it for concurrent access to two or more files, or for random access to parts of a file.

What it's really designed for is a platform and software independent way of backing up stuff to a tape using something like good ol' tar, and bypassing the requirement for any specialised software to read your backups back from the tape. What's old is new again.

Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971203)

Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care - Government & Stealth Malware

In Response To Slashdot Article: Former Pentagon Analyst: China Has Backdoors To 80% of Telecoms 87

How many rootkits does the US[2] use officially or unofficially?

How much of the free but proprietary software in the US spies on you?

Which software would that be?

Visit any of the top freeware sites in the US, count the number of thousands or millions of downloads of free but proprietary software, much of it works, again on a proprietary Operating System, with files stored or in transit.

How many free but proprietary programs have you downloaded and scanned entire hard drives, flash drives, and other media? Do you realize you are giving these types of proprietary programs complete access to all of your computer's files on the basis of faith alone?

If you are an atheist, the comparison is that you believe in code you cannot see to detect and contain malware on the basis of faith! So you do believe in something invisible to you, don't you?

I'm now going to touch on a subject most anti-malware, commercial or free, developers will DELETE on most of their forums or mailing lists:

APT malware infecting and remaining in BIOS, on PCI and AGP devices, in firmware, your router (many routers are forced to place backdoors in their firmware for their government) your NIC, and many other devices.

Where are the commercial or free anti-malware organizations and individual's products which hash and compare in the cloud and scan for malware for these vectors? If you post on mailing lists or forums of most anti-malware organizations about this threat, one of the following actions will apply: your post will be deleted and/or moved to a hard to find or 'deleted/junk posts' forum section, someone or a team of individuals will mock you in various forms 'tin foil hat', 'conspiracy nut', and my favorite, 'where is the proof of these infections?' One only needs to search Google for these threats and they will open your malware world view to a much larger arena of malware on devices not scanned/supported by the scanners from these freeware sites. This point assumed you're using the proprietary Microsoft Windows OS. Now, let's move on to Linux.

The rootkit scanners for Linux are few and poor. If you're lucky, you'll know how to use chkrootkit (but you can use strings and other tools for analysis) and show the strings of binaries on your installation, but the results are dependent on your capability of deciphering the output and performing further analysis with various tools or in an environment such as Remnux Linux. None of these free scanners scan the earlier mentioned areas of your PC, either! Nor do they detect many of the hundreds of trojans and rootkits easily available on popular websites and the dark/deep web.

Compromised defenders of Linux will look down their nose at you (unless they are into reverse engineering malware/bad binaries, Google for this and Linux and begin a valuable education!) and respond with a similar tone, if they don't call you a noob or point to verifying/downloading packages in a signed repo/original/secure source or checking hashes, they will jump to conspiracy type labels, ignore you, lock and/or shuffle the thread, or otherwise lead you astray from learning how to examine bad binaries. The world of Linux is funny in this way, and I've been a part of it for many years. The majority of Linux users, like the Windows users, will go out of their way to lead you and say anything other than pointing you to information readily available on detailed binary file analysis.

Don't let them get you down, the information is plenty and out there, some from some well known publishers of Linux/Unix books. Search, learn, and share the information on detecting and picking through bad binaries. But this still will not touch the void of the APT malware described above which will survive any wipe of r/w media. I'm convinced, on both *nix and Windows, these pieces of APT malware are government in origin. Maybe not from the US, but most of the 'curious' malware I've come across in poisoned binaries, were written by someone with a good knowledge in English, some, I found, functioned similar to the now well known Flame malware. From my experience, either many forum/mailing list mods and malware developers/defenders are 'on the take', compromised themselves, and/or working for a government entity.

Search enough, and you'll arrive at some lone individuals who cry out their system is compromised and nothing in their attempts can shake it of some 'strange infection'. These posts receive the same behavior as I said above, but often they are lone posts which receive no answer at all, AT ALL! While other posts are quickly and kindly replied to and the 'strange infection' posts are left to age and end up in a lost pile of old threads.

If you're persistent, the usual challenge is to, "prove it or STFU" and if the thread is not attacked or locked/shuffled and you're lucky to reference some actual data, they will usually attack or ridicule you and further drive the discussion away from actual proof of APT infections.

The market is ripe for an ambitious company or individual to begin demanding companies and organizations who release firmware and design hardware to release signed and hashed packages and pour this information into the cloud, so everyone's BIOS is checked, all firmware on routers, NICs, and other devices are checked, and malware identified and knowledge reported and shared openly.

But even this will do nothing to stop backdoored firmware (often on commercial routers and other networked devices of real importance for government use - which again opens the possibility of hackers discovering these backdoors) people continue to use instead of refusing to buy hardware with proprietary firmware/software.

Many people will say, "the only safe computer is the one disconnected from any network, wireless, wired, LAN, internet, intranet" but I have seen and you can search yourself for and read about satellite, RF, temperature, TEMPEST (is it illegal in your part of the world to SHIELD your system against some of these APT attacks, especially TEMPEST? And no, it's not simply a CRT issue), power line and many other attacks which can and do strike computers which have no active network connection, some which have never had any network connection. Some individuals have complained they receive APT attacks throughout their disconnected systems and they are ridiculed and labeled as a nutter. The information exists, some people have gone so far as to scream from the rooftops online about it, but they are nutters who must have some serious problems and this technology with our systems could not be possible.

I believe most modern computer hardware is more powerful than many of us imagine, and a lot of these systems swept from above via satellite and other attacks. Some exploits take advantage of packet radio and some of your proprietary hardware. Some exploits piggyback and unless you really know what you're doing, and even then... you won't notice it.

Back to the Windows users, a lot of them will dismiss any strange activity to, "that's just Windows!" and ignore it or format again and again only to see the same APT infected activity continue. Using older versions of sysinternals, I've observed very bizarre behavior on a few non networked systems, a mysterious chat program running which doesn't exist on the system, all communication methods monitored (bluetooth, your hard/software modems, and more), disk mirroring software running[1], scans running on different but specific file types, command line versions of popular Windows freeware installed on the system rather than the use of the graphical component, and more.

[1] In one anonymous post on pastebin, claiming to be from an intel org, it blasted the group Anonymous, with a bunch of threats and information, including that their systems are all mirrored in some remote location anyway.

[2] Or other government, US used in this case due to the article source and speculation vs. China. This is not to defend China, which is one messed up hell hole on several levels and we all need to push for human rights and freedom for China's people. For other, freer countries, however, the concentration camps exist but you wouldn't notice them, they originate from media, mostly your TV, and you don't even know it. As George Carlin railed about "Our Owners", "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

[3] http://www.stallman.org/ [stallman.org]

Try this yourself on a wide variety of internet forums and mailing lists, push for malware scanners to scan more than files, but firmware/BIOS. See what happens, I can guarantee it won't be pleasant, especially with APT cases.

So scan away, or blissfully ignore it, but we need more people like RMS[3] in the world. Such individuals tend to be eccentric but their words ring true and clear about electronics and freedom.

I believe we're mostly pwned, whether we would like to admit it or not, blind and pwned, yet fiercely holding to misinformation, often due to lack of self discovery and education, and "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

##

Schneier has covered it before: power line fluctuations (differences on the wire in keys pressed).

There's thermal attacks against cpus and temp, also:

ENF (google it)

A treat (ENF Collector in Java):

sourceforge dot net fwdslash projects fwdslash nfienfcollector

No single antimalware scanner exists which offers the ability to scan (mostly proprietary) firmware on AGP/PCI devices (sound cards, graphics cards, usb novelty devices excluding thumb drives), BIOS/CMOS.

If you boot into ultimate boot cd you can use an archane text interface to dump BIOS/CMOS and examine/checksum.

The real attacks which survive disk formats and wipes target your PCI devices and any firmware which may be altered/overwritten with something special. It is not enough to scan your hard drive(s) and thumb drives, the real dangers with teeth infect your hardware devices.

When is the last time you:

Audited your sound card for malware?
Audited your graphics card for malware?
Audited your network card for malware?

Google for:

* AGP and PCI rootkit(s)
* Network card rootkit(s)
* BIOS/CMOS rootkit(s)

Our modern PC hardware is capable of much more than many can imagine.

Do you:

* Know your router's firmware may easily be replaced on a hacker's whim?
* Shield all cables against leakage and attacks
* Still use an old CRT monitor and beg for TEMPEST attacks?
* Use TEMPEST resistant fonts in all of your applications including your OS?
* Know whether or not your wired keyboard has keypresses encrypted as they pass to your PC from the keyboard?
* Use your PC on the grid and expose yourself to possible keypress attacks?
* Know your network card is VERY exploitable when plugged into the net and attacked by a hard core blackhat or any vicious geek with the know how?
* Search out informative papers on these subjects and educate your friends and family about these attacks?
* Contact antimalware companies and urge them to protect against many or all these attacks?

Do you trust your neighbors? Are they all really stupid when it comes to computing or is there a geek or two without a conscience looking to exploit these areas?

The overlooked threat are the potential civilian rogues stationed around you, especially in large apartment blocks who feed on unsecured wifi to do their dirty work.

With the recent news of Russian spies, whether or not this news was real or a psyop, educate yourself on the present threats which all antimalware scanners fail to protect against and remove any smug mask you may wear, be it Linux or OpenBSD, or the proprietary Windows and Mac OS you feel are properly secured and not vulnerable to any outside attacks because you either don't need an antivirus scanner (all are inept to serious attacks) or use one or several (many being proprietary mystery machines sending data to and from your machine for many reasons, one is to share your information with a group or set database to help aid in threats), the threats often come in mysterious ways.

Maybe the ancients had it right: stone tablets and their own unique language(s) rooted in symbolism.

#

I'm more concerned about new rootkits which target PCI devices, such as the graphics card and the optical drives, also, BIOS. Where are the malware scanners which scan PCI devices and BIOS for mismatches? All firmware, BIOS and on PCI devices should be checksummed and saved to match with others in the cloud, and archived when the computer is first used, backing up signed firmware.

When do you recall seeing signed router firmware upgrades with any type of checksum to check against? Same for PCI devices and optical drives and BIOS.

Some have begun with BIOS security:

http://www.biosbits.org/ [biosbits.org]

Some BIOS has write protection in its configuration, a lot of newer computers don't.

#

"Disconnect your PC from the internet and don't add anything you didn't create yourself. It worked for the NOC list machine in Mission Impossible"

The room/structure was likely heavily shielded, whereas most civvies don't shield their house and computer rooms. There is more than meets the eye to modern hardware.

Google:

subversion hack:
tagmeme(dot)com/subhack/

network card rootkits and trojans
pci rootkits
packet radio
xmit "fm fingerprinting" software
"specific emitter identification"
forums(dot)qrz(dot)com

how many malware scanners scan bios/cmos and pci/agp cards for malware? zero, even the rootkit scanners. have you checksummed/dumped your bios/cmos and firmware for all your pci/agp devices and usb devices, esp vanity usb devices in and outside the realm of common usb devices (thumbdrives, external hdds, printers),

Unless your computer room is shielded properly, the computers may still be attacked and used, I've personally inspected computers with no network connection running mysterious code in the background which task manager for windows and the eqiv for *nix does not find, and this didn't find it all.

Inspect your windows boot partition in *nix with hexdump and look for proxy packages mentioned along with command line burning programs and other oddities. Computers are more vulnerable than most would expect.

You can bet all of the malware scanners today, unless they are developed by some lone indy coder in a remote country, employ whitelisting of certain malware and none of them scan HARDWARE devices apart from the common usb devices.

Your network cards, sound cards, cd/dvd drives, graphics cards, all are capable of carrying malware to survive disk formatting/wiping.

Boot from a Linux live cd and use hexdump to examine your windows (and *nix) boot sectors to potentially discover interesting modifications by an unknown party.

#
eof

Tapes. Are. Useless. (5, Informative)

fraxinus-tree (717851) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Tapes. Are. Useless. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Tapes. Are. Useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971505)

I have to say the only place tape has in today's world is the following scenarios:

1. As a "tape-out" solution for a disk (heavily deduped) solution - usually to satisfy a regulatory requirement that specifies tape backup
2. In environments with such large data sets that deduped disk based solutions are not feasible/scalable

In both these environments restores are so infrequent that the horrid mess that is tape backup is not a big problem.

The number of clients I work with that have three or four generations of creaky old (untested) tape drives and backup software hanging about for some "just in case" restore situation is in equal parts extremely scary and expensive.

Tape fast? Try an enterprise grade disk backup solution utilising client side deduplication (how about backup windows of a couple hours) and tell me tape is fast :)

Re:Tapes. Are. Useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971697)

You, being an enterprise backup engineer, probably can afford the extra cost, knowledge and effort to make the tapes work. Well, your work accounts for the above 5% of working tapes. I can make them work, too. For me.

As for the clients, with their dusty server rooms, ill-terminated scsi cables, piles of mixed old and new media and ill-trained Joe Admins - well, HDD please.
Joe Admin knows what to do with HDDs and how to recognize when something goes wrong, dust is not an issue and for unknown reason, hand-labeling works better.

Re:Tapes. Are. Useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971711)

Ha, your comment about all the things Joe Admin needs to do to make sure tape backup works at its potential is exactly why tape backup is disappearing in SMB.

Re:Tapes. Are. Useless. (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971911)

I disagree. Sure you can use tape but the new stuff with speciality raid flash card storage controllers and SANs are immensly popular! I so someone demo it at a network users group and he could store over a terabyte of data backed up within 23 seconds from 2 different restore servers. It was so sweet and fucking fast and easy. Tape is on the way out.

When it costs a few million an hour of lost productivity for a server shutdown it is not acceptable to backup a system from tape. The costs saved could pay for the system itself.

Re:Tapes. Are. Useless. (2)

grumbel (592662) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971577)

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).

Re:Tapes. Are. Useless. (1)

na1led (1030470) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971643)

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.

The question is so silly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971215)

... that I consider the editors to have gotten trolled.

Anyone who seriously considers to set up some sort of NAS at home should be aware of the seek-times of tapes (let alone wear).

I might do the OP injustice, but this "Ask slashdot" reeks of the intended creation of a "completely ridiculous" proposal. It's like "I want to take a car on a roadtrip through the country, but can I use square tires instead?"

If it is not that, the OP did not even spend a fraction of a second looking into the matter himself (as in comparing prices for tapes and a HDD solution and in all honesty, what has such a question lost on slashdot? And even beyond that: Why would you even WANT to use tapes instead of a plain old HDD?

This topic here is... no matter what it is. It's silly and ridiculous.

RDX (1)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971223)

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.

Posting in a "Roll Bread" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971227)

Obvious troll is obvious. Look at the guys posting history. He isn't this dumb..

Great way to troll slashdot though.

Consider operation (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971231)

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 file, disk broke down, etc...) files.

VIC-20 days.... NO THANKS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971247)

If you've ever used a cassette deck on one of the older VIC-20's or TI-99's, you'd loose this idea real fast. Those sucked because you had to record the counter on an index card for every tape you used.

If though modern tape drives are faster, and don't have to be positioned manually, you've still got the VIC-20 problem of no filesystem to speak of. No matter what you do, it's a sequential medium. It's a stream.

Re:VIC-20 days.... NO THANKS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971349)

If I didn't use a VIC-20 cassette deck, would I tight this idea real fast? Or would I already know the difference between lose and loose?

No. Just no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971263)

Unless you are a very large business you don't need tape. And even business can make a good case not to use it these days.

Just let tape die. it was fine for it's day. but now it's time to get rid of the obsolete.

A long long time ago in an OS far far away... (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971275)

... 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.)

No. (1)

sirwired (27582) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971291)

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.

Back up torrents of Linux isos?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971297)

My first question is why? They are open source, they tend to exist forever..... and even if somehow you are worried that you wont be able to find version x, just download the source tarballs and whatever binary blobs you need(not many). Takes up way less space and if you absolutely need version x.y.z of your distro, you can just rebuild it.

More brilliant ways to re-purpose random stuff (3, Funny)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971335)

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..."

Jesus - how stupid has slashdot become? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971355)

He's asking if there is an opensores equivalent of HSM. I think.
All anyone can do is say how stupid he is for asking, but HSM technology has existed for, well, a long fucking time.

Does an open source implementation of HSM exist? Sounds extremely fucking useful to me.

Tape drive solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971559)

What solvent are you using?

Bluray Data Storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971571)

Tape is too costly and you'd need a complex set of software to handle the not-on-disk-check-the-tape-and-pull-it-to-disk. That exists for enterprises at an enterprise cost. Tapes that are used too much stretch and break. They are designed for linear access, not random access.

Another alternative would be to use Bluray Data Storage. Build a catalogue of files per disc. Store that catelog on disk and you'd be able to access it. I've been doing this on DVD media for about a decade.

Simply by storing anything on a data DVD with par2 protection to recover from bit-rot that happens on all media, but is extremely likely on optical media. Every DVD is labled with a number - 001, 002, 003 ... there is a corresponding file on every system here, dvd-001, dvd-002, .... you get the idea. A tiny bash or perl script with a web front-end lets my family easily search for recorded TV and movies. It returns the index for the disc .... 345, they go into the collection, the discs are ordered by number, pull out 345, drop it into the server and start watching anything on that disc, including the show/movie they wanted.

If any file on a disc doesn't work or there is any failure whatsoever, they tell me and I use all the tools dd_rescue, par2, etc to recover the files and burn a fresh copy of the data to new media. So far, we haven't lost any files and only 3 DVDs have needed it all this time. I started doing this in 2002 according to disc dvd-001.

The great thing is that this method scales as storage scales. Most of the media is DVD now, but it can be bluray or 3TB HDDs just as easily. I suspect when very large HDDs become $50, I'll start using those. We already have a dual eSATA "dock" to swap the disks into. Having equivalent storage to 600 data DVDs on a 3TB HDD certainly would be nice, but that is a lot of eggs in 1 basket, as Mom would say. After compression, a single layer data DVD stores about 4 or 5 recorded movies. A dual-layer data DVD stores about 8-10 recorded 480p movies. You can do the math. We're talking many thousdsands of movies, TV series, gameshows, family videos, ebooks, websites, anything you'd like to archive. Just be aware that you'd want a backup of all that stuff. HDDs definitely fail from time to time and never when it is convenient.

Today, Bluray optical data is probably the sweet spot for offline storage features and costs. Plan on about 1GB per SD movie and 3 TV show episodes fit in 1GB, so a 25G or 50G Bluray will hold a bunch.

End Of Data mark (1)

Raging Bool (782050) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971589)

This is not a sensible idea at all. Not just because of the access times, however, but due to the way that many tape drives write to the tape.

Each write operation to a tape moves the End Of Data mark to the position on tape where the last write operation finished. This prevents the drive from reading beyond the end of useful data. Now, if someone were to try to use a tape drive for random writes, the End Of Data mark will be in the wrong place, preventing access to the rest of the data lying beyond that point.

Tapes do still have their uses in certain organisations, but trying to use tapes as large disks is pointless from a technical point of view, unless you are prepared to restore the entire contents to disk cache in order to edit a file, and then re-write the new tape contents back down to tape in linear fashion.

Is this a troll? (2)

AbRASiON (589899) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971679)

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,...

Re:Is this a troll? (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971887)

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 tracks.

Anyway it is just ignorance I am sure.

helloooo??????? (2)

os10000 (8303) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971731)

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

UNSUBSCRIBE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971743)

I would prefer not seeing these sort of silly user queries henceforth.

Offline storage (1)

machine321 (458769) | about a year and a half ago | (#40971883)

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 tapes need to be available, and if you run something that tries to access every file you're gonna have a bad time.

One problem you'll find is that consumer hard drives are cheap, and there's no such thing as consumer-grade tape devices any more. Tape gear will either be expensive or used. That tips the cost/benefit heavily towards throwing disks at the problem for home use.

really? come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40971931)

What kind of question is this? Seriously

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