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HP StoreOpen with LTFS for Windows: Making tape as easy to access and share as disk

By Simon Watkins, Worldwide Tape Product Marketing Manager, HP Storage

 

I’m proud to say that HP Tape’s unique blend of cost-effective, scalable, dependable and removable storage has always delivered proven benefits when it comes to protecting and retaining your data. 

 

However, I’ll admit it:  accessing and sharing files on HP tape in Windows environments has not been as easy as disk. . . until now.

 

Just launched, HP StoreOpen with Linear Tape File System (LTFS) for Windows is a new tape-based file system for HP LTO-5 tape that is a true game changer when it comes to the usability and portability of tape in standalone Microsoft Windows environments. Watch this demo for HP StoreOpen with LTFS for Windows right now:

 

For best viewing, watch the video on YouTube in HD, and change to full screen mode.

 

What does HP StoreOpen with LTFS for Windows do?

LTFS for Windows from HP makes LTO-5 tape self-describing, file-based and easy-to-use.  It provides you with the ability to use standard Windows file operations on tape media for accessing, managing and sharing files with an interface that looks just like a hard disk.  

 

In addition, LTFS for Windows from HP allows you to share data across platforms, as you would with a USB drive or memory stick. Simply load a tape into the drive, mount it into the file system, and it becomes visible as a disk.

 

What are the 3 key benefits of LTFS for Windows?

  1. LTFS is an extension of your Windows operating system, so now tape is as easy to access as a disk drive. View tape contents in your Windows browser directory tree and move files to and from tape via simple drag and drop.
  2. Tape media written using LTFS is self-describing so that tape data access is independent of any hardware or software platforms. LTFS tapes can be shared easily across different operating systems and software.
  3. LTFS is an open format for storing data on tape. It therefore minimizes software dependencies, maximizes recoverability and facilitates the use of tape for long-term archives.

How does HP StoreOpen for Windows extend the value of LTFS?

HP StoreOpen software simplifies the process of using LTFS so it is even easier to take advantage of this groundbreaking technology.

 

HP StoreOpen Standalone for Windows is a free application that helps LTFS users to use and manage single HP tape drives. Available for Mac and Windows environments, it completely removes the need for low-level terminal commands by guiding you through the full process of selecting, preparing and mounting an LTFS cartridge.

 

Media & entertainment use cases for HP StoreOpen with LTFS

HP StoreOpen and LTFS delivers particular value for industries such as media and entertainment, healthcare and video surveillance – wherever increasing volumes of images, audio and video need to be protected, retained and distributed.

 

HP StoreOpen and LTFS provide an affordable and portable archive solution for rich media with an open tape format that stores files in application-independent self-describing fashion. The result? The simple interchange of content across platforms and workflows.

 

Check out this selection of HP case studies that showcase the benefits of LTFS in the media and entertainment sector:

>> DigitalFilm Tree accelerates Hollywood’s transition to LTO-5 with LTFS storage technology (PDF)

>> Realising a data archive environment for computer graphics that designers can operate easily (PDF)

>> BAMM TV customer testimonial (video)

 

Using tape has never been easier

Whether using a single HP LTO-5 tape drive, or a complete HP LTO-5 tape library solution, HP StoreOpen with LTFS delivers faster access to data, simple drag-and-drop capabilities and increased data mobility.  

 

Watch the video now: The value of HP StoreOpen with LTFS

Free download: HP StoreOpen standalone with LTFS for Windows

Free webinar: HP StoreOpen with LTFS

 

Learn more

>> HP StoreOpen product details

>>  LTFS overview

>> LTFS Hits the Mark in Media and Entertainment: An In-Depth Introduction to LTFS (PDF)

Comments
Ekin Alpagut | ‎09-05-2012 12:24 PM

Hi,

 

Thanks for LTFS news. I downloaded and tested it, it works fine but having an TR character coding issue which I have lots of file name that includes TR special characters like "Ş İ" . Windows OS can use those filenames without problem but when I try to transfer those files to LTO5, it wirtes an error. Do you know if the HPLTFS utility develeopers will provide a solution for character issue?

 

regards

PatrickN | ‎04-02-2013 08:28 PM

We are also having some odd problems with the Version 2.0 of HP's LTFS. 

Sometimes it sais, the file can't be written, as it exists already. But it doesn't. 

 

Once I copy it over and say "overwrite", it overwrites a complete different filename. 

The names are no special character, but in those directories are about 30.000 files, that have an ongoing naming. 

like r1241242, r1241243 and so on. 

 

So for us it's not a character issue, but somehow it messes this up. No rule to it, on 100.000 files it didn't happen, and then suddenly it did. 

 

Sure, we could make a zip and just copy that over, but we tried to not go this way. 

 

Any thoughts where this error comes from, is it a Windows 2012 specific issue, as the driver doesn't say it's supported yet. We had to use the Windows 2008 x64 driver. 

 

Thanks

Roland Rodgers | ‎04-26-2013 12:29 PM

We've been using LTFS on OSX and Windows 7 for some months now.

It is very useful to us but clearly still a work in progress.

 

It is all to easy to lock up explorer with LTFS and necessitate a reboot.

AND, Windows 2012 server is not yet supported.

 

At almost every trade show I am regaled with manufacturers telling me about the benefits of LTFS.  The marketing is not being matched by the quality of the software.  That applies more to Hp than others as HP has been very slow to get the Windows version out the door.

 

ROland Rodgers

| ‎05-03-2013 05:06 AM

Hi Roland - always appreciate the feedback.  I just got an LTO-6 drive from the team and installed it on my Windows 7 Workstation.  I have tons of raw video files that I have shot and I really don't want to delete them so I'm loving having LTFS. 

As to you question, a new version of HP StoreOpen Standalone is going to be released in the next couple of months. Further improvements and features are being added to the current version, including support for Windows 2012, so stay tuned for that.

 

The LTFS specification has now been adopted by SNIA (Storage Network Industry Association) for further development with an LTFS technical working group with engineers from the storage industry so that is great news for LTFS. Thanks again!

Tomtom | ‎06-13-2013 02:44 PM

Is there any update on Windows 2012 server compatibility yet?

Laura Loredo | ‎06-20-2013 11:30 AM

Win 2012 is now supported with HP StoreOpen Standalone.

For a full compatibility matrix please refer to the 'compatibility matrix' link on the 'Additional Information' at: www.hp.com/go/HPStoreOpen

Itzel Perez | ‎08-29-2013 11:12 PM

Which tools of third parties are a competition of hp StoreOpen?, Which would be the advantage of hp StoreOpen  vs Xendata Software?

Laura Loredo | ‎09-05-2013 09:30 AM

HP StoreOpen is a simple software solution that presents an HP StoreEver tape drive or tape library as a single mount point on a single host.  This solution presents the tape cartridges inside the tape library or tape drive as a collection of folders that can be accessed just like a folder on a hard drive.   Tape as NAS solutions – such as XenData -  virtualize HP StoreEver Tape Libraries and present the active archive as a network share using industry standard CIFS or NFS protocols.  This allows users and applications to store, search, access and retrieve data on low cost HP StoreEver tape-based storage, via a disk cache, without administrator intervention and without the need to manage individual pieces of tape media.   Both HP StoreOpen Automation and HP StoreOpen Standalone are great complements to more sophisticated LTFS archive solutions such as XenData,  for use in the field or for reading data from tapes that are exported from these solutions.  For the latest list of operating systems, backup, and archive software/appliances (including LTFS support) that support HP StoreEver Tape Libraries, visit hp.com/go/ebs

Simon Lund | ‎07-22-2014 09:58 PM

I have been trying OpenStore and, while it is much more convienient that TAR, there are a few basic things that seem problamatic. One is that you can only mount one drive at a time. Another is that, in Windows at least, if you have the hardware compression on, a LTO 5 tape is still listed as 1.3tb so if you try to copy a 1.4 tb folder that should fit with the compression on, it will not let you.

LauraLoredo | ‎07-23-2014 05:32 PM

LTO drives have hardware compression ON by default. If the data is compressible, the tape drive will perform compression and you will be able to record more than 1.3TB of data in a single cartridge. However, if data isn't compressible, as it is the case with audio and video files, then the drive will not attempt to compress and only the native capacity will be achievable. LTO drives use a lossless compression algorithm allowing the original data to be perfectly reconstructed from the compressed data.

Jonathan Lee | ‎10-28-2014 06:35 PM

Please, when will StoreOpen for Windows offer automation support?

Axel Mertes | ‎05-31-2015 08:12 PM

We are using LTFS for a while now and would like to see some additional features being implemented:

 

1.Writing index after tape idle for n minutes.

Right now there is only the option to write the index every time a file is closed, every 5 minutes or only when the tape is unmounted. After having had some instances of lost data due to a computer crash long after tape recording was finished, but before unmounting the tape - and having selected option "write index on unmount" , we think there is a big need to write the index when a tape is idle for a given time. In this case it would have prevented bad tapes EVERY TIME.

 

2. Writing index to ssd / hdd beside writing to tape.

Having the lost data issues in mind (see above) it would be excessively helpful to write the tape index not only to RAM but also to the c:\tmp\ltfs\ folder either every time a file is closed or every n minutes to prevent data loss. If the index on hdd / ssd is newer than the one on tape, the tape might be repaired using the newer index from hdd / ssd.

 

The point is not that the index is not on tape - the point is the index got lost entirely by not protecting it against computer crash. If the index would be on hdd / ssd - which can be updated by far more often / easier than rolling back & forth the tape, it would be IMHO wise to implement such approach.

 

Is there any LTFS developer out here who might chime in or contact me at axel dot mertes at magnamana dot com for details?

 

I'd also consider writing that hdd / ssd backup index in a 100% safe way by writing a new version with a new name, say "index.new", renaming a potentially existing "index.old" (if there is one) into "index.veryold", renaming the now old "index.current" to "index.old", rename the "index.new" into "index.current" and delete the "index.veryold". This way you can be sure to always have a correct version of the latest safely written index file. Even a crash while any of these steps happens will not result in a total loss of an working index file, worsed case you loose the very latest step. Given frequent updates that should be a minor issue IMHO.

 

We've implemented this strategy in various applications for autosafe and backup scenarios and NEVER lost a file, so its 100% prove to work.

 

Storage-Expert a month ago

Hi Axel.

 

Glad to hear you have been using LTFS for a while now, and thank you for the interesting suggestions. 

Saving the index to disk is a useful “safe copy” and in fact HP StoreOpen includes that option, though only at unmount.  A copy of the XML index is optionally saved to disk following an unmount of the volume.  However the main use case envisaged is to allow browsing of the contents of volumes that are not currently mounted, for example using the HP StoreOpen “LTFS Cartridge Browser” utility on Windows.

 

The scenario that you describe of a system crash or other failure before the index has been flushed to tape, is the reason that the “periodic sync” option was introduced, this copies the index to the content partition while writing.  It is not fixed at 5 minutes but can be adjusted as desired depending on the particular environment you are operating in; for example where power outages are more common, a more frequent sync might be desirable whereas in a very stable environment it could be lengthened to 15 minutes or more.  It’s important to note that the index is only written if it has changed since the last copy on tape.  When writing has finished for a time, there is only a small window of vulnerability (maximum of the sync time) until the index gets flushed.  Thereafter the index on tape will be current and no further updates will be necessary until more data is written to the volume. 

 

As an alternative, it is also possible to instruct the running ltfs process to perform a sync on demand.  This is done by writing to the virtual extended attribute ltfs.sync of the root volume.  Specifics of the command will depend on the operating system platform but this approach would work for all instances.  This technique means you can use the “write index on unmount” option and still write an index (if one is needed) at the time of your choosing.

 

The idea of writing a copy of the index to disk is certainly worth considering further, and the scheme you mention for maintaining a valid working copy would be a good strategy in that case.  Without further development there is currently no way of using a disk-based index to help repair an incomplete or corrupt tape volume; the process could become quite complex but may add value as a “last resort” for recovery.

 

Again, thank you for your input.

LauraLoredo

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