Tandberg Data StorageLoader LTO2 review

£2747
Price when reviewed

Since its introduction in 2001, the LTO tape format has taken the backup market by storm. Analysts Gartner reported that last year it had a 77 per cent market share over SDLT and SAIT. Tandberg Data’s StorageLoader makes the format even more versatile, as it’s taken its half-height LTO-2 tape drive and created a slimline 1U autoloader. Equipped with a single LTO-2 internal drive and eight media slots, it’s capable of delivering an impressive native capacity of 1.6TB.

The internal design used to achieve this low profile is very simple. The drive sits at the rear of the chassis and is flanked on both sides by four-slot magazines. The loader arm moves down the centre where it can access each slot and the drive. The StorageLoader offers a good range of features too. Remote management comes as standard and the price also includes a barcode reader.

The StorageLoader is well built with a sturdy steel chassis and high-quality plastic front panel. A standby switch is provided to force the device into an offline mode. This could be useful, as we found during testing that the backup software locked the unit, stopping the magazines from being removed. An LCD and four-button control panel is provided for diagnostics, monitoring and manual configuration.

You can select a SCSI ID for the tape drive and loader, give the loader arm a specific personality and set an audible alarm for hardware errors. Cleaning slots may be designated, a barcode scan initiated and tapes slots selected, and their contents loaded into the tape drive. The Ethernet port can be given a static IP address or use DHCP.

For testing, we connected the StorageLoader to an IBM xServer 366 (see p164) and used the latest CA ARCserve for Windows 11.5. It was correctly identified by the backup software where it displayed all eight slots in its Device window. This provided full access to the drive and slots, allowing us to run inventories and move tapes around inside the autoloader. For performance testing, we used a 15GB mixture of files on the IBM server and asked the StorageLoader to back up, verify and restore the data to its original location. With such a powerful server at its foundation, the LTO-2 drive was able to stream freely. ARCserve reported 25.2MB/sec, 22.5MB/sec and 22.8MB/sec for each respective operation.

The password-protected web management interface is well designed, with the homepage providing a smart graphic showing the tape drive, magazines and loader and the location of all cartridges. Usefully, you can click on any item and a window pops up to show its status, a list of detected errors and cartridge barcodes. The interface provides remote access to the same commands as accessed at the local control panel. You can also activate event notification, where warning messages will be sent to one email address if any problems are detected.

LTO is clearly the medium of choice in the mid-range backup market. The StorageLoader LTO2 strengthens its case even more, especially as it’s unlikely SDLT or SAIT tape drives can be reduced sufficiently in height to allow them to fit into a 1U chassis. Overall performance is very good and the device comes as standard with useful remote management features.

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