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She blinded me with science – migrating data from LTO2 to LTO5

Thomas Dolby was a one hit wonder who wrote and sang the title song to the movie Weird Science. This song was released in 1982 and besides hearing it in the background at very odd places and times, it is never played on the radio. I wanted my 17 year old daughter to hear it, so I pulled out my old vinyl record and went over to the HI-FI and guess what…….I have no record player. I looked on line and the only thing I could find was USB record players. My stereo does not have a USP port. NOW WHAT?

Your data, your information (your main asset) is a lot like that. What if you need the data you created 3 years ago (forget 1982 for the moment)? How do you retrieve that data? Assuming you still have the tape drives that the data was created on, you are all good. But what if you don’t? What if your data is on DLT2 tapes? Pretty old technology, but still in use in many places.

Well to be honest, you are probably pretty hosed, as the DLT2 drives had a short Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF) and are hard to find. But you would need the tape, a tape drive and the version of the backup product you used to create it. These are three things that are very hard to line up.

What if you are missing one of those items? Sure you can go out and buy a DLT2 Tape drive, but it will cost you more because of its vintage nature. Plus if the original tape drive have misaligned heads which you have to adjust the heads of any new drive to read the old tape. This also costs you money.

Keeping with the 80’s movie theme, the product that creates your tapes needs to make sure you can go “back to the future”. If you create a tape now you need to be able to read it in 10 years. You will no longer have the same drives or even the same technology. So, you need to plan now. At least once a year you need to take your older tapes and migrate them to newer media. You should also audit the data on the tape to make sure it is still readable.

What I mean is, bring in all your old LTO2 tapes and migrate the data to your new LTO5 tapes. By migrating data from LTO2 to LTO5, you can lower the amount of physical volumes you have which means less storage space and less tape mounts, but it also means that you can make sure that data is still viable and still able to be recovered.

This is called “rolling your data forward in time”. If you keep your data for long periods of time, it is very important. Do not get BLINDED WITH SCIENCE. Look BACK TO THE FUTURE and plan to actually be able to recover your data even if it is 50 years down the road.

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