What is a LTO?


Linear Tape-Open


What is a LTO?

Linear Tape-Open (LTO) is a magnetic tape data storage technology originally developed in the late 1990s and introduced in 2000 as an open standard solution for backup and archiving of large amounts of data. The system is used by large institutions such as: software companies, banks, hospitals, insurance companies and, in our case, record companies. 
LTO technology is currently in its 7th generation. The LTO-7 spec supports tape cartridge storage with a compressed capacity of up to 15TB* which is more than twice the previous generation. The technology is spec'ed out to Gen 12 which will hold 480TB!
LTO specs provide backwards compatibility to read/write with previous generations. Current-generation LTO drives are able to read tapes from two generations prior and are able to write to tapes from the prior generation. This does require that previous generations are cycled up to the current generation. 

LTO Purple.jpg


LTO'S boast WORM- write once, read many capability that ensures that your data is not overwritten. This technology provides users a cost effective means of storing data in a format that cannot be rewritten. 


LTO technology features strong encryption capabilities to enhance security and privacy during storage and transport of LTO tape cartridges. 
LTO features a 256-symmetric key AES-GCM algorithm, implemented at the drive level, which enables compression before encryption to maximize capacity and performance during backup. 


Recent generations of LTO technology (LTO-5) include a partitioning feature which helps to enhance file control and space management via LFTS - Linear Tape File System - a self describing tape format. 
File data and file system metadata are stored in separate partitions on the tape. The metadata, which uses a standard XML schema, is readable by any LFTS system and can be modified separately from the data is describes. 
Partitioning allows for indexing, which points the drive to where in the tape a file is stored. The second partition holds the actual file. With LFTS, indexing information is first read by the drive then presented in a format that allows the user to "drag and drop", similar to other data carriers.


LTO tape is predicted to provide 15 to 100 years of archival storage. The current generation of LTO should be able to provide 200-364 full file passes. 

Helpful Definitions for Engineers Making Music!

  • Multi-track - Most commonly is a digital audio workstation (DAW) session file and all corresponding audio files used to create the final mix master. Common DAW platforms are Pro Tools, Logic, Neundo, etc. The audio files do not have the effects printed to the actual audio.

  • Stems - Represent each core performance of the musical arrangement of each Master Mix, such as each featured vocal, core or featured instrument, instrument section or vocal group and any additional sounds. All effects are printed to the respective parts.

  • Flat Master - Master mix with no EQ or effects (which are added at mastering).

  • Two-track Master – Final mix master approved by the artist, producer, and engineer intended for commercial release.

  • Surround Master – Any Surround mix created using more than 2 full bandwidth channels and one or more low-frequency effects channels. Examples include 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, 9.2, Pro-Logic IIx, Pro Logic IIz, Dolby DSX, etc

  • Mix versions:

    o A Capella Mix – Lead Vocal and BGV Only. Can also print LV Only A Capplla and BGV Only A Capella Mix

    o Instrumental – No vocals, instrumentation only

    o TV Mix – No Lead Vocal – includes all instruments and BGV's

    o Clean Mix – A complete replica of the mix master containing no profanity in the lyrics

    o Production Master - (in current and future production master release formats) – A fully edited and equalized master created at mastering and derived from the final and approved flat master.


Feel free to email me at dwaters@vevasound.com