[ This article was first published in the March, 2011, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]
A few days ago, I wrote about my frustrations in finding archiving solutions that work on the Mac for protecting our video assets. (You can read that blog here — some of the comments are VERY interesting!)
The day after that posted, I had a long phone conversation with the executive team at Cache-A (which I can tell you about after NAB), plus a long email from HP.
Since I spent much of my post complaining about the HP gear, I wanted to share their response with you. This was written by Laura Loredo, World Wide Product Marketing Manager for HP-Nearline.
I would like to apologize for your frustration trying to install the HP LTO-5 tape drive with LTFS.
My understanding is that most of your frustration came from trying to do a firmware upgrade. Unfortunately an old drive was sent to you that didn’t have the correct code. I can assure you that current shipping drives come with the correct firmware and customers do not have to spend 2 weeks of their time, and go through 30 steps, to get this done. I am really sorry that such a drive was sent to you and wasted your time.
By avoiding the firmware upgrade, the software install instructions would have been like this:
1) Install MacFuse (download from http://code.google.com/p/macfuse/)
2) Install two packages (download from http://hp.com/go/ltfs)
3) create a new directory in Finder. I’ll call it ‘mydirectory’.
4) Format and mount your tape (much like you would for a new disk). This requires two commands from a terminal window. The first command formats the drive:
mkltfs -d 0
The second mounts the drive
ltfs mydirectory [for “mydirectory” substitute the name of the folder you created in step 3]
Now you are ready to drop your asset directory (or whatever) onto the LTFS icon.
I realize that this still requires a certain level of IT expertise.
In your blog you made some very good recommendations on what you see as a great tape- based archiving solution:
- Can be installed easily on the Mac OS
We are learning about Mac users and we need some real improvements in our whole set-up process. This is why your feedback is much appreciated.
- Is willing to list the product and its price on their website
Go to: www.hp.com/go/LTO you can find products and the prices for the LTO-5 tape drives.
- Has an announced shipping date
HP LTO-5 tape drives have been shipping since March 2010, LTFS since June 2010 – www.hp.com/go/ltfs
- Has an announced price of between $2,000 and $4,000
HP LTO-5 Ultrium 3000 tape drives can be bought at less than $3,000.
- Can connect to Macs via Thunderbolt or FireWire
This will be a major R&D project, but something we will be taking into account.
- Supports the LTO-5 standard, which makes file backup/restore VERY easy
- And includes archiving software that can be run by mere mortals and not IT gods…
With LTFS there is no need for special archiving software, you can drag and drop onto the tape device, just like you do when you use a disk for archiving.
This is the first time our products connect into the Mac environment, so much work is required in order to improve the overall customer experience.
If you would like to have a chat about any of these issues please let me know and we can arrange for a call.
Thank you very much for taking the time to look into this new technology.
World Wide Product Marketing Manager
I want to thank Laura for taking the time to read and reply to this issue. Unless we solve this problem soon, archiving video assets is only going to get worse. I look forward to tape backup vendors providing products that meet the needs, and price-points, of video producers around the world.
The reason HP, and others, need to seriously think about how their tape drives connect to computers is that only the MacPro tower supports mini-SAS connections. And the majority of video editors are working with laptops and iMacs which don’t support mini-SAS. In other words, mini-SAS prevents HP from selling their products to potentially millions of editors that need to archive their assets.
Yes, it is an R&D effort. On the other hand, this effort opens up a vast, new market.
One last note, the LTFS File System allows users to simply drag files on top of the icon for their tape backup system to copy a file. However, as you would expect, tape drives are much slower than hard disks, so files take a while to transfer or restore. Also, if you know where a file is located (folder and path) you can easily find it using LTFS. However, at this point, LTFS is not yet integrated with Spotlight, so, for people not familiar with Unix command line search syntax, its search capabilities are less robust than we would expect.
Still, LTFS is a HUGE step in the right direction.
As always, let me know what you think.
After I wrote the first blog, two readers sent in additional comments directly to me, rather than posting them on the blog.
Bryan Peel writes:
Anyways, wanted to drop this little note regarding archive solutions for post. We wrote the article regarding EMC Retrospect. Well, EMC made a mess of the software when v8 was released and we had to switch to something else. So we went with BRU PE. While BRU PE works, it is quite messy and really we missed the basic functions (proper search etc) of Retrospect.
Roxio took over Retrospect and we went back and reviewed and tested…..bottom line…we are back with Retrospect and tossed BRU – full licence and a one year support – to the curb.
Howard Wexler adds:
I recently purchased an CacheA LTO-4 device from Audio Inter-visual Design in Hollywood, after reading a white paper from Silverado Systems. I am very happy with my unit and it is easy to use on a Mac. I have had new G raid drives fail, and others make noise, so I figured it was time to take the step. I back up drives overnight, and print out the contents so things are easy to find. The unit also comes with neat software to make a visual catalog of each tape.
Larry replies: Thanks, Bryan and Howard. I appreciate the feedback.
UPDATE – March 5, 2011
Ben Balser writes:
Yes, I, too, am very fed up with the industry not evolving an LTO solution that is affordable and FW based. No technical reason for it to not exist right now. I will be harping on vendors about this at NAB big time this year. Ridiculous situation. Let’s hope Thunderbolt will change this over the next several months.
Larry replies: Ben, thanks for sharing this.
Jim McQuaid comments:
Customers often think of their “niche” as a “vast new market.” If we think about the sales qualification process for prospective purchasers of an LTO drive (imagine you are an HP salesperson), you probably don’t qualify many small editing houses or free-lancers today. No doubt that there is a market of some size and shape here, just guessing that HP is wondering if it’s worth all the hassle. Im hoping it is, but I would not be surprised if the software development to make the product work well on Mac is a barrier to HP really supporting our need for archiving.
Larry replies: Jim, I agree that most markets overestimate their size.
However, three additional data points:
My point is that, currently, LTO vendors assume everyone has a tower, everyone has an IT department, and everyone can use plug-in cards. These are not safe assumptions for the majority of the video editing market.