What is LTO Tape & How to Prevent Data Loss from LTO Media?

There is a wide variety of tape media and tape drives, based on the storage technology/formats such as DDS, DLT, LTO, and many more. Linear Tape-Open (LTO) is a single reel, high capacity tape storage solution that is especially used for data backup.

Though the tape data storage technology has evolved over the past few decades, the core of tape media hasn’t changed yet. All the tape media or data cartridges including LTO primarily have a magnetic tape to store data. Apart from this, they have other components to support the functioning of tape. A magnetic tape typically has three layers:

  1. Top Layer—Magnetic Coating: The magnetic layer is the topmost layer that stores the data. This layer is comprised of magnetic particles, lubricants, and polymer binders.
  2. Substrate—Backing Film: A thicker backing film is the next layer that supports a thin magnetic layer.
  3. Back-coat: This is the last layer at the backside of tape. This is meant to reduce tape friction, dissipate static charge, and reduce tape distortion.

LTO tapes are the most widely used tapes nowadays because of their open format. Moreover, LTO tapes offer various advantages over other types of tape media, which are:

  • Higher data storage capacity
  • Higher data transfer rate
  • More secure

The tape is covered and placed in a special enclosure called data cartridge.

Despite being a secure data storage media, LTO tapes may also pose data loss challenges. For example, what if the tape media malfunctions or the tape is damaged? There could be many reasons for damage, leading to data loss from tape media.

Reasons for LTO Tape Data Loss

  • Tape deterioration due to moisture, dust, or heat
  • Loss of tape lubricant
  • Distortion of tape
  • Tape entangled
  • Broken tape
  • Sticky tape
  • Sticky shed
  • Failure of the tape library
  • Malfunctioned/damaged data cartridge
  • Tape unreadable
  • The occurrence of errors while restoring, such as “No backup sets found”
  • Issues with the creation of the catalog
  • Backup configuration issues
  • Data restored from backup couldn’t be accessed because of errors
  • Restored data shows garbage values

Best Way to Recover LTO Tape Data

If you’ve lost your crucial business data from LTO (LTO-1 to LTO-9), DDS, DLT, SDLT, AIT, SAIT, QIC, or any other tape media, it’s best to seek the help of a tape data recovery expert like Stellar. Professional Data Recovery Service providers have specialized tools and techniques for data recovery. Moreover, they recover your confidential data with safety, integrity, and security.

[WARNING]: Using hit-and-trial methods to recover tape data may further damage the media, thus minimizing the chances of data recovery.

How to Take Care of LTO Tape Media?

To prevent data loss, you must take care of your tape media so as to prevent damage to any layer of tape or data cartridge. Follow these tips:

  1. Prevent tape media from moisture: When polymer binder in the magnetic coating of tapes comes in contact with moisture or water, it starts deteriorating. As a result, the magnetic particles become loose and the surface of the tape becomes sticky, resulting in higher friction. If that’s the case, the tape might get stuck, or magnetic particles containing data might start leaving the surface, resulting in data loss. Hence, you must keep the tape media away from moisture and water.
  2. Prevent from heat: Exposure of tape media to heat may cause tape distortion due to thermal expansion. Also, it may affect the magnetic property of tape.
  3. Keep media away from the strong magnetic field: Data is stored on tape media in the form of a magnetic field. Exposure to strong magnetic fields might decrease the magnetic remanence—the ability of magnetic particles to retain the magnetic field—of particles, resulting in data loss.
  4. Prevent from dust: Dust may scratch the tape or even cease the movement of tape and make it unreadable.


This blog discussed the LTO tape data storage technology/format, advantages of LTO tape over other types of tape media and reasons for tape data loss from LTO media. Additionally, the blog outlined some data loss prevention tips based on the structure of tape media. In case of data loss from LTO tapes, it is recommended to contact a tape data recovery expert like Stellar to recover LTO tape data.

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