Format LTFS tapes

LTFS uses LTO-9, LTO-8, LTO-7, LTO-6 or LTO-5 tapes, which must be formatted before they can be used.
These instructions apply to YoYotta LTFS and desktop LTO drives. YoYotta Automation formats LTO library tapes automatically.

Insert a tape

Blank tapes will be automatically detected and a format panel will appear.

LTFS tapes must be formatted with a unique 6 character code. The code can use the letters A-Z and numbers 0-9, for example 123456, ABCDEF, YO1234, 17376A matching the barcode label.
The tape barcode label is 8 characters, which is the user selectable 6 characters with either L5, L6, L7, M8 or L8 on the end for LTO-5, LTO-6, LTO-7 or LTO-8 tapes. So 123456L5, ABCDEFL6, YO1234L6, 17376AL7.
Do not use the same code for multiple tapes, always use different codes even if making copies.
It's best to use barcode labels for all tapes, this means that they can be used with YoYotta Automation and an LTO library. Also barcode labels are an easy way to identify tapes.
Do not use the same 6 characters for copies of tapes

Always make two copies of all material. One Main and one Safety (or clone) tape.
YoYotta will decode the barcode and show Main or Safety when selecting destination tapes, this can be ignored if you are not using one of the conventions below.

There are three suggested conventions for labelling main / safety tapes.

Odd/Even numbering YT0111, 127633, XTM127 are main tapes and YT0112, 127634, XTM128 are the matching safety tapes.
A-M / N-Z as the 5th letter HRSMDA, HRSMDB and HRSMDC are main tapes, HRSMQA, HRSMQB and HRSMQC are the matching safety tapes. This method allows 4 letter project codes (in this case HRSM) and 13x26 main and 13x26 safety tapes.
A/B as last character ABC12A, YY100A, H2122A, SHOW1A and 12567A are main tapes, ABC12B, YY100B, H2122B, SHOW1B and 12567B are the matching safety tapes.

After formatting you cannot change this label, as it is written into each index on the tape and also written to the chip inside the tape. To change the label you have to reformat the tape.


Format the tape

Using tape compression is recommended, internally the LTO drive will compress files that are uncompressed.
Enable compression when formatting in the LTFS panel. The compression is lossless and varies from 1:1 to 2.5:1.
Uncompressed files like ARRIRAW, CINE, DNG and DPX can see a 10 to 20% space saving and these files will transfer faster.
With all other video files that are already compressed like ProRes or H.264 there won't be any reduction in size, but it's no slower so we suggest leaving it enabled all the time.
The ratio 2.5:1 allows the LTO vendors to quote a crazy compressed figure of 15TB on LTO-7 and 6TB on LTO-6. This would only be achieved with text or other files that compress easily. We haven't found anyone with that amount of text files !!
Click the format button to start.

The potential compression is unknown until after data has been written, so the drive will show uncompressed space.
Some studios like Netflix will ask for tapes with compression turned off, so check the delivery spec before formatting.


Formatting complete

YoYotta will automatically mount the tape. This will take several minutes.


Tape formatted

The tape is now mounted and ready to add as a destination. After use eject the tape.
Then to read the tape insert it into the drive and mount it.

YoYotta reserves a minimum of 100GB on each tape, this avoids any problems with tape capacity if files need to be re-transferred. Also it's not a good idea to overfill an LTFS tape. If needed this space can be increased to 300GB or 500GB. The reason for increasing this would be to allow small amounts of related files to be added to the tape in the future. Also some studios require a larger space to be left on tapes when delivering camera footage.


Reformatting tapes

Click the Format button in the LTFS panel to reformat a tape. Deleting folders from the tape does not recover space. To remove all data and reuse the tape, then it must be reformatted.
YoYotta LTFS detects that the tape is already formatted and warns before allowing reformatting.

Unformatting tapes

Occasionally you may want to unformat a tape, for example you may need to change the barcode label. Or the tape may have been written with TAR or another format.
Hold down both the control and option/alt keys and click the Format button. This removes the LTFS header so the tape will appear as a new blank tape.

Do not use a magnetic tape eraser to erase tapes, as this will remove the tape timing tracks making them unusable.

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