Expiry Dates of LTO Ultrium Tapes

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This article covers the Expiry dates , and the limited lifetime warranty of the LTO ultrium tapes. Since there are no expiry dates mentioned on the carton, this always causes confusion on why there is no expiry , and is there actually a date before which the tapes are good to use ?

No Expiry , Just a production date... on Some

There is no Expiry date Explicitly mentioned on the box. There is only a date of production that's mentioned on the master carton of Certain Vendors like IBM. This unlike Toners and Inks where date of Manufacturer and Expiry are both specified . Manufacturer Logic behind putting only a production date on the tapes carton is that the actual expiry would depend greatly upon the usage and storage conditions.

IBM is the only manufacturer who puts the date of Production, HPE and Quanutm for example don't.

Many customers insist that the tape should be Manufactured within last 3 months at the time of supply, which actually should be irrelevant. 3 Months manufacturing is just 0.83% of the Shelf life of the tape. So if you buy a tape which was produced 3 months back, you are buying a tape that has merely lapsed its 0.83% of the life - Actually less if its stored properly.

Further there is no way for the seller to Verify the year of Manufacture of the tapes. For Non IBM Tapes, there is no Date of Manufacture on the tape ( only a cryptic number on the tape that The manufacturer can decode to find the actual date of manufacture). This is also true for IBM tapes once the carton has been discarded.

Do Tapes Actually Expire ?

The Next logical question is - do they actually ever expire ?

Yes, tapes have an expiry date, thought its very very long, and your tape will be obsolete long before it actually expires. There are 2 ways in which Expiry of Tapes is specified

  • Number of Years : Typically 15-30 Years
  • Number of Passes : Typically 200-300 Number of Full passes.

You are not going to write to your tape more than 300 times, End of End, full Capacity. You are also not going to use your Tape for 15 years, your tape and the backup system would be obsolete long before that. So the expiry dates are so long that you don't have to worry about it.

You are safe with Verify-after-Write

LTO uses an automatic verify-after-write technology to immediately check the data as it is being written. If any tape has exhausted its number of passes, the system will notify you to change it. This is a more reliable method of monitoring your LTO tape health than relying on the number of years it has served for.

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