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NOTE: This article is an archived copy for portfolio purposes only, and may refer to obsolete products or technologies. Old articles are not maintained for continued relevance and accuracy.
May 12, 1997

Qualstar TLS-4210 Tape Library

One of the most mundane aspects of network management is the care and feeding (literally) of backup tapes. Qualstar's TLS-4210 tape library aims to relieve you of this burden by bringing high-end tape library technology to the network market in an affordable, well-constructed package.

Figure 1
Figure 1

With the Qualstar's tape library, network administrators can simply forget about managing tapes and backup rotations altogether, leaving the library to perform these functions without any intervention.

Using the tape library, I was able to back up my entire network while restoring files to a server—all without having to physically touch the tapes or the library containing them. Although some holes persist in the overall solution, the Qualstar performed its job admirably and with extreme reliability.

Advanced engineering

The Qualstar TLS-4210 uses advanced tape-handling techniques generally found only on larger systems. Chief among these features are bar-code labels and a reader that can keep an inventory of the tapes without having to load and scan the actual tapes. Also notable is the library's use of multiple independent tape drives; tape "shoe boxes," which are useful for relocating entire sets of backups; and an import/export slot that lets you load and unload a single tape into the main unit without violating the system's security or integrity.

The tape loader itself boasts a highly machined reference platform that it uses to insert tapes into the drives. Rather than bump and grope the tape into its destination slot or drive, the loader uses the reference platform and inserts the tape into the exact center of the destination.

Storage galore

The TLS series comes in a wide range of configurations. Qualstar divides the line into 4 millimeter and 8 millimeter variations, with a capacity range from 70GB to more than 6 terabytes. Although this may seem like a lot of storage, it comes from having multiple drives and tapes installed, which enables an entirely hands-free environment with daily, weekly, and monthly tapes.

The unit I received for testing included Sony's brand-new SDX-300c drives, which Qualstar has yet to integrate into the overall system. I had to remove the back panel and set the drive jumpers manually.

Look ma, no hands

After I created a nightly backup schedule, I did not have to touch the tapes or the library. When I went to restore a directory on the server, I simply selected the directory from Cheyenne Software's ArcServe for NetWare 6.1 database, and the program requested the appropriate tape from the library.

Overall, the Qualstar TLS-4210 is an excellent solution for any shop that needs to keep multiple tapes and backups on hand.

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Copyright © 2010-2011 Eric A. Hall.
Portions copyright © 1997 InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. Used with permission.
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