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Size Variation with LTFS Archiving

Recently we received an email from a customer who noticed a slight variation in the reporting of space used for an archive. Below is the question he asked and the answer we sent back. I thought it might help others when trying to fully understand LTFS archiving.

Our customer writes:

… I offloaded 2.20TB (2207.51GB) to the LTO6, the database details tells me it is actually 2.21TB in size, and the CSV report tells me it is 2.19TB used….

Imagine Products Response: 

Several things come into play when you’re talking about file sizes. Bottom line is that it’s not as simple as one might think, and file sizes are not a good indication of data matching.
First, please realize that a tape is NOT a hard disk. While LTFS is a great invention to allow us to “see” the contents represented similarly to what a hard disk might look like to the computer, a tape and a disk are physically different and how they actually store data is quite different.
Also please know that Finder uses Spotlight to index the contents of mounted volumes, and often yields very confusing if not nonsensical results when dealing with large data sets, especially if they’re being browsed or changed. And Spotlight doesn’t work well (or at all) with LTO tapes.
The short explanation is there’s a difference between “size” and “size on disk”.
How-To Geek
Why is There a Big Difference Between ‘Size’ and ‘Size on Disk’?
Most of the time, the values for ‘Size’ and ‘Size on Disk’ will be very close to matching when checking a folder or file’s size, but what if there is a huge discrepancy between the two?
Another thing that comes into play with tapes is the available and consumed space calculations depend upon responses from the deck. In the real world, tape sometimes has bad spots on it and the tape deck is designed to check for those and automatically skip bad sections. When that happens it simply rewrites the file it was working on to the next segment of tape and marks the bad section as deleted. This of course consumes what was thought to be usable space, but the drive doesn’t communicate that to our software so we really only have an approximation of how much data might fit on any given tape. To allow for this tolerance, we give PreRoll Post a cushion of 5% of the reported space–in other words, we won’t let you attempt to add more data to a tape than 95% of it’s reported available space. This reserve is purely to allot for any bad tape sections.
Anyway, more to the point, while hard disk allocated space is in 4KB chunks regardless of the actual data size, tape doesn’t behave in that manner. It is not exFAT formatted. So when you add lots of files (quantity more than overall aggregate size of them matters) this difference accumulates.
With an application like PreRoll Post, we use file copy routines to exactly copy the files and then double check them with checksums (that also test the byte sequences, not just total bytes). So, you can rest assured that the copies are 100% exactly all your data and an exact duplicate of them (regardless of the approximate size calculations).
About PreRoll Post: PreRoll Post is an LTFS archiving application optimized for the media and entertainment industry. PreRoll Post securely archives assets to LTO tapes or ODA cartridges using simple drag and drop functionality as well as checksum technology to ensure archives are 100% accurate. PreRoll Post uses the LTFS open-source so even tapes not created in PreRoll Post can be imported and retrieved (*only those using LTFS). PreRoll Post is compatible with any LTO tape drive as well as Sony’s Optical Disc Archive. For more information visit the Archive Home Page onwww.imagineproducts.com 
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Manual Application Activation – for Firewall or Internet Problems

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.30.43 AM

Sometimes customers run into firewall or internet issues when trying to activate applications. Have no fear! There is a simple manual activation process that I am going to walk you through step by step, right now.

  • In the activation window select Manually Activate (for users with Firewall/Internet problems)
  • The manual activation window will then pop up with three spots for different information; serial number, ID number and personal activation number.

*SIDE NOTE: The ID Number is for that particular computer, this is a great way to keep track of your serial numbers. Create an excel spreadsheet and with the serial number, ID number and application for reference in the future. This is especially important for those that own multiple licenses of the same application.

  • Anyway, back to manual activation! From your phone or a computer that has internet access log into your account on our website. On the My Product page select Manually Activate button for the application you would like to activate.MA-01
  •  On the next page you will see your serial number (product code) at the top and then a place for your ID number (pictured above). In the Manual Activation window in the app, put your serial number in the top spot where it says …. serial number!
  • On the webpage put the ID number in from the application, then select the Activate Now button.
  • The next page will provide you with a personal activation number, put this number in the manual activation window in the personal activation number spot.
  • Select Activate and you are all set!Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 11.09.39 AM

We hope you’ve enjoyed another fascinating (riveting even) and incredibly informative blog from Imagine Products!

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LTO Best Practices Part 2: Advanced LTFS Software Can Be the Key to Success

Before you read this, Read Part One first!

The free software that comes with an LTO tape drive is meant only to get you up and running with LTFS so that you can see the contents of your tape in Finder or Explorer. Free software lets you browse the content, but it doesn’t make the content searchable, it doesn’t guide you through the process, and retrieval is excruciatingly slow.

On the other hand, having software that organizes files are keeps track of their positions on the tape is important for performance. Such software can quickly locate files and put them in a logical sequence for optimum retrieval and restore speeds.

Beyond the performance benefits, paid software can walk you through the whole process in order to optimize the archive for video and avoid the pitfalls mentioned above. The idea is to create a good backup from the beginning to prevent problems down the line.

For instance, some paid software forces uncompressed mode during formatting and also automatically formats the tape to meet Discovery Channel’s file-structure specifications, which seem to be the most stringent in the industry right now.

Paid software also makes it easier when it’s time to copy files onto tape. Remember the rule about illegal characters? Advanced LTFS applications analyze names and flag problems with illegal characters so you can fix them before you start the backup. With certain software, you can even configure it to replace illegal characters automatically during the backup process and then restore those characters when you restore the files. This capability is helpful in cases where it’s important to keep the same file name regardless of illegal characters, such as when linked files are referenced by other media.

Likewise, if the files you’re copying contain references or links, the software checks to see if they are valid. If not, it will flag the problem so that you can address it before starting the backup.

It is helpful to have LTFS software that is video-aware. That is, it always knows the typical video formats, the different types of data coming out of different cameras, and how to break up or keep together different data sets when spanning multiple tapes. Video-aware LTFS software can also extract thumbnails and even play proxies before ever pulling anything off the tape.

Finally, unlike free LTFS software, paid software compares source and copied files and performs checksums on the data, a common and often required practice in the postproduction industry. Checksums provide assurance that the source and copied files match exactly and didn’t get corrupted during the backup process. PreRoll Post takes checksums a step further by calculating a checksum again after the file is restored. This extra checksum calculation helps ensure the file wasn’t corrupted during restoration.

It pays to be organized and judicious about what to back up. Most people back up far more than they can use. For example, it almost never makes sense to back up hidden files because they will be incorrect when restored.

Remember the rule of two: It’s not a true archive without at least two copies of the content – most likely on two or more sets of LTO tapes – stored in two different buildings.

LTO and LTFS create a long-term, reliable, economical storage solution. If you’ve never backed up to LTO before, there is a slight learning curve, but with some common sense, best practices, and the right tools, you can easily set up your archive to deliver worthwhile results down the road … with far more reliability than you would ever get from hard disk.

#archivesecurely

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LTO Best Practices Part 1: You’ve Settled on LTO/LTFS. Now What?

LTO7_giant

Once you’ve decided to create an LTO/LTFS archive, there are some things you need to consider in order to be successful with it. It’s not the same as copying files onto hard disk and sticking it in a storage closet. The mechanics are different, so there are a few more steps, and there are rules associated with LTFS that require some forethought.

One thing to know is that LTO tapes are raw media that do not come formatted, so you have to format them before you can use them. You can format using terminal commands – a cumbersome process that few would undertake – or, when formatting for LTFS, you can do it using LTFS software. After that, any hardware that has LTFS software installed will be able to read the LTO tape. One of the defining characteristics of LTFS is that in the process of formatting, it partitions the tape so that one section stores the actual content and the other section stores an index of metadata. The index allows the tape to be self-describing, which improves archive management. It also helps ensure organizations are compliant with broadcast networks that require indexed tapes.

Another consideration is whether to format the drive in compressed mode, and the short answer is “no.” Operating in compressed mode is useful in the IT industry when backing up things like documents and text files. But in the media industry, where nearly all video files are already compressed into a format that saves space, there’s little to be gained by formatting a tape in compressed mode. In fact, it can slow down the writing and retrieval processes considerably.

Besides formatting considerations, there are rules related to LTFS that affect how you handle your archives. LTFS has its roots in the IT world, where most servers are running UNIX operating systems. In UNIX – and therefore in LTFS – certain characters, such as ampersands and backslashes, are reserved for formatting purposes and are off-limits in folder and file names. For those of us in the video world, who are used to using just about any character we want, those restrictions can cause trouble when setting up an LTFS file structure. That’s why it’s important to know those “illegal” characters and be diligent when naming files. If you use illegal characters, then the archive retrieval process could crash later.

A related issue, and a common stumbling point for most people, is trying to back up files that contain links or references to media that are not part of the backup. Such files can cause restoration to fail because the application is trying to find a file that doesn’t exist. The same thing can happen with files that contain absolute paths, which trace back to a specific point on a hard disk but lead nowhere on a tape.

For more LTO tips and tricks read part two of LTO Best Practices. #archivesecurely

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CineGear 2016 Wrap Up

CineGear 2016 was our first time attending the LA show – and what a treat it was! The weather was nice and hot but the people were completely cool and friendly. You can expect to see us again at CineGear in the future! Check out our impressions of the show and see what we showed – LOTS of new things coming from Imagine Products this summer!CineGear Collage

Let’s start with the picture collage above, this is a great representation what we saw and what we showed at CineGear. Top left corner; ProxyMill 5 is due out this summer and we showed it off at the Tech Awards banquet – that’s right, we think it’s award worthy! Left middle; Dan the demo man talking about ShotPut Pro Windows on the Surface tablet, imagine how much lighter travel can be with ShotPut Pro on a tablet… and now it’s possible! Bottom left corner; we always find a fun place to toast the end of the show and there was plenty to toast at CineGear 2016. Top middle; showing off our new pop up banners! Bottom middle; there were all kinds of neat toys running around the show. We ran into this guy a number of times, can’t wait to see all the footage of the show he got! Right; it was very cool to be on the Paramount lot. It was neat to get a behind the scenes look at all the different aspects of filming on a studio lot.

So what did we show? And who did we see?

SPP5 new LARGE MW-01

ShotPut Pro This offloading application for Windows and Mac users offers security, reliability and continuity when offloading your assets. Offload from multiple locations,to multiple locations with naming conventions as well as checksums. Don’t trust your valuable content to finder or explorer! Learn more here.

HD-VU2 new SMALL transHD-VU2 The perfect companion to ShotPut Pro! HD-VU2 is a native file viewer that instantly plays over 20 camera formats without transcoding. Add LUTs and sync external audio files for a complete quality check. Watch folders enable HD-VU2 to ‘talk’ to ShotPut Pro and pull in clips for viewing. Learn more here.


PM new SMALL trans-01ProxyMill
Transcode clips to shareable or editable files in just one step with ProxyMill. Burn in time code or a watermark as well as color correction for shareable files. Easily up-res to ProRes for editing as well as merge or stitch clips together. You can also make audio-only files for transcripts. Learn more here.

 

PRP new SMALL trans-01PreRoll Post Our LTFS archiving application can work with any LTO drive and Sony’s Optical Disc Archive. Archive your completed projects or dailies with PreRoll Post easily to multiple locations at the same time. Checksums deliver peace of mind that archives are 100% accurate and secure. Learn more here.

 

Roger Mabon stopped by the booth and talked to us about the archiving solution = PreRoll Post + LTO7 mTape. Watch it here!

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CineGear 2016 was a great show! It’s always nice to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and see all the new cameras, lights, gadgets and toys.

See you at CineGear 2017!

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FAQ: Fixes for Slow Verification Speed with PreRoll Post Windows

PRP new SMALL-01
Are you archiving with PreRoll Post Windows and feel like your verification speeds are too slow? Here are some helpful tips on how you might be able to increase verification time.
Slow verification speed is often caused by another software attempting to access the LTO drive while PreRollPost is doing its verification.  The most likely cause of this is anti-malware software scanning the LTO deck and treating it like a random access hard disk and not a linear tape drive.
To fix this please exclude your tape drive and PreRollPost.exe from the anti malware software.  To do this with the built in windows defender please follow these steps:
1.    In search type in “Windows Defender”
2.    Open the windows defender application
3.    Click settings in the top right hand corner
4.    Click “Add an exclusion” under the Exclusions category
5.    Click exclude a process and type in PreRollPost.exe
This fix should be immediate and can be done while a verification is in progress.
Similar steps may need to be followed if you have additional anti-malware software installed. Archive Securely!
About PreRoll Post: PreRoll Post is an LTFS archiving application optimized for the media and entertainment industry. PreRoll Post securely archives assets to LTO tapes or ODA cartridges using simple drag and drop functionality as well as checksum technology to ensure archives are 100% accurate. PreRoll Post uses the LTFS open-source so even tapes not created in PreRoll Post can be imported and retrieved (*only those using LTFS). PreRoll Post is compatible with any LTO tape drive as well as Sony’s Optical Disc Archive. For more information visit the Archive Home Page on www.imagineproducts.com 
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PreRoll Post: Adding/Removing LTO Tapes or Tape Content

PRP new LARGE all-01

One of the greatest features of PreRoll Post is it’s database. Here you will find every LTO tape ever created in PreRoll Post regardless if the tape is mounted or not. This is incredibly useful when it comes time to retrieve content. But for one reason or another you might need to delete a tape from your database OR add tape that wasn’t created in PreRoll Post to your database. This post will quickly walk you through that process.
To Delete:
Select the tape in the ‘Retrieve’ window and click the delete button on your keyboard, or right mouse click and choose Delete. This doesn’t delete anything from the tape, just your view of it in the Retrieve dialog. (This feature is handy for tapes you’re delivering to clients that you no longer wish to be able to search their contents.)
To Add:
Mount the tape and go to ‘Retrieve’ window. Right click on it and choose IMPORT FILES. That reads the index on the tape and uses it to populate the Retrieve database information.
See! I told you it was easy 🙂 This process can be used in both the Macintosh and Windows version. Thanks for reading, #archivesecurely
About PreRoll Post: PreRoll Post is an LTFS archiving application optimized for the media and entertainment industry. PreRoll Post securely archives assets to LTO tapes or ODA cartridges using simple drag and drop functionality as well as checksum technology to ensure archives are 100% accurate. PreRoll Post uses the LTFS open-source so even tapes not created in PreRoll Post can be imported and retrieved (*only those using LTFS). PreRoll Post is compatible with any LTO tape drive as well as Sony’s Optical Disc Archive. For more information visit the Archive Home Page on www.imagineproducts.com 
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Deactivating and Moving An Application License

One of the most common questions we get everyday is “How can I move my license from my laptop to my desktop?” It’s a fairly simple process if you know what you’re doing and it’s that last part that is so key, if you know what you’re doing. We’ve decided to lay the steps out for you here to increase flexibility and usability for our products because after all, its you the customer that keeps us moving forward in the industry.

Shameless plug: Recently we were notified that we’ve made the shortlist of the “20 Most Promising Solution Providers in 2016” in the Media and Entertainment sector. We’d like to take a minute to thank our loyal customers, making excellent software is all well and good but without you, it would be all for nothing! Thanks for your unwavering faith in us.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.07.43 AMOK let’s get started!

Deleting or removing applications DOES NOT DEACTIVATE them. If you’re trying to move an activated copy of an application from one computer to another you MUST deactivate the registration before removing the application. Deactivate is a function under the application menu, just above Quit inside our Macintosh applications. For Windows applications, the Deactivate function may be found under HELP, ABOUT or FILE menus depending upon the version.

For the Mac applications PreRollPost, ShotPut Pro, ProxyMill, LUT Sync and ShotSum; go to Applications menu and move the application to the Trash.

For ProxyMill, you’ll find a folder named Imagine Products in the Computer Root Hard Disk that contains ffmpeg folders which can also be deleted.

The registration/preferences information for these are stored in the Computer Root Hard Disk’s Library/Application Support/ImagineProducts folder. PreRoll Post also stores it’s database in this directory so you can remove the PrerollPost folder as well, if you wish to permanently delete the database. **Please note to move the database contents from one computer to another you may copy this folder intact.

Please note for PreRoll Post the default location for thumbnails and proxies is in the Application Support area mentioned above. However, the user does have the option to store them elsewhere when setting up the application.

For Windows applications ShotPut Pro and PreRoll Post, simply right-click on the application in the Start menu and choose UNINSTALL. Depending upon your version of Windows you may need to go to Program Manager to Remove the application.

Since Windows applications store information in the Registry you need to run the Uninstall or Remove function provided by the operating system to completely remove these. Just deleting the application does not fully uninstall.
So that’s it! Pretty simple and straightforward once you know the appropriate steps.
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NAB 2016 Wrap Up

welcome-to-las-vegas-1

What a show! I don’t know about all of you, but we had a great time in Vegas this year. Every year gets better and better, there’s no doubt about that but this year surpassed all expectations. We showed more workflow software and met more incredible people than ever before. We showed new software and gave sneak peaks of two MAJOR updates due out this summer. If you were there you know how exciting it was and if you missed it, that’s ok! There are plenty of ways to get caught up. Below is a little taste of what we showed. Stay tuned for our next blog post on NAB 2016 thoughts and impressions.

SPP5 new SMALL mac-01ShotPut Pro This offloading application for Windows and Mac users offers security, reliability and continuity when offloading your assets. Offload from multiple locations,to multiple locations with naming conventions as well as checksums. Don’t trust your valuable content to finder or explorer! Learn more here.

HD-VU2 new SMALL transHD-VU2 The perfect companion to ShotPut Pro! HD-VU2 is a native file viewer that instantly plays over 20 camera formats without transcoding. Add LUTs and sync external audio files for a complete quality check. Watch folders enable HD-VU2 to ‘talk’ to ShotPut Pro and pull in clips for viewing. Learn more here.


PM new SMALL trans-01ProxyMill
Transcode clips to shareable or editable files in just one step with ProxyMill. Burn in time code or a watermark as well as color correction for shareable files. Easily up-res to ProRes for editing as well as merge or stitch clips together. You can also make audio-only files for transcripts. Learn more here.

 

PRP new SMALL trans-01PreRoll Post Our LTFS archiving application can work with any LTO drive and Sony’s Optical Disc Archive. Archive your completed projects or dailies with PreRoll Post easily to multiple locations at the same time. Checksums deliver peace of mind that archives are 100% accurate and secure. Learn more here.

 

NAB 2016 Pictures

NAB 2016 Collage 1NAB 2016 Collage 2

Look for our next blog; NAB 2016 Thoughts & Impressions COMING SOON!