Here's why most DATs fail in autoloaders:

Most people buy DAT loaders to compensate for the low capacity per tape.
The idea is to have the tapes changed automatically in the night or over a
weekend.  None of us are thrilled with the idea of having to come into the
office on our personal time to play tape monkey, so this thinking is very

What most people do not know is the 4mm mechanism has the lowest head rating
of 4mm, DLT and 8mm (AIT/M2) technologies (1/5th the head life of AIT).  Now
that you have a DAT changer automatically handling tape swaps, you're making
the head unit work longer than it was originally designed to handle.  No DAT
manufacturer has a special "library" version of their DAT drive with longer
head ratings.

Instead of people using their drives for a couple hours per night, they are
now using them up to 5-10x longer.  End result?  You burn through the heads
'quicker'.  Most guys I know with DAT loaders burn the heads up within a
year (your mileage will vary).  This is like a volkswagon trying to haul a
loaded 18 wheeler rig.  In time, you're going to burn-up the engine or the

AIT has 5x the head life of a DAT.  Using the same formula, one would
theoretically get five years of backup before the heads went south for the
winter.  Yet, AIT certainly doesn't have 5x the price tag.  A fifteen tape
library with an AIT-1 drive costs less than $4,250.00 with Retrospect
included.  That's 525GB uncompressed with the higher head rating and
self-cleaning feature.

Here's another newsflash.  AIT-3 is due out next year.  This will drive down
the price of AIT-1 even further.  Because of this, DDS-5 looks like it may
not be released after all.  In other words, eventually, new DDS units will
go the way of the dino.

The above is based on over ten years of personal experience with storage
devices.  I invite all comments via e-mail.


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