How It Works

How Tape Migration Works: Steps, Benefits, and Considerations

Tape migration can be a major undertaking. Handling the project internally diverts significant resources from your team, and a professional tape migration partner can help your enterprise handle tape conversion securely and efficiently.

To understand the benefits of professional tape migration, it’s helpful to take an overhead view of what the project entails. Tape migration densities increase with every new generation (the current-generation Linear Tape Open format, LTO-9, supports compressed capacities of up to 45 terabytes).

New tape technologies like Linear Tape File System (LTFS) can increase data access times significantly, allowing for near-instant access to individual files. Migrating to a newer format can result in tremendous savings for an enterprise — but the project requires a dedicated approach.


Common Issues That Affect Tape Cartridge Migration Projects Include:

  • Outdated backup software or file formats. Your enterprise will need to retain licenses for legacy backup software during migration, which adds to the cost of the project. If legacy software is not compatible with your current backup or archival policy, the data will need to be converted.
  • Damaged or incomplete archives. Many enterprises become aware of data loss issues when beginning migration projects; rebuilding incomplete sets of data can be time consuming, particularly for IT staff who have limited experience with tape restoration.
  • Hardware limitations. Older tape drives may not be functional, and replacing legacy hardware can be extremely expensive.
  • Personnel limitations. Your IT staff may not have the time to manage tape migration. By taking on the project, they may not be able to address other issues, and the cost of IT staff labor can add up.
  • Compliance considerations. Assigning migration duties to untrained personnel can create serious security vulnerabilities. If data cartridges need to be securely destroyed, employees will need significant training, and tapes will need to be tested to ensure conformance and/or compliance.

Total Data Migration provides an array of professional tape services that can reduce the cost of data cartridge migration. Our secure process allows your team to remain focused on other IT tasks and ensures reliable access to your data. Below, we’ll explain the process in detail; if you’re currently planning a tape migration project, reach out to our team for a free consultation.

Data Tape Migration Begins with a Consultation

Planning a major migration takes time, a sizable monetary investment, and significant manpower. Many projects encounter issues at scale, which can make budgeting and planning difficult.

Working with an experienced tape migration partner helps to keep the project within a defined scope and ensures the best possible return on investment. Total Data Migration’s experts have decades of experience with dozens of data tape formats, and we work closely with clients to keep projects on track. By prioritizing security and testing all tape media thoroughly, we’re able to provide consistent ROIs for migration projects of all sizes.


No two tape migration projects are identical, but we utilize a flexible approach in order to address the needs of different enterprises.

Here’s how the process works:


A Consultation Establishes Your Goals For Tape Migration

Your goals for your tape migration project will affect our team’s approach. Total Data Migration’s specialists assess the features of your current archives (or backups), along with your existing IT infrastructure, security protocols, and various other factors.

During your consultation, we’ll collect information about:

  • The format of the source media
  • The number of tapes and sets
  • Whether archives are encrypted (and if so, the type of encryption used)
  • The file systems of the source and destination media
  • Backup/archive software name and version

By working closely with your team, we’re able to design tailored solutions with clear timeframes and accurate cost estimates.

We Analyze Factors That Could Affect Tape Migration And Generate A Statement Of Work

The statement of work includes a cost estimate, turnaround time frame, and an analysis of any factors that could affect the project outcome. For instance, if some tape cartridges may require repair or conversion, we provide that information in our statement.

Each statement of work includes a high-level workflow, which your IT team can use to plan effectively. If the project goals change, you can make comments to guide the process; our team waits for Statement of Work approval before proceeding.

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After Receiving Confirmation, We Receive Your Media

We coordinate shipments to our data center, ensuring that your media can be processed, indexed, and cataloged in an efficient manner.

Total Data Migration can provide expert guidance for shipping media securely and safely. However, if services need to be performed onsite, our team will remain in close contact with your system administrator to keep the project on a well-defined schedule.

Our Team Migrates Tapes To The Chosen Format

Where necessary, data is converted to ensure functionality within your enterprise’s IT infrastructure. Our data center supports over 3,500 combinations of backup tape media, formats, and environments.

We provide thorough documentation after conversion, which includes details about our workflow, media testing analyses, a chain of custody report (where applicable), and other crucial information.

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Finding a Qualified Tape Migration Partner

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An experienced tape migration partner can help you keep your project within a defined scope, limiting the total cost of tape migration. When researching data migration companies, ask questions; determine whether the firm has relevant experience with similar projects, and when in doubt, ask for references.

Questions to keep in mind:

  • Does the tape migration company have sufficient on-site hardware to handle the request within the planned time frame?
  • Will the tape migration company perform data conversion as needed, and do they have familiarity with your legacy backup software?
  • Can the tape migration firm provide a chain of custody or other necessary documentation for retainment and compliance?
  • Will the firm provide a statement of work to help system administrators plan effectively?

Total Data Migration maintains an extensive hardware library with both current-generation and legacy tape drives. We regularly work with law firms, healthcare providers, and other clients that require strict security considerations, and we perform all migration procedures in closed-network facilities while maintaining accurate chain-of-custody reports. We also offer on-site tape migration globally, and all services feature our satisfaction guarantee.

If you’re planning a tape migration project, our team can help. Contact us at (800) 460-7599 to schedule a free consultation or click here for email contact info.

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Any Tape, Any Time, Any Where

high roi

High ROI

TDM has extensive knowledge of migrating data and voice tape to new environments efficiently, safely, and securely.


Global Mobility

Total Data Migration provides the unique ability to go on-site anywhere in the world utilizing our mobile, portable on-site systems.

satisfaction guaranteed

Satisfaction Guaranteed

No matter the budget, we pride ourselves on providing professional customer service. We guarantee you will be satisfied with our work.