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Looking for sealed LTO tape cleanroom cabinet

Level 4

Although LTO is still a viable onsite backup technology, there is a huge problem with all of the hardware... it has the same micron precision requirements as the heads and platters in a mechanical hard disk drive, yet it is not at all sealed against dust intrusion.

Virtually every standalone LTO tape drive or automatic robotic library I have ever seen does not has even the most basic of dust filtration on the air intake vents, but instead sucks raw unfiltered air straight through the library and through the tape drive.

If you want LTO hardware to last, you have to ensure that the air passing through the drive/library is as clean as it can possibly be. Probably absolute cleanliness is preferred, and you should be working around the tape drive in one of those clean room bunny suits.

I can't afford to set up a clean room, so it seems the next best option is a sort of mini-cleanroom for the drive or library itself.

So far I am not having any luck finding this, and it seems like I may be forced to build it myself:

  • Full-size server rack enclosure, 3U, 6U, or 12U
  • Rigid feet or casters on enclosure
  • Completely sealed cabinet with gasketed, windowed doors on front and back
  • Rear has a power strip and multiple configurable faceplates for airtight sealed, pass through SAS / fiber / copper ethernet connectors.
  • As on a hard disk drive, breather hole on cabinet with HEPA filter on it, to allow for atmospheric pressure changes, and "breathing" of cabinet due to heating and cooling
  • As on a hard disk drive, internal recirculation fan and HEPA filter to remove dust when the cabinet doors have been opened for access or maintenance. Recirculation fan turns off when doors are open to prevent pulling dust into enclosure.
  • Air-to-air heat exchanger with up to 250 watts cooling capacity, to remove equipment heat from inside the cabinet. Can be peltier plate or use minature fluorocarbon-based refrigeration.
  • Cooling system is expandable in 250 watt increments, up to 1000 watts, installing additional air-to-air coolers in parallel for more heat removal capacity.



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You don't get a rack dedicated for tapes. You'd have to build it yourself, or look at a company that does offsite storage of tapes.

I am thinking it would probably be best to start with some company's existing open-frame steel server rack on casters, and then from there, work on fabricating a plywood cabinet to go around it. That way I don't need to worry about any of the core structural rigidity, strength, or rack unit dimensioning issues.

For example...

Trip-Lite - SmartRack 12U Standard-Depth 4-Post Open Frame Rack