What Color is My LTO Tape?

One of my more popular articles, reposted on 9-14-13:

lto tape colorsSome of my technical cohorts and I were having a discussion as to whether you could tell what type of LTO tape you were holding by the color of the tape case.

After a quick google search (search: color lto tape), it turns out this is generally true. Each LTO tape type pretty much has a standard color but some manufacturers play games with the colors or just use a different color altogether.

Here’s what the tape drive colors seem to be and where certain tape manufacturers break with the standard.

  • LTO 1 – Black except that HP uses blue
  • LTO 2 – Purple except that HP uses Dark Red
  • LTO 3 – This is the one where standardized colors went right out the window, with most vendors using variations of blue, gray, blue-grey, or slate blue (looking at you, Fujifilm). And of course, that loveable rebel HP choose yellow for its LTO 3 cartridge color.
  • LTO 4 – This is where the great Teal versus Green schism started. Most vendors use Teal or Green for LTO 4, except for TDK who went rogue on this one with a blue-green (bad boy).
  • LTO 5 – Dark red or burgundy (burgundy only available from IBM). And of course, HP chose light blue.
  • LTO 6 – Everyone went black on this one except for you guessed it, HP who decided that it was time go with that purple cartridge they skipped for LTO 2 (never too late to catch up, I suppose).

Wikipedia has a nice table detailing LTO cartridge colors from all the major vendors (including HP) on their Linear Tape-Open article. So check out Wikipedia to get your fix for which color each LTO tape cartridge should be.

Of course, if you’re really interested in what LTO type a particular cartridge is, you could just pick up the tape and see what number is on it. But the color chart is convenient for spotting what type of tape you’re using without actually having to handle it.


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About Joe Hertvik

Joe is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company providing written white papers, case studies, and other marketing content to computer industry companies. He is also a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column for the past ten years. Follow Joe Hertvik on Twitter @JoeHertvik. Email Joe for a free quote on white papers, case studies, brochures, or other marketing materials.
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5 Responses to What Color is My LTO Tape?

  1. mikejohnson says:

    i was collecting data for LTO Tapes, this great post hepled me alot, increasing my knowledge regarding LTO Backup Tapes.

  2. mikejohnson says:

    Hp lto4 tapes are Ultrium tape technology has been designed to offer outstanding reliability and generally high-class performance with very economical/GB data storage.

  3. mike johnson says:

    Every ibm lto-4 is included with an LTO Cartridge Memory (LTO-CM) Chip, which specially designed to enable secure and reliable fast transfer of cartridge dependent data with Ultrium 4 tape drives during very fast and intense load and loading process.

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