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StarWind Virtual Tape Library

Virtual Tape Library

Value Proposition

For SMB and Enterprises, who either look to get rid of backup tapes completely, or are willing to accelerate backup process and add an extra level of protection, our solution is StarWind Virtual Tape Library (VTL). It is an appliance that eliminates the need in physical tape and “pretends” to be a supported tape drive or autoloader, keeping all data on inexpensive, fast and high-capacity spinning disks.

Even with explosive data growth, StarWind VTL fits the backup into backup window by accelerating it, so the process does not overlap with production time. Optionally, it creates additional copy of backup data for better safety. It is also available in a software-only form, as part of StarWind VSAN functionality.

StarWind VTL targets those, who need to replace existing tape backup infrastructure or accelerate it if regulatory requirements prohibit replacement. In case the goal is just virtualizing tape backup or creating a stretched backup infrastructure, StarWind Tape Redirector will come in handy.


Unlike similar appliances, StarWind VTL offers flexibility, allowing the customer two options to choose from: a full-fledged hardware appliance or a software version, which is essentially part of StarWind Virtual SAN and runs on customer’s existing hardware. The customer can take the software, commodity server of choice new or repurposed, put as many spindles in as needed, throw in spare Windows Server license or a free Hyper-V Server and have a full-blown VTL appliance. StarWind VTL licenses are perpetual and capacity-unlimited.

Unlike VTL drivers that only work on the same hardware simultaneously with the backup application, StarWind VTL works over iSCSI. The physical or virtual VTL appliance and actual tape backup application can be located miles away from each other. Client OS is irrelevant – only iSCSI initiator is required on the client and any incompatibilities are removed with virtualization means.

Unlike open-source VTL, StarWind offers support with SLAs behind every hardware and software product. All code is in-house developed, using our at least 10-year matured codebase. Having gone through countless tests, it is proven to work, is obviously less error-prone and does exactly what it was designed for.


Exceptional Simplicity

StarWind Virtual Tape Library is as easy to manage as “just a bunch of disks” it is. A typical system administrator who deals with backup will install, configure and run it in a matter of minutes. StarWind VTL seamlessly integrates into existing infrastructure due to the ability to emulate most libraries and drives from leading vendors.      

Low Cost

StarWind VTL can replace the whole tape backup infrastructure, allowing to get rid of all the bulky and expensive equipment. It has minimalistic hardware footprint and uses commodity servers and high-capacity disks instead of tapes, drives and autoloaders. There are no associated costs or additional hardware requirements.    

High Performance

StarWind VTL accelerates backup, using fast hard disks to emulate slower tapes. It utilizes multi-tiered RAM and flash caching and data deduplication for exceptional performance, unachievable not only by tape hardware, but also by most of the similar solutions that use HDD.



Being a backup storage, StarWind VTL still benefits from the concept of hyperconvergence to some extent, taking into account that aggregating backup data and main data is unreasonable. It runs backup applications, antivirus and other software required by the user as virtual machines, Windows Services or containers. As a result, it offloads all this workload from main production deployment and boost performance, because data is processed where it dwells with minimum path.

Converged (“Compute and Storage separated”)

StarWind VTL is a backup storage, and backup data is of best use when segregated from main data. That is why it works best in “classic” converged (“compute and storage separated”) scenario, on a separate set of hardware. StarWind VTL easily integrates into any existing virtualization infrastructure, because it uses industry-standard iSCSI uplink protocol.

Unified Storage (Multiprotocol)

StarWind VTL works over iSCSI, allowing the use of commodity Ethernet to transfer backup data from the main servers to backup site. Taking into account the fact that most virtualized environments support iSCSI to some extent, this makes StarWind Virtual Tape Library a versatile solution. In addition, thanks to the supported protocols, the DR site may be geographically remote, making it even more reliable.

VM-Centric Storage and StarWind Log-Structured File System (LSFS)

StarWind VTL uses Log-Structured File System to accelerate backup in virtualization environment. It aggregates small random writes in big sequential pages, making better use of HDD and avoiding performance issues typically associated with virtualization. With higher performance of virtualization environment, backup becomes even faster, especially since data in RAM and flash caches is also Log-Structured.

Server-Side Cache

StarWind VTL utilizes multi-tiered RAM and flash caches to accelerate backup and fit it into backup window. This way it avoids the overlap with production time and the consequent drop in performance caused by simultaneous production and backup workload. Using inexpensive conventional RAM, SATA SSD, MLC flash or so for caching, it allows to have bigger caches for the same money. StarWind VTL keeps backup performance exceptionally high, easily fitting it into backup window and avoiding overlapping with production time.

Fault Tolerance and High Availability

StarWind Virtual Tape Library is a backup solution, so it basically does multiple copies of backup data. Thus, it utilizes redundancy, providing the ability to recover at any moment without the need for any synchronous replication or high-availability. In case the main site fails, there is backup, in case DR site fails, there is the main site to resubmit the missing backup data, so the possibility of complete failure beyond recovery is little to none.

Scale-up and Scale-out

StarWind VTL scales to meet task demands with constantly growing backup data. Capacity can be increased by either throwing more spindles into the existing storage node or adding new ready-nodes. Virtual Tape Library comes in three models of different base capacity: S, L and XL. It’s not necessary to match them, any model can be added for scaling to any existing model set.

Hardware Agnostic and Commodity Hardware

StarWind VTL uses commodity servers and faster and cheaper high-capacity HDD to emulate traditional tape hardware: drives, libraries and autoloaders. It easily scales with the same commodity components to meet backup requirements. In case the hardware suffers irreparable failure, the software part can be easily transferred to a new compatible setup.

Asynchronous Replication

StarWind VTL is specialized on working with asynchronous replication, being a virtual tape backup solution. The software version can be utilized for this purpose even without a remote DR site, using Azure public or private cloud with enabled “geo-clustering”. StarWind VTL deployed in Azure will make a perfect off-site storage for backup data without having to disrupt backup infrastructure.

Snapshots and Automated Storage Tiering

StarWind VTL works directly with snapshots employing D2D and D2D2T backup strategies. The former is used when the actual tape hardware is no longer needed and snapshots can go directly to VTL. The latter case utilizes VTL as a fast intermediate, creating an extra copy of snapshots and writing it to physical tapes in background mode. As a result, StarWind VTL helps adhere to the 3-2-1 backup rule: 3 copies of data in 2 formats and 1 on a remote site.

Deduplication and Compression

StarWind VTL uses data deduplication to reduce space usage, conserve disk capacity and consequently reduce the cost of backup solution. It fully supports Microsoft Windows deduplication engine and StarWind Virtual SAN own space reduction technologies. Apart from capacity savings, these technologies also give a boost in performance, reducing the amount of data required for transfer.

Virtual Storage Appliance

For fast evaluation, VTL is available as a plugin of StarWind Virtual SAN version that is deployed from a pre-configured VMware or Hyper-V compatible VM appliance. In case there is an existing set of suitable hardware, testing the capabilities of StarWind Virtual Tape Library will take little to no time.

Virtual Tape Library (VTL)

Improving the existing tape backup infrastructure, creating a new one from scratch, preserving physical tape hardware or getting rid of it – StarWind Virtual Tape Library is the right tool for the job. It offers benefits in all the mentioned cases, accelerating backup speed or creating additional backup data copies.

VTL Models

Virtual Tape Library is designed in 3 models to meet specific needs of different business sizes.

VTL Model S

StarWind Virtual Tape Library Model S

With effective capacity of 320 TB (raw capacity – 32 TB), StarWind Virtual Tape Library Model S is designed for minimalistic tape backup deployments and takes less physical space than other models.

VTL Model L

StarWind Virtual Tape Library Model L

The model offers 640 TB effective capacity (raw capacity – 64 TB), StarWind VTL Model L is purpose-built for regular backup workloads of Small and Middle Businesses and Remote and Branch Offices. VTL Model XL

StarWind Virtual Tape Library Model XL

The largest available appliance with 960 TB effective capacity (raw capacity – 96 TB), StarWind VTL Model XL offers redundancy even to Enterprise-size backup deployments, handling a strict backup policy. 

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