NTBACKUP errors with HP DLT Vs80i tape drive

we currently use a HP DLT Vs80i tape drive with NTBACKUP (via batch script and AT command scheduler) to backup up approximatley 31.5Gb of data via a 10BaseT network with all the servers on a 100BaseT backbone. There are 9 DLT tapes used for daily backups. The details of the setup are below

Windows NT4server SP6a.
Adaptec 29160 Ultra 3 SCSI card (recommended by HP)
HP Vs80i DLT tape drive
HP branded DLT tapes

The backups script is of the format below:

ntbackup backup G: H: /d"Accounts" /hc:on /t normal /l "c:\Accounts.txt" /e

ntbackup backup "F:\sales /a /d"Sales" /hc:on /t normal /l "c:\Shares.txt" /e

ntbackup backup I: /a /d"Marketing" /hc:on /t normal /l "c:\Marketing.txt" /e

The mapped drives point at network shares.  This was working o.k for about six months when it started showing "Bad Blocks on Tape\0" errors on the Windows NT event log (Event ID 7) and the backup failed along with the tape cleaning (amber) light flashing intermittently. I cleaned the tape drive and tried running the backup again only to find it produced the same error. It seems to fail about the same time every night (approx 4 hrs into backup).  I have run all the HP tape tools and diagnostics and they all test the tape and the drive o.k with the correct expected data transfer rates.  I don't beleive that the drive or the tapes are at fault.

I then noticed the following in an HP driver README.TXT

The HP SureStore DLT 70 and 80 tape devices are designed for use in the high performance server environment. In order to realise the full performance of this tape drive it is necessary to use a third party backup application
and not the ntbackup ‘applet’ supplied with the Windows NT operating system. The DLT 70 and 80 tape drives have a higher performance than the ntbackup utility, which can only supply data at 2 MB/s (without data compression). This is insufficient to maintain the HP SureStore DLT 70 or 80 drive in ‘streaming’ mode and will result in frequent stopping and repositioning of the tape.

I phoned HP and they suggested I try a third party backup application to see if that produces errors.  I tried to do this and because the tape was written with windows NTBACKUP the application I was using could not erase it, so I could not do that.  I erased the tape with NTBACKUP and then tried to run the backup script again but it failed part way with "No tape in drive 1" and "Inconsistencies have been found on Drive. Do not append to this tape".  This happens on different tapes and they all pass the HP media validation tests. They are alos only about 3 months old.

I then used an old copy of Ultrabac that we used and it seems to be backing up (a lot faster) and correctly.

I know this is a lot of detail but I would like to get to the bottom of this error rather than just using a third party app.  I have seen various solutions like disabling wide negotiation on the SCSI bus but nothing specific.  Does this mean that I cannot use NTBACKUP with this drive and definetly need a third party app as NTBACKUP cannot provide the tape drive with the data fast enough?

Any assistance or pointers would be much appreciated.

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stevenlewisConnect With a Mentor Commented:
you stated that Ultrabac works, consider switching
to it
If it ain't broke, don't fix it
Not familiar with this, but a couple of generic suggestions to improve performance, first defrag the machines in question (improves read and write performance)
second check netwrok utilization during backup proceedure
third, check virtual memory settings and ensure they are set for optimal performance
and forth, since HP suggests a third party app, and you stated that Ultrabac works, consider switching to it
 I have the same experience with different models of DAT drives (HP, Sony ...).  The last 5 year I tried to make statics about it.
  We see a big difference in life time for internal and external devices.  Further we see full equiped server ( multiple harddisk, cd-rom ....)gives more problems.  The problem popup mostly after a few 100Mb of backing up and on different files.

  The only reason we can see at this moment is a damaging by overheating of the tape and/or devices. All our damaged devices were placed into the upper bay of the servers. We test also with other software ( even Arcserve) but no result.
  When we test the Dat-DLT drives in a seperate cold server there are no problems.  We send the devices to HP for services but after a few weeks after reinstallation the problem started again.

  The last year we are using external DAT drive of HP and till now we see a better result. I'm not already sure because we didn't install enough devices but we follow it up.  

  Suggestion:  Install the internal drive in the lowest bay and leave the next bay free or even install a extra fan in de drive bay under the device for extra cooling.  Maybe you can do the test with a cold server.

Sorry but I think your drive it damaged???

No garantie on my answer. Impression base on +/- 50 installed devices
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Thank you  

"No garantie on my answer"
Then it should be posted as a comment

mleggattAuthor Commented:
HP suggested that I could be backing up corrupt data so I ran a chkdsk on the NT server (on startup) this showed minor corruption on one drive which was fixed but this is not where the backup was failing.

Heat build up could be an anwser as it seems to fail about the same time into the backup.  What I am not clear about is why the backup ran for sixth months and then failed?  maybe the tapes or drive has worn slightly and its been affected.  I had a HP DD3 DAT drive backing this data up using NTBACKUP for over 3 yrs (inherited from previous network admin) with no problems at all. HP does specifify the drive needs so many cubic metres of air per minute to be pulled through the drive to cool it, so maybe this is the reason, but I am not convinced.

I am now using Ultrabac 5.54 to do the backup and it runs correctly except for some cyclic reduncancy checks on some backup files and the usual "tape 0 has bad blocks" on the NT event log.  I am gradually eliminating the possible causes and it is beginning to seem like these drives may have an intrinsic stability problem (NOT GOOD IN A BACKUP SITUATION!!!!)

The backup is running as we speak, so as I see it now if this shows errors and I have done the following:

1.Used a third party App
2.Checked backed up files for corruption
3.Used different tapes
4.Checked the drive and throughput with HP's tools and came out correctly.
5. Obtained latest drivers for SCSI card and tape drive

all that is left is:

1. Overheating.
2. Intrinsic fault in drive.

If there are errors tommorow then I can see me ringing HP and asking for an urgent anwser.
mleggattAuthor Commented:
The Ultrabac software backups up the data butruns with errors and I still get the NT Event log error "Tape 0 has bad blocks".  I beleive the same errors are still there but Ultrabac is more resilient to errors than NTBACKUP is and therefore carries on.

I don't want to just ignore these errors as they obviously mean something is wrong and its sod's law when one of the directors needs a file restored it will be on of their files that has the error.
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