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AIT1 Sony SDX1-35C tape restores

Posted on 2008-10-18
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I have about 211 AIT1 Sony SDX1-35C tapes that were backed up to using Backup Exec around 2001.  My only task is to create a directory report of data written to each tape. I do not currently have a backup library/autoloader.  Can anyone help me out with the questions below.

1.) Can anyone recommend and good AIT3, 2 or 1 autoloader/tape library? Ideally I would like to have say an AIT3 that is backward compatible to AIT1 media? I am thinking SCSI of course.

2.) Although the backups were written using Backup Exec, I am not sure it will create a directory report of the tapes contents after a catalog operation. I don't want to restore all the data to filesystem in order to create a directory report.  Does anyone know of a piece of software, that will of course work with the library/auto loader from question 1.) that will catalog the tape contents and provide a report?

Thanks so much for any response.

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Question by:ryanrupert
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by:TapeDude
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I don't know of any software under windows that will do this.

However, Backup Exec uses Microsoft Tape Format (MTF),  which is a published standard, so there's no reason why you can't write a utility to do it yourself. And there's a linux program (http://laytongraphics.com/mtf/) that purports to read MTF. It's open source, so even if it doesn't do exactly what you want you could probably hack it into shape to suit your purposes.

The MTF document is fairly straightforward to follow and the format is reasonably easy to implement - I know this because I recently had to write a utility from scratch for my company to catalogue 1700 Backup Exec tapes for a client.

Man, that was a tedious job. Just inventorying them took days  : )
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by:ryanrupert
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Hello TapeDude, are you willing to share/sell the utility you wrote.  I do not have the development resources in house to write a utillity?  I have development resources but none that will be able to tackle this project in the timeline that I require.
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by:TapeDude
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I'm afraid we don't normally sell these programs, because using them in a service capacity is the core of the business.

What is your timeline, incidently?
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by:dovidmichel
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If all you need to do is catalog the tapes then why not just get a stand alone tape drive instead of the extra cost of a library.

Backup Exec should be able to do what you want.

From the Backup Exec documentation.

What is a Catalog?
When you catalog a tape, Backup Exec reads the header information from the tape and stores it in a file on the hard drive.
The information contained in the catalog includes, but is not limited to:
Tape number/label/name (something to identify that tape from all others)
Date and time of the backup
Type of backup
What directories/files were backed up

To Catalog a tape:

1. Click on the tape drive/robotic library
2. Select the tape from the right pane
3. Right-click the tape and select Catalog
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by:TapeDude
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++ on just getting a stand-alone drive - unless you're going to buy another drive for backup, and you think you need a library.

I personally am not a big fan of AIT - I don't know if it uses an identical 8mm mechanism to the old Exabyte 8mm, but it certainly shares a similar propensity to 'eat' tapes. Sony have abandoned the old mechanism for their latest generation of drives, which means i) you can't read the old tapes anymore, and ii) they obviously didn't think much of the format either.

If you need to access the old AIT-1 tapes sporadically, I would buy a working old AIT-1 drive off eBay and keep it in storage and use it as required. If you need to do regular backups and you want to go to tape buy an LTO - they're fast, have a much simpler (read: more reliable) tape path, and are an open standard so there is lots of choice.

As for using BackupExec to catalog the tapes, it will of course do this; but AFAIK, there's no easy way of finding out the catalogue's contents apart from using BE's restore browser, which, for 211 tapes, would be a royal PITA. The xml file produced during the cataloguing doesn't contain any of the nitty gritty details (file names, sizes, times, & dates).

You can use the 'search catalogs' tool from the Edit menu, but it doesn't allow you to save what you find - only select them for restore.

I'm assuming what you want is a nice text file containing a list of all the files on any particular tape, with dates, times, sizes etc.

BackupExec does use MS SQL to administrate the files database though, so if you have any expertise with that package you may be able to investigate BE's schema and produce reports with the info you need.

Otherwise, you can send the tapes to a bureau (like mine) to do the dirty work for you...
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by:ryanrupert
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Timeline is as soon say in the next 2 weeks, to at least be well underway with the catalogue operation. The reason I want a library of course is to speed up the job.  Your explanation of Backup Exec is exactly what I was understanding of the situation TapeDude.  I don't know for sure what I am going to do to handle this project yet.
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TapeDude earned 500 total points
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Unless a library has more than one drive in it, it won't make things much faster (though being able to leave the drive unattended overnight, cataloguing 10 tapes, is handy).

A bureau will typically gear up to do a job like this with 3 or 4 drives, and just feed the tapes manually.
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