Tape drive to read old DLT tapes needed

Posted on 2009-02-23
Last Modified: 2013-12-01
We have some old DLT tapes going back a few years which we need to recover some data from. I have an old DLT drive which can back up tapes to 40/80Gb but it seems to be on its last legs. Every time I try cataloging with Symantecs Backup Exec v11 it gets so far then gives me media errors.
I dont know if its the tapes or the drive. The reason we upgraded to an LTO drive was because the backups kept failing on the old drive anyway.

I have looked at a DLT VS160 whic claims to read DLT 1 tapes.

Can anyone verify that this drive can read tapes backed up with veritas backup exec on 20/40, 35/70 and 40/80Gb tapes? I dont really want to look a plonker to my boss after I have spent £350 of our budget!
Question by:DGIUK
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    by:Ned Ramsay
    Before condemming the old drive, usually when restoring you can choose what block size the tapes were backed up with. If you set the wrong block size it will generate media errors.
    Additionally, depending on the atmosphere the tapes have been stored in it is highly possible they are completely corrupted.
    LVL 12

    Expert Comment

    If you're managing to read the old tapes 'so far' before getting media errors, it won't be anything to do with the block size.

    VS160 drives will read DLT 1 (ie, VS80) 40/80Gb tapes, but definitely not 20/40.

    Have you tried running a cleaning tape through the current drive a couple of times?

    If the tapes are more than 10 years old, or if they have been stored in adverse conditions, then the magnetic signal on the tapes may have started to fade, but it's just as likely to be a problem with your drive or your drive's heads.
    LVL 55

    Expert Comment

    You're in UK, replaced the head on ours at a reasonable price, I dare say there are loads of other companies about that will repair the drive for you.

    If you only want to read the current tapes and then are finished with them I dare say it would be cheaper to rent one - for example.
    LVL 20

    Accepted Solution


    I worked years ago with a hospital that had had a server failure.  They went to their backup tapes, read failed, so they put the second generation full backup tape in, it failed too.  They tried their last remaining full backup, and it failed.

    Turns out that the tapes were fine, the drive was bad.  But the drive was so bad that trying to read the tapes corrupted the media... and they lost everything (I don't remember the exact failure mode, whether it was physical or electrical).

    You're under pressure when doing a restore; take things slow in spite of that, make sure you know what you're doing, and why.  ANALYZE FAILURES CAREFULLY.

    Renting a DLT drive is probably your best bet.

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