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DLT tape drive cleaning - how often?

Posted on 2010-11-29
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hi All,

What's a recommended frequency for using the cleaning tape in a Quantum DLT drive?
Quantum says "when the indicator light is flashing," but our unit doesn't have one.

Thanks,

Theo
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Question by:Theodosios
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by:qbakies
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I run my cleaning tape twice a week.  
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by:andyalder
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You might as well sandpaper the head down as run a cleaning tape through it twice per week. If your drive doesn't have a "clean me" light then it will indicate the need for cleaning in other ways, e.g. by failing to backup or spitting tapes out. So I would clean it each time the backup fails. You can probably monitor the number of soft and hard errors with your backup software as well, if you have time to check the error count daily you'll soon notice any dodgy tapes or a progressive deterioration.

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by:andyalder
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Oh, and a DLT cleaning tape has 30 inserts until it reaches the end if I remember correctly, so I wouldn't worry too much about wearing the drive out with it if you've only got one, you can't hurt the head by putting an expired cleaning tape in the drive, it'll just spit it straight out again.
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by:MojoTech
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If you have no indicator light then once every 2 months would be about right assuming you run 1 tape for your backup per day.
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TapeDude earned 84 total points
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I'm a little surprised your unit doesn't have a cleaning light. What model is it?

As for the frequency of running a cleaning tape... a lot depends on the environment. You'll need to run it more often in a hot, humid or dirty environment, and with very new or very old tapes. I was running a duplication job with 8 banks of 4 drives, and in the end got the best results cleaning the drives every twelve tapes. This may seem a lot, but any less than this and I started getting a lot of shoe shining. A good rule of thumb is to run a cleaning tape if you hear the drive doing this ('shoe-shining' is when the drive runs the tape forwards and backwards repeatedly over the same section of tape) more than once every couple of minutes - it's an indication that the drive is having a hard time getting the data down in one pass.
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 83 total points
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Once every 12 tapes is very excessive from my experience tapedude, I'd guess you were just one the edge of not being able to feed it fast enough anyway. Or, as you suggest, in an environment no really suitable to use a tape drive in.
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by:Theodosios
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It's a Quantum Ultrium LTO2.  It only has lights for Power, Activity, Error, and Status.

Thanks,

Theo
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by:MojoTech
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Does this mean anything to you?

The IBM drive determines when a drive needs to be cleaned. If cleaning is required, a “C” will display in the single character display area and the status light will
turn off. The Imation LTO Ultrium Universal Cleaning Cartridge will provide up to 50 cleanings per cartridge, as specified by the drive.

Taken from

http://www.imation.com/PageFiles/273/lto_ultrium_universal_cleaning_cartridge.pdf
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by:Theodosios
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Actually, there's no display area at all, just those 4 LED lights.

Thanks,

Theo
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by:MojoTech
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Maybe there is a light combo you need to look out for? all lights on for example? also does this device have a network port and maybe a web interface? where you could pull info from?
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by:Theodosios
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Not sure, I inherited this device, can't find the documentation anywhere.  

I'm just going to stick with once a month cleaning, and if backups start to fail, I'll do it then as well.

Thanks,

Theo
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