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How can you recover data off of a tape backup?

We used to use Veritas with a Dell LTO tape drive system for backups. About half-a-year ago
backups start failing their assigned jobs. At first it was one tape but then that increased to almost all the tapes. We tried to use new ones but to no avail.

Later it was discovered that the problem was caused by a hardware issue as the SCSI controller card that was used to connect the tape drive to the server as it abruptly stopped working.

In full circulation with full backups as well as differentials, there are around 40-50 tapes. They used to be manually (paper & pen) cataloged and tracked (i.e. which tapes went with which what jobs) but all that paperwork is useless now as too many jobs failed. Also, the server that Veritas used to be installed on has been wiped so all traces of the jobs are wiped.

So in a nutshell I have a whole stack of tapes that are all mixed up...some have data, some have corrupt data, some have partial data, and most were the result of failed jobs.

I've been assigned the task to see if data can be recovered from the tapes. I've never really dealt with tape backups to a large extent so I don't know how the technology cataloged or indexed the data.

1) Is this something where if Veritas was reinstalled on a new machine and a SCSI controller was purchased, would Veritas be able to figure out which tapes went to which jobs just by putting each tape in the deck (I doubt it)?

2) Is this something where because the original Veritas installation was wiped, that nothing can be retrieved from the tapes? (I think this is the most probable answer)

3) Is there some service company that can sort all of this out if I just sent them all of the tapes? (Any suggested companies would be appreciated if this is possible)

Yeah we don't use tape backups here anymore. But if anyone could enlighten me as to how tapes work and what is needed in order for data extraction (if possible), it would be very helpful.

Thanks
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pjam
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You are saying Veritas, but symantec bought BackupExec from Veritas years ago.  So if the version you have is Veritas I doubt anyone can help.
Please inform others what kind of LTO tape drive you have and what version of BackupExec.  That should help immensely.
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Nanosupport

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Sorry, yes it was Veritas BackupExec v9.1.
LTO 1 Ultrium 1
PowerVault 122T LTO Autoloader
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My google search of companues that can handle this either have no pricing or prices upwards of $500 per tape. It is the going rate for something like this? It isn't a crashed HDD recovery. The tapes still work, it's just our hardware that is broken and some of the data on some tapes might be corrupt or invalid.
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I am currently unable to check the tapes because the SCSI controller which connected the Dell tape drive to our server is broken. But I think you've answered my questions. First would be to get a controller and/or tape drive and get it connected. Next check the takes to see if there is any data that is recoverable from it.
Exactly.  Good luck!
$500 per tape is exorbitant. Try these guys:

    http://www.tape-catalog.co.uk

I know for a fact they did a remarkably similar job just before Christmas (sorting & cataloging 200 x LTO 2 Backup Exec 9.1) for a lot less money per tape... disclosure: I work for them ;-)

But if you want to have a go yourself, I'm not sure how useful looking at the tapes under linux is going to be. Yes, it allows you to read tapes raw, but unless you have considerable experience looking at hex dumps you probably won't be any the wiser. Backup Exec uses MTF, which is a published format, but AFAIK there aren't any really decent tools in the public domain for examining & extracting the data once it's off tape. We had to write our own. If you fancy doing this yourself you can grab a copy of the MTF spec here:

   http://www.aldownloading.com/manuals/mtf100b.doc

It's fairly well written for a Microsoft document... but then they outsourced the format's development ;-)

The cheapest option for you (assuming no staffing costs) would be to resurrect the backup environment (ie, get a working BE 9.1 system up and running), then inventory the tapes, then catalog them. It's tedious but it's not rocket science. The job we did recently took around a week, with 4 LTO 3 tape drives running fairly long shifts.

One thing to look out for is that BE 9.1 has a 'feature' whereby the software will catalog a tape using the (faster) 'media based catalogs' option, but then not show the results in the restore window. You then have to re-catalog those particular tapes after disabling the 'media based catalogs' option, which is much slower.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck, and happy holidays to you  :-)