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How to recover data overwritten on HP LTO-5 tape media with Symantec Backup Exec

Posted on 2014-02-06
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Last Modified: 2014-07-23
Hello All,

I have accidentally overwritten data for a couple of months on an  LTO 5 Ultrium tape media using Symantec Backup Exec. I accidentally run a backup job with a media set that overwrites data that is 3 weeks old on a tape that was originally supposed to store data indefinitely.

Is there any tool, method, or procedure that I can use to get access to the earlier jobs written on the tape before the last job that wrote?

My setup is:
HP Ultrium LT05 Tape Drive
Symantec Backup Exec 2010 R3
Server 2008R2.
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Question by:it_gsr
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by:alexgreen312
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No there isn't, unfortunately you can't scrape a tape to recover old data, couple that with the fact you've already over written it the data is lost and unrecoverable.

Sorry :(
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by:it_gsr
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Hi alexgreen312,

What is your opinion of data recovery services like Krollontrack.com who promise recovery of overwitten data on tape media? Do they actually work?
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alexgreen312 earned 500 total points
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I would suspect the data would be incomplete, because of the way magnetic tape media works it would be extremely hard to get the data back in a consistent state. This also depends on how many times the tapes have been overwritten.

Cost would also be a big factor here, I had to send a hard drive to a recovery company and that cost £1200 for 40GB
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by:it_gsr
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Thanks for sharing the experience alexgreen312.

I will explore that option as a last resort. In the meantime, I will take a look at a couple of tape imaging software (e.g. Kernel for Tape Recovery) to see if there would be any luck.

I will report back with the outcome/s.
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by:it_gsr
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No luck, the tape imaging apps don't even detect the tape drives attached to the media servers.
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by:alexgreen312
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:-(

Sorry, the only option is sending it away and they will quote you depending on how much data they can recover, as I said previously it's not a cheap option by any means.
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by:Steve
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It's true. you are very unlikely to get anything back.

From a pure physics point of view, it is theoretically possible to work out what data may have been stored on magnetic media after it has been overwritten due to various clever factors involved in the magnetic heads/voltages/magical pixies etc.

it is VERY expensive and while it is possible to identify specific 0s & 1s that may have existed in the past, but the chances of finding enough of them in a continuous block to recreate an entire file is very unlikely.

Most data recovery companies rely on the fact that 'overwritten' usually means that only parts of a given file may be missing. This is due to the random nature of how hard drives store data and may leave large portions of old files in place for months/years after it has been 'deleted'.

tapes are not random however, and using the tape again has almost certainly gone over the old data sequentially.

If your budget allows it, send them away and give it a go, but I doubt you would get much back for your money.


a few references for you to have a look at:

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEUQFjAAOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fprivazer.com%2Foverwriting_hard_drive_data.The_great_controversy.pdf&ei=F0EgU-GiFcGI7AaysoGABg&usg=AFQjCNG3-6QQaLJodmVMIqpCiyxC5Y6a1A

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/impossible-recover-data-overwritten-hard-drive-technology-explained/
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