Can't insert LTO tape

I'm having trouble with my Ultrium LTO4 drive. Basically this - I can no longer insert a tape. I push the cartridge in until it usually 'takes' and pulls the cartridge down and in, but it just stops, doesn't seem to activate any mechanism. The green light that means AOK stays lit throughout - I'm not seeing any of the error codes listed in the manual.

It's just a single drive, not an autoloader. I'm not really well versed in tape drives - I'm using it to back up video files, not daily backups or something like that and I'm not a sysadmin, though I've had no trouble setting it up and using it for about the last year. I've attached serial number information if that's useful.

At a basic level I'm wondering if it smells like a hardware or software problem - is there an issue with my (Dell 5/e) adapter card or is there a mechanical problem with the tape drive? Is it likely worth fixing a drive like this?
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editor_in chiefAsked:
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Justin DurrantSr. Engineer - Windows Server/VirtualizationCommented:
Sounds like a mechanical issue. I Assume you tried another tape? Might be worth switching to something that is non-magnetic media like USB. How much data are you backing up? More details about the server?
rindiCommented:
Have made sure there isn't already another tape stuck in the drive? If not, try opening the case of the drive and cleaning out all the dust. There may be a sensor stuck or covered by dust, so it doesn't recognize it when you try inserting a cartridge.
editor_in chiefAuthor Commented:
jjdurant - not on a server, just a desktop connected SAS to tape drive. the whole point is to have an archival backup other than my raid5, so USB doesn't work. 10+ TB.

rindi - there isn't another tape. I've gently opened and looked around, looks very clean, no obvious obstructions, can't really see what sensor I would clean.

Any way to find out if it's a tape drive problem vs an interface or software problem?
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Justin DurrantSr. Engineer - Windows Server/VirtualizationCommented:
You should be able to to a test\communication check on the drive from your machine to rule out a cable issue.  MIght also want to check with Dell and see if any firmware updates are available. But again, sounds mechanical to me so may just want to replace it. Or look into a cloud based solution like Crashplan or Carbonite.
editor_in chiefAuthor Commented:
I can see the drive in device manager. Have already updated drivers and firmware.

Anybody with experience in repair or troubleshooting tape drives?
rindiCommented:
As I said, cleaning them can often help.
andyalderSaggar maker's framemakerCommented:
You can eliminate software by disconnecting the SAS cable and seeing if it loads (it won't, as previously mentioned it's probably a failed sensor), you can also power it up using a PC power supply to eliminate the PSU in the external case (disconnect the disk if you don't have enough free plugs in the PC, you don't need it to boot to test tape loading).

There's a very slight chance it could be mechanical jam (but it should be flashing an error if it is), you can work the load mechanism backwards and forwards by rotating the loader motor worm gear at the side of the drive.

There are drawings of where the worm gear in the manual at http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=ssg1S1001259 (search for "Rotate the loader motor worm gear").

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Carlos IjalbaIT Systems DirectorCommented:
You can take it to a technical service to have a repair price first, and then decide if it's better to repair or to buy a newer tape drive.

LTO6 tape drives can read LTO4's, but cannot write on them, but a LTO5 drive will both read a write LTO4 tapes.

So have a look at a new LTO5 drive vs repairing the old LTO4.
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