It is better to inspect the tape media before it is loaded into standalone tape drive or autoloader. Inspection of the tape media may not be possible every time, therefore the media must be
inspected when the background of tape media is not known, tape cartridge is dropped, failure of tape drive as soon as the tape is inserted or if the drive fails periodically/repeatedly. Checking the condition of the data tape cartridge and verification of the tape leaders that they are not damaged or torn can help to avoid repeated tape drive failures. Checking the tape media takes only few moments and hence makes sure uninterrupted data backup process.
Tape technology of DLT (digital linear tape) has mechanism of “latch leader” in which the drive is engaged onto the leader of tape cartridge and then the media is pulled into the tape drive. If the tape cartridge drops and the cartridge leader damages, then sometimes there are chances that the tape drive may cause fatal or load errors so the tape drive might need replacement. Cartridge leader is the major and core element in the DLT tape drive’s functionality. Just open the door of the DLT tape cartridge for checking the cartridge leader that it is damaged or not. Door of the DLT tape cartridge is spring loaded and it can be opened by releasing it gently. There are “reel locks” in inner side of DLT cartridge. When DLT tape is not inserted into drive, spinning or moving of “media spool” is prevented by these “reel locks”. If the tape is dropped accidentally, then it might damage the reel locks of DLT cartridge.
The tape media should be cast off if is has misplaced cartridge leader because of failure of reel locks. Another easy method for reel lock’s verification that they are in good condition is to gently shake the tape media, and incase there is a rattling sound from the cartridge replace the cartridge. Other checking area of the DLT tape cartridge is the “cartridge hub”. The hub should be properly spring loaded and correctly seated inside the tape cartridge. The media hub should return properly to its seated position after it is pressed gently. If it does not reside properly to its seated position or if the leader and the loop are not visible any more, then the tape should be discarded. DLT tapes whose leader loops are snapped must also be replaced. Most of the times seeing the tear or snap in tape cartridge’s leader is difficult. So another easy method to see the tear is checking the leader’s tension with the help of ballpoint pen. Do not use pencil for checking.
Therefore the conclusion about the discussion of checking the tape cartridge is that they should be checked to see if there are any signs of cracks, damage or tear to the casing of the tape cartridge. Make sure that there are no screws missing and that the DLT tapes are intact. The door locks must be spring loaded and should be in proper working condition. The switch of “write protect” should be movable but make sure that when it is set to a specific position, it remains in that position. Cartridge leader of the DLT data tape needs to be checked with ballpoint pen and it should remain intact. The “hub” needs to be spring loaded and it must be centered in the DLT tape cartridge. Make sure that the Digital linear tape cartridge has no labels on it besides the label slot. Gently vibrate the DLT tape to check whether there is any kind of rattles. If there are any rattles, then the tape cartridge must be disposed off.
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17 January 2009 Hardware Tips