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Thread: Skeptical about tape drives

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgober View Post
    One of the important things about tape storage is that the tape drives themselves don't need to be especially reliable in terms of longevity, because you can substitute one drive for another without loss of data.
    ...

    The tape is the only part that's common to all three steps, so the most important thing is to use good quality tapes. It's less important to use good quality drives because those can be replaced
    Except that with many tape formats, the tape drives are only compatible with other drives of the same make and model. And many times, finding a replacement drive that's compatible is impossible or at least unfeasible.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Magnetic tape, if stored correctly, is quite robust. It's the other stuff (e.g., in the case of QIC drive, capstans and tension bands) that spoils the picture. I've processed 1/2" tapes in excess of 50 years old. Recently, I was hunting for some old bit of software and was surprised pleasantly that both the 8mm and DDS tapes made during the early 90s were perfectly readable. (But I didn't find what I was looking for).

    Another trap is backup software. You'd think that tapes made with a Microsoft program called NTBACKUP under Windows NT 4 would be readable by later versions of the program on 2K and XP. Nope. MS apparently didn't believe in backward compatibility when designing backup programs. I finally had to resort to booting NT 4 to get my data. Some third-party software (e.g. Sytos) can be not only platform and OS-specific, but also hardware (i.e. tape drive and interface) specific. So don't toss your old copy of Trantor TMATE...
    The NTBackup backup utility included with older releases of NT/2K/XP was a bought in utility, which accounts for some of the issues. I don't remember having any issues restoring NT4 data onto 2K but it was a long time ago..
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  3. #13
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    Well, it didn't work for me--I had to use NT4. Of course, XP and later was a nonstarter.

    I thought that it might have been charitable to name the executable file something else in the distribution, if there were going to be compatibility issues.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Be warned that I charge a premium for old QIC tape recovery. I dislike doing it and success is not assured.

    I don't know if 3M ever intended QIC as an archival (as opposed to backup) medium.
    I never had a problem yet with the old QIC 80 (120MB tapes). Travan tapes were kind of junky and so were the drives. The last QIC format (SLR from Tandberg) seem OK but I have not used them enough to know about long term reliability.

    I think around the Travan era they started making the tape thinner (kind of like what they did with VHS extended tapes) and reliability wasn't as good.
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  5. #15
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    It's the polyurethane+lubricant band that fails (breaks or goes slack). There are at least two threads covering this. Success depends not only on the tape manufacturer, but also the storage conditions.

    Al K. has had some experience with this also.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    It's the polyurethane+lubricant band that fails (breaks or goes slack). There are at least two threads covering this. Success depends not only on the tape manufacturer, but also the storage conditions.

    Al K. has had some experience with this also.
    Yes, I remember those threads. I was just posting about my experience with tapes that were probably well cared for all their lives. I dumped maybe 80+ tapes back in 2002 (going by the directory dates) and the tapes were made in the very early 90's (so 10 year old tapes) and all worked. Still have the tapes and drives so I should go see if they still work. 10 years is probably about the time you either forget what was on the tapes or you dumped them to newer media (CDR and a HD in my case). They are 16GBs worth of data that would easily fit on an old LTO-1 tape.
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Be warned that I charge a premium for old QIC tape recovery. I dislike doing it and success is not assured.

    I don't know if 3M ever intended QIC as an archival (as opposed to backup) medium.
    Hah! It's no loss really, I mostly just wanted to recover my old BBS and see what else was there. Disappointing, yes, important documents? Nope.. this was early 90s so I was in my mid 20's... It's sad though since I technically don't have anything earlier than 2000 when I started using Raid storage and my own email server.
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  8. #18

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    Is there such thing as accessing the data on a tape drive too frequently?

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by computerdude92 View Post
    Is there such thing as accessing the data on a tape drive too frequently?
    yes, because tape is abrasive over time and you'll wear out the heads.

  10. #20
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    Using the same tape over and over (weekly backups) will wear off the magnetic coating over time.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
    Boxed apps and games for the above systems
    Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

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