RE: Failure rate of backup tapes?

Subject: RE: Failure rate of backup tapes?
From: Marguerite Krupp <mkrupp -at- cisco -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 21:34:00 -0500

I'd agree with Bruce about a common reason for the "corruption" of the
backup tapes, but your friend might want to do a little more digging into
the actual cause of the corruption. As Bruce notes, for all our dependence
on them, mag tapes are subject to a variety of ills, not the least of which
is wear and stretching, which can do nasty things to the oxide coating on
which the data resides.

It may, however, be a more subtle problem. It would be a good idea to look
at the actual area in which the tapes are stored, noting its proximity to
things (like unshielded electric motors) that develop significant magnetic
fields. Or it could be as simple as observing how the tapes are handled. If
someone puts the tapes, even for an hour or so, in an area where they are
subject to extremes of heat, cold, or magnetism, your tape can look OK, but
its contents can be kaput!

I wonder whether the tapes are actually physically unreadable, or whether
they're getting cyclical redundancy checks or some other kind of logical
error. That would be useful to know. Sometimes you can skip over physical
damage and salvage the rest. Logic errors are more tricky.

It would be well to note the dates of the corrupted tapes and see whether
there's a pattern that might correlate with some other variable; for
example, a certain operator may not be handling them in a proper way. Even
if they're using an automated/robotic tape library, there are still handling
procedures involved.

So, if your friend buys a new set of, say, five backup tapes and is still
having a problem, then you can at least rule out one major variable and
focus on the rest.

HTH,
Marguerite

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