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AIT3 tape

AIT Data Recovery

AIT data recovery work is similar to that with 4mm DAT though with some of its own particular quirks. The media is wider, being 8mm as with Exabyte and VXA, and the recording method is helical scan running from the start to the end of the tape. Altirium’s engineers have recovered data where the tape has been snapped, crumpled or creased within the drive or by external factors such as fire or smoke, tracking problems and accidental overwriting.

This is not an exhaustive list but covers the broad range of situations where Altirium have been able to provide successful data recovery services.

AIT Data Recovery Problems Explained

Unable to read data. All three lights on the front of the drive flash simultaneously.

The AIT drive has experienced a problem reading the media system area and partition information. This could indicate either a problem with the drive, with the media or with the recorded information. If you are testing the drive make certain you use a tape that you do not care too much about and not a vital backup.

If the drive is working then the fault is tape related. The most likely cause is physical damage caused by a problem with the drive that made the recording or a cartridge mechanism problem during the unloading of the AIT cartridge. This is why you need to be very careful about checking the drive operation, we have seen cases where several vital tapes have been damaged by people testing the drive before deciding it is definitely at fault and then realising that they need a data recovery.

Check the media by (very carefully) lifting the shutter and having a look. If there are no signs of damage then it could be worth trying the tape in a different drive. If there is any sign of damage then the only option is to go down the data recovery route.

The restore process fails with an AIT tape media flaw.

This could be the drive or the tape at fault. Presuming that the drive is fine (see the previous paragraph about checking this very carefully) and you have run a cleaning tape through the drive then it is worth retrying the operation. The caveat here is that you need to be confident that there is no physical damage within the cartridge as repeated attempts to read data from the AIT could then result in the tape snapping and becoming entangled within the drive mechanism.

It is possible that a selective restore of the most vital data might avoid the area of the problem and could be worth a try, otherwise it’s data recovery time.

Data transfer is seen to stop and you can hear fast tape motion.

The AIT drive has experienced a difficulty with reading data from the tape and is attempting to clear the heads by running tape, and then it will re-position to re-try reading. We have seen tapes where this happens repeatedly during reading, but the process is successful (though it takes several times longer than usual). There is a strong possibility, though, that the restore process will fail with a media flaw.

The problem could relate to tracking, either drive reading the tape or the one that made the recording could be developing a problem with its tape guidance mechanism causing the tape to incorrectly position relative to the heads. If the problem is caused by this rather than by damage then re-trying might work.

The three lights on the front of the AIT keep flashing but the tape will not eject.

The drive is attempting to load the AIT cartridge but failing to access data. Worse still it appears to be locked in a retry loop. Our experience has been that the drive will stay in this state for a long time (we’ve never seen an AIT drive recover from this situation).

There are ways to force eject an AIT but this requires that the drive be dismantled and manually ejected. An added complication is that the tape is loaded and held within the tape guidance mechanism, and the manual unload process might well not clear the tape and so it will be snagged during ejection and be damaged.

It is probable that to get any data from the tape will require data recovery work, so if the data on the tape is important enough to justify this then send the tape still in the drive rather than risking making matters worse.

The AIT is reported as being blank or containing no data sets.

If you are certain that you have the right tape, and that a successful backup had been made to it then the media has either been erased or re-initialised.

Erasure in a modern helical scan drive is not a clumsy magnetic wiping process and involves over-recording data with an internal pattern. Typically people do not wait the 3 hours it takes and opt for a quick erase which affects only the start of the tape. The majority of the data will still be present on the tape, though inaccessible. Gaining access to the data will require a tape data recovery service but at least not all is lost.

If the tape has been re-initialised, or re-labelled, then the situation is the same as for a quick erase and only a small amount of data will have been lost.

You have lifted the shutter and can see damage to the tape, or there is no tape visible.

If there is damage then the tape should not be put in a drive as there is a risk of it becoming stuck, and no chance of reading data. I minor crinkle close to the start probably won’t case a problem itself, but if there is visible damage when you look under the shutter it is almost certain that there is damage further along the tape where there is data stored.

If no tape is visible then the tape has snapped or become de-spooled. It takes a lot of force to de-spool an AIT as the media is fixed to either reel, the most likely cause is the tape being snagged by the drive mechanism during an unload, so you need to check your drive.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 June 2009 08:47)

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