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Exabyte tape

Exabyte Data Recovery

Exabyte 8mm cartridges were a popular format for backup across a wide range of systems from the late 1980s and we have experience of most things that can go wrong. This is not an exhaustive list but covers the main failure that we have seen.

These are some of the symptoms you might witness when a failure occurs with an Exabyte data cartridge.

Exabyte Data Recovery Problems Explained

The restore process fails with a tape I/O error and the cleaning light is on.

The drive cannot tell the difference between a fault with the media, or a fault with its attempts to read from the media as a result of contamination of the read heads, so when read failures occur, the drive will decide that it needs cleaning. (this is not a negative criticism, no drive can determine this).

If the problem is head-clog, the process whereby small amounts of oxide from the tape build up in the drive heads, then cleaning might well solve the problem. If however, there is a recording fault or damage to the tape (media flaw) then tape recovery might be the only answer.

Altirium can position past the problem and recover all undamaged data from which the files can be rebuilt.

The Exabyte tape cannot be read, nor will it eject.

There are instances when, following a problem, the tape cannot be ejected from the drive. It appears to be trying to load the tape, some mechanical noise can be heard within the drive, but the lights keep flashing and no attempts to recover the tape from within the drive will work.

The cause for this is most often that the drive is unable to read system information that it stores at the start of the tape, and it needs to up date this information before is can do any other operation, unfortunately this can include ejecting. Another cause can be that the tape has become mis-threaded, the result of a mechanical failure within the drive mechanism.

The problem is knowing what to do, any attempt to force eject could well result in damage to the tape. "The tape is recovered but the data is lost" a satisfactory result if the only copy of the data was on that tape. Sometimes pressing and holding the eject button for several seconds (note: how long not how hard is the key factor) will result in an eject, sometimes the tape will not appear whatever you do.

At Altirium we will take both the drive and tape under the diagnosis part of our service and remove the tape without further damage to the tape. The load mechanism and the tape part are complex and must be fully understood before attempting to remove the tape otherwise unnecessary damage to the tape will occur. Once successfully removed, the recovery of your data can begin.

The tape partially ejects but there is tape stuck in the drive.

If the tape has "jumped" off one of the guides within the drive or has snapped then it will be entangled within the drive mechanism and if damage has not already occurred, attempts to remove the tape stand a good chance of causing further problems.

This type of problem can be cause by a failure in the cassette mechanism, for example of one of the reels sticks, or mechanical wear within the drive load assembly. The important thing is to try and prevent further damage. Pulling the tape free will almost certainly result in snapping or creasing and a tape that cannot be read, pushing it back into the drive will not help either.

If you have the cassette in one hand, but there is tape still entangled within the drive then it is time to seek professional assistance. Remove power from the drive to prevent further problems then call us for assistance on how your data can be recovered.

In the past our engineers have been able to recover data from many tapes displaying such problems. On more than one occasion, we have received drives where tapes have snapped inside the drive and the spinning read/write head has become the take-up spool. In such cases tape data recovery is usually successful because the tape is kept tightly wound preventing further consequential damage.

The Exabyte tape appears to contain the wrong backup set.

If the tape appears to contain the wrong backup set then there is a good change that it has been overwritten, the question then is by how much?

Exabyte, like all other tape formats, does not permit access to data beyond the most recent data written. If you have several gigabytes of data on a tape and the tape has been subsequently re-used, even if for only a small amount of data, then a tape recovery service will be required.

The data that has been overwritten has gone forever, the recovery of overwritten data is the stuff of science fiction, but if the size of the overwrite is less than that of the required data then tape data recovery is practicable.

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

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