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LTO Data Recovery

Introduced in 2000, LTO Ultrium has been one of the fastest growing formats for the backup of high end systems, and with it have come new data recovery challenges.

At Altirium we have dealt with data recovery work following each of the above symptoms. These cover most eventualities, though each case might be subtly different.

LTO Data Recovery Problems Explained

LTO drive partially unloads and reloads the tape before finally ejecting.

The drive is experiencing difficulty addressing data at the start of tape, or else there is a disparity between the information encoded on the tape and that stored in the Ultrium cartridge memory. During manufacture the LTO Ultrium media is pre-recorded with servo and other data management information, this is done whilst the media is still in a large roll (known as a 'pancake') and prior to the media being split up and loaded into a set of plastic cartridge cases. Information relating to the set of data pre-recorded on each is then written to the RFID memory chip. If a problem corrupts information on the memory chip then the cartridge might not be accessible.

LTO Ultrium drive starts 'shoe-shining' then the restore process fails.

The drive has failed to read data from an area of tape. Cleaning and re-trying the operation might give a solution, but you need to be confident that there is no physical damage. Any unusual sounds from the drive, 'flapping' or 'crinkling' noises will be a sign of damage and re-reading will make the problem worse.

If there is no damage then it could be worth an attempt at a selective restore, however the recording format used by an LTO Ultrium drive is serpentine in nature and so the drive will re-visit each position along the tape several times during a restore. If the problem is across more than one track then you will suffer further restore failures and data recovery might be the only option.

A tearing or flapping sound heard, the drive stops and the error lights illuminate.

Almost certainly the tape has snapped or run of the end off the reel. Do not try and force the tape from the drive unless your intention is purely to destroy it. It might be that a drive failure has caused the tape to be run off the end of the supply reel in which case the tape is wrapped around the take-up reel within the Ultrium drive. The chances are that the tape can be salvaged from the drive without damage if dealt with by experienced tape recovery engineers.

The restore process appears to have hang. The restoration cannot be cancelled.

The LTO drive has locked, usually this is caused by encountering some abnormal circumstance that causes the drive firmware to crash. A severe recording problem on the tape is the most likely cause of this, powering off the drive and then switching it back on again will probably allow you to eject the tape. A reboot of the system to which the Ultrium drive is attached might also be required.

This could be a drive problem so take care to test the drive using a tape you don’t care too much about, if it is the tape at fault and the data is important then it is a tape data recovery job.

The LTO does not contain the data you expected, or reports as being blank.

The LTO cartridge has been initialised, partially erased or a backup has been written over the data you want.

Any data that has been over-recorded has gone forever, but if the process was short (as in a quick erase, or a tape re-labelling) then there should be a considerable proportion of the data from the original backup that can be recovered.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 June 2009 08:44)

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