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Media flaws and Media errors

Once a media flaw or media error has presented itself, either in the form of an error or warning reported by the backup software whilst attempting to restore data or sometimes by observing the behaviour of the tape drive, in particular drive cleaning lights becoming illuminated, or noticing repeated read attempts, it is imperative that any further use of the tape is kept to a minimum.

Continual use of a tape reporting media errors can result in increased tape errors leading to further loss of data.

Read errors encountered during the restoration of data will often cause the restore attempt to terminate, preventing access to any data stored further on the tape.

At Altirium we do not rely on the originating software to restore data and our focus is to secure any recoverable data a quickly as possible. The recovery software we develop, allows us to overcome many of the problems presented by media flaws and allows us to recover the maximum amount of data possible.

Once the data from the failing tape has been secured it is then possible for us to locate and recover your critical data.

The Data Recovery Process

Whilst creased or snapped data tapes can clearly be seen to be damaged, media flaws on data tapes are not always humanly visible. Media flaws often only manifest themselves once you try and read the only copy you have of critical data from the tape. Less visible media flaws commonly occur due to excessive use and usually near the beginning of the tape as this is the most frequently accessed area of the tape. A poor storage or working environment can also cause media related problems.

When the backup software encounters a media flaw, in the majority of cases it will stop and report the error. Data beyond the point of the flaw often cannot be accessed even though the required files might be perfectly intact.

At Altirium, we use our own tape data recovery tools to read all the recoverable data from the damaged tape, then analyse the data to locate the files you require.

Media flaw on helical scan tape

Recoverable data from helical scan recording with a media flaw.

Media flaw on serpentine tape

Recoverable data from serpentine recording with a media flaw.

The illustrations show the impact a physical media flaw such as a crease, that spans the full width of the tape, can have on the different types of recording helical scan and serpentine. On tape that use a helical scan recording method, such as AIT or DAT, once beyond the media flaw, the remaining data on tape is usually fully recoverable. With serpentine recording however, damage to the data occurs in multiple places as the read heads pass over the same area of tape multiple times.

Last Updated (Friday, 05 June 2009 08:47)

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