Cleaning tape drives...

Failing to clean a tape drive will result in particle build up on the read/write heads. This build up will cause some level of *media errors* to be produced during normal use, and if left unattended will finally render the tape drive unusable, requiring service. Either your software should alert you or a cleaning light will be displayed on the drive, when cleaning is necessary. Abrasive tapes can destroy the read/write heads. Using non-recommended cleaning cartridges can result in much degraded head life. To avoid this problem, quality data grade tapes and cleaning cartridges should always be used.

To ensure reliable storage of networked data, follow these guidelines:

• Store Tapes Vertically. Do not lay a tape flat or put any weight on it.

• Maintain Proper Storage Temperature. Keep the storage temperature between 5 degrees C and 40 degrees C (41 degrees F and 104 degrees F).

• Maintain Proper Storage Humidity. Keep the relative humidity at or below 45%.

• Keep Tapes Away From Emf (Electro-Magnetic Fields). Store tapes away from magnets or any high voltage source (such as a video monitor).

• Plan The Life Cycle Of Each Tape. To increase the reliability of your backups, stop using a tape when it is beyond its useful life.

Troubleshooting at the hardware layer
The scope of the hardware layer extends from the tape drive to the SCSI cable connectivity of a SCSI controller. Loose cable connections can cause problems at this layer. Check for improper SCSI termination Check that the SCSI installation is properly configured— terminators must exist at both ends of the bus. Determine how the SCSI device is terminated.

Troubleshooting at the BIOS layer
If a tape drive is not detected on the BIOS level of a controller, the problem usually resides in the controller or the tape drive. Administrators can perform the following troubleshooting procedures to determine why a tape drive is not being detected. Change the SCSI ID of the tape drive or library to determine whether the SCSI ID is causing the problem. Check all the other devices in the SCSI chain Check the compatibility matrix of the tape drive to determine whether the controller is supported. Check for incompatibility between standards. Check the configuration of the SCSI host adapter and ensure that the SCSI Disconnection and Parity settings are enabled. Make sure that the SCSI card is set to use Edge Triggering and not Level Triggering.

Troubleshooting at the OS layer
If the tape drive is detected on the BIOS level, it should also be detected on the OS level. To facilitate device detection, administrators should proactively check with hardware vendors for updated device drivers. Microsoft Windows OS The Microsoft® Management Console (MMC) provides a user interface through which administrators can coordinate systems management for Microsoft Windows® environments. Novell NetWare OS System administrators managing systems within Novell® NetWare® environments can troubleshoot tape hardware from the commandline interface Troubleshooting at the application layer From the application layer, it is often difficult to drill down to the root cause of problems because most applications do not interact with the hardware directly. Check for wear and tear Clean the tape head using a cleaning cartridge if a significant amount of debris has accumulated on the head. Check whether the device is supported by the application and whether the appropriate device drivers have been installed if the tape hardware is not detected on the application level but is detected on the OS level. Check the vendor’s Web site to determine whether an updated version of the tape device firmware is available if SCSI errors occur while backing up large amounts of data.