Athana International

Tape Backup Procedures and Maintenance
(Reprinted with permission from Hewlett-Packard)


A good tape rotation method is vital to insure tape data recovery if you ever lose an important file or perhaps you lose your entire hard drive. You need to be rotating anywhere from three to ten tape cassettes. Your rotation method needs to include a TOTAL backup at least once a week if not every day. You need to make the TOTAL backups on separate tapes in case one becomes corrupt. If you are NOT making TOTAL backups everyday, then you need to at least perform a MODIFIED backup daily on the other days of the week, ON A SEPARATE TAPE. Always keep one copy of your latest TOTAL backup off site or in a fireproof safe! If you need to archive specific programs or data using selective backups use separate tapes to do this but be sure you are also using the TOTAL/MODIFIED backup procedure outlined above. If time is a problem you can schedule you backups to run during the nighttime.


Every tape needs to be retensioned before you backup, restore or format the tape. Tapes that haven't been used for days or weeks tend to get lose and need to be tightened before use. The newer versions of the tape software have a TAPE RETENSION option listed in the utilities menu. If you are using older tape software or running batch files you will need to use the command line option. From the C:\ prompt type: TAPE RETENSION and press the enter key. For example, C:\TAPE> TAPE RETENSION [then press ENTER].

In a batch file place a "TAPE RETENSION" command in the batch file before any commands to backup, restore or format.


Every backup you need to either manually do a COMPARE pass of the new backup or set the tape backup software to automatically COMPARE on every backup. By doing a COMPARE pass on each backup you can verify that each file you backed up is READABLE and exactly MATCHES each original file on the hard drive. The automatic comparison is the easiest to use and can be selected under the SOFTWARE SETUPS option in the tape software.

If your backup takes more than two tape cassettes the automatic compare feature is disabled and you will need to manually run a compare on every tape in the linked backup.


If you are experiencing problems with your tape drive, the first step in troubleshooting is to check the three following maintenance related aspects of your tape drive.


Use a foam or sponge-tip swab and isopropyl alcohol, apply the alcohol to the front of the gold colored tape read/write head inside the drive.

Do not use cotton swabs as they may leave behind fibers that can damage the read/write head. Do not use rubbing alcohol or any abrasive materials to clean the head or apply a lubricant to any part of the drive. Tape drive cleaning kits are available, refer to QICFAX document (2021) or BBS file LPG02021.DOC for details. The "End Of Tape Sensor" needs to be cleaned occasionally as well. To do this get a can of compressed air and spray it into the tape drive after you finish cleaning the heads. {DO NOT USE A ELECTRO-MAGNET/DEGAUSSER on the Jumbo 700 or Trakker 700 drive! You MUST be wearing a grounding strap when cleaning the drive!}


Spray out the drive with compressed air to clean the light sensors. The light sensors are used to find the beginning and ends of the tape. If the sensors get covered with too much dust and debris the sensors may fail to find the end of the tape and unspool the tape. If this happens call customer support for information on respooling tapes.


Periodically you will need to optimize your hard drive with a program like Norton Utilities, PCTools, Spinwrite. For example if you are using Norton, you will need to run Norton Disk Doctor and Norton Speed Disk, or if you use PCTools run Diskfix and Compress. If you are running MS-DOS 6.2 or greater you can run Scandisk and Defrag. There are other programs available that will help you maintain your hard drive so you may want to consult your local software dealer.


Be sure to try several tape cartridges in case one is jammed or defective.

If these steps don't alleviate the problem please contact your Colorado Memory Systems Customer Support Department at 303-635-1500.

Copyright Hewlett-Packard Co. 1994

This information is subject to change without notice and is provided "as is" with no warranty. Hewlett-Packard shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages


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