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How do you diagnose problems with tape drives and/or autochangers?

January 17th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

TapeAlert is the street-name for the ANSI specification that governs hardware diagnostics for tape drives, libraries and autochangers.  It was “invented” by HP, and well established as an industry spec.  Pretty much everything from IBM half-million dollar robotic systems to consumer-class entry-level DAT drives from HP support the spec.  More information on the spec can be found at the TAPEALERT.ORG web site.   Some screen dumps of TapeAlert software that lets you query health of your tape drive products can be found at the SANtools web site.

These are the messages defined by the spec (quited from the SANtools URL http://www.santools.com/smart/unix/manual/tapealerttesting.htm)

. What message strings are returned?

A. The strings below are defined by the software. Not all tape/changer devices have the capability to report all of these messages.

Read Warning – The tape drive is having problems reading data. (No data lost, but reduction in performance.)
Write Warning – The tape drive is having problems writing data. (No data lost, but reduction in performance.)
Hard Error – The operation has stopped because the drive could not recover from the error condition.
Media Error – Your data is at risk. Do not use this tape media again.
Read Error – The tape is damaged or the drive is faulty.
Write Error – The tape is from a faulty batch or the tape drive is faulty.
Media Life – The tape cartridge has reached the end of its calculated useful life.
Not Data Grade – The cartridge is not data grade. Data written to it will be at risk.
Write Protect – You are trying to write to a write-protected cartridge.
No Removal – You can not remove this cartridge while it is in use.
Cleaning Media – The tape in the drive is a cleaning cartridge.
Unsupported Format – You have loaded a cartridge of a type not recognized by this tape drive.
Recoverable Snapped Tape – The operation has failed because the tape in the drive has snapped.
Unrecoverable Snapped Tape – The operation has failed because the tape in the drive has snapped.
Memory Chip Failure – The memory chip in the cartridge has failed, which will affect performance only.
Forced Eject – The operation has failed because the cartridge was manually ejected during I/O.
Read-Only Format – You have loaded a cartridge of type which is read only.
Tape Directory Corrupted – The directory is corrupted. File search will be degraded.
Nearing Media Life –  The cartridge is nearing the end of its calculated life.
Clean Now – The tape drive needs cleaning.
Clean Periodic – The tape drive needs routine cleaning.
Expired Cleaning Media – The last cleaning cartridge used needs to be replaced.
Invalid Cleaning Media – The last cleaning cartridge used was an invalid type.
Retention Requested – The tape drive has requested a retension operation.
Dual-Ported Interface Error – A redundant interface port has failed.
Cooling Fan Failure – A cooling fan has failed.
Power Supply Failure – A redundant power supply has failed.
Power Consumption – The tape drive power consumption is outside the specified range.
Drive Maintenance – Preventive maintenance on the drive is required.
Hardware Fault A – The tape drive has vendor-defined hardware fault (requires reset to recover).
Hardware Fault B – The tape drive has vendor-defined hardware fault (requires power cycle to recover).
Interface – The tape drive has a problem with the application client interface.
Eject Media – The operation has failed (eject, reinsert, restart application).
Download Fail – The last firmware download failed.
Drive Humidity – Environmental conditions inside the tape drive are outside the specified range.
Drive Temperature – Environmental conditions inside the tape drive are outside the specified range.
Drive Voltage – Power conditions are outside the specified range.
Predictive Failure – A hardware failure of the tape drive is predicted.
Diagnostics Required – The tape drive may have a hardware fault. Run diagnostics.
Loader Hardware A – The changer mechanism is having difficulty communicating with the tape drive.
Loader Stray Tape – A tape has been left in the autoloader by a previous hardware fault.
Loader Hardware B – The loader mechanism has a hardware fault.
Loader Door – The operation has failed because the autoloader door is open.
Loader Hardware C – The autoloader has a hardware fault that is not mechanically related.
Loader Magazine – The autoloader cannot operate without the magazine.
Loader Predictive Failure – A hardware failure of the changer mechanism is predicted.
Lost Statistics – Media statistics have been lost at some time in the past.
Tape Directory Invalid at Unload – The tape directory on the tape cartridge just unloaded has been corrupted.
Tape System – The tape just unloaded could not write its system area successfully.
Tape System Read Failure – The tape system area could not be read successfully at load time.
No Start of Data – The start of data could not be found on the tape.
Loading Failure – The operation has failed because the media cannot be loaded and threaded.
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