Myth: There is nothing wrong with it so tape recovery should be easy

We have heard this statement many times from potential customers and I am afraid to say that very often it is not accurate.  It is a commonly held tape recovery myth.

Restoring data from archive tapes is seldom as straightforward as IT managers expect.

We did a quick calculation of the number of permutations for tapes and backup software.  There are over 1,000 and probably as many as 10,000 different combinations.

The tapes are often between 10-20 years old so you need to have a 10-20 year old functioning tape drive that will read the tape.  Kroll Ontrack has kept over 200 different functioning tape drives, going back all the way to the old 9-track reel to reel tapes (shown in the photo).

Once the right tape drive has been matched with the customer’s tape the software that wrote the tape needs to be correctly identified from the 100s of possible ones.  Often the customer cannot help as the tape is from offsite storage and the restoration hardware and software have been disposed of long ago.

Only after all this has been setup correctly can a tape recovery and data restoration be attempted.  Also complications often occur – what appears to be a tape in good condition is not necessarily so, and can have read errors.  Fortunately our engineering team can overcome these errors by ‘jumping’ over them to read the rest of the data.

Robert Winter :

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