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Dealing with tape devices on Windows

I have just installed a SDLT320 tape drive on my Windows system and it works great for all my backup needs. I now have a third-party consultant wanting to send me data in tar format on a DLT tape. Is it possible to set up this DLT so that I can tar the files of it and place them on to my Windows file server (using something like GnuTar)? How do I tell the tar command where this device is?

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Conventional command-line tar apps don't recognize the presence of a tape drive. Tapes in Windows are not treated like removable drives but are a device unto themselves that require special handling. The only way to get around this is to use a tar application that has been specifically written to deal with Windows tape devices. Hamilton Labs ( has one such utility in their Hamilton C Shell. A free evaluation version is available online.

This was first published in November 2003

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