LTO and 3950 tapes contain pre-recorded servo tracks that keep the tape in synchronization as it passes through the drive. Using servo tracks allows the tapes to record more data by providing feedback to the drive on reading and writing.
Unfortunately, degaussing destroys the servo tracks as well as the recorded information. As a result, a degaussed tape with prewritten servo tracks is useless.
To erase an LTO or other tape with a pre-written servo track without destroying it, use the 'security erase' feature to completely overwrite the data on the tape. Note: Since this means essentially writing the entire tape, it is a time-consuming task.
Of course sometimes you want to render the tape useless. That's why old LTO and 3950 tapes are degaussed before being discarded. Degaussing at the appropriate magnetic flux level (measured in oersteds) effectively destroys all the information on a magnetic tape. Just remember: If you are degaussing old tapes, be careful to do it well away from any tapes you want to keep.
About the author: Rick Cook specializes in writing about issues related to storage and storage management.
More information on this topic:
- Tip: Reusing backup tapes: Best practices
- Topics: Tape and disk backup
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This was first published in October 2006