Yes, TSM tapes can be read without TSM

I occasionally hear TSM customers and sales reps tell me that TSM’s tape format is so proprietary that even a TSM server can’t read it if it doesn’t have the database for it.  In other words, some people believe that TSM tapes don’t need to be encrypted because if you someone got ahold of them, they couldn’t read them without the TSM database.  This is such a common belief that I have a TSM field manual from 2005 that says “There is no way to restore TSM backups (except for client backup sets) without the database.”  I would say that sentence would be correct if you added the phrase “in TSM” right after the phrase “TSM backups.”  I know of four different ways to read TSM tapes without using TSM at all.  Click read more to see what they are.
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Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Architect at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.