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HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems

Posted by Zarattini 
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
May 04, 2011 05:50AM
Hi All

We use commvault simpana backing up to a Qualstar LTO5 library which uses an IBM LTO5 drive.

Every 2-3 months the drive starts producing hardware errors and eventually becomes unusable.

Qualstar have now replaced it 3 times and have also escalated the issue to IBM.

IBM have come back (after a month) saying that HP/Maxell media (which we are using) is known to be more abrasive than other vendors media and that this is causing the drive heads to become degraded up to 20x quicker than expected. Once degraded the only option is to replace the drive.

The recommendation is to switch vendor to either Fuji or IBM media.

The HP/Maxell media is apparently still meets the LTO5 specification, as does the IBM drive.

We are now therefore stuck with a bunch of HP LTO5 tapes and have to either replace them all OR put up with having our drive fail and be replaced every few months.

I wondered if anyone else is having similar issues with either Maxell-based media or with IBM or other vendors drives. I have not been able to find anything online so far about known issues with Maxell LTO5 media abrasiveness but I would be surprised if other users are not affected.

Damian
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
May 17, 2011 09:24AM
There is a known issue with Maxell tapes, IBM has had head wear issues, Qualstar is slated to issue an announcement on this.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
May 19, 2011 08:30AM
Sent you PM. Please respond.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
July 21, 2011 05:39PM
I'm having similar issues. We have 10 IBM LTO5 drives and we were using Maxell LTO5 media. IBM said it was the Maxell media that's causing the problem. More specifically, after sending drive dumps, IBM said:

They checked the supplied dumps earlier and all dumps showed the failure was at wrap 41-45. This indicates that the failure area was towards the end of the tape at bottom edge area. However they needed the carts to identify the cause of the failures. They found stretched/damaged tape at the failure area due to manufacturing defect. This stretched area was going beyond the logical end of the tape where drive ends writing. All tapes are initialised with servo tracks. At a successful load, drive's R/W head locks itself to these servo tracks and performs read/writes on these tracks. Drive firmware enables the drive to tolerate a small servo track problem. However at stretched region the damage was beyond the amount that drive can tolerate.

Therefore it was failing the job with servo tracking error. I strongly recommend to continue using IBM media and you see the result
that no I/O error since using them. Also this makes the problem isolation much easier in future. I think your backups/restores and labour to isolate the problems worth much more than carts value. In addition, since the cause of the problem is identified to be faulty media, any future parts and labour due to using these media would be billable. There is no charge for two replaced brand new drives since they were requested for analysis by our lab.

The 3 Maxell cartridges sent in from ***** have been through media physical inspection and all three display the same manufacturing defect that explains the servo/data write errors encountered the customers backups. The media lower edge, at the attach and out into the data region had been damaged/stretched, leaving a stretched edge yielding poor head to tape contact. This could have been the result of a winding operation, or possibly a by product of a collapsed hub.

******

After switching from Maxell media to IBM branded media, everything was fine for about 6-7 weeks, and then we started to get the same errors that were reported using Maxell media. IBM is currently investigating. IBM did reveal 3 other customers are experiencing this issue.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
August 01, 2011 08:57PM
I'm having some issues with one my Maxell LTO5 tapes, don't know if it's related or not :

http://www.backupcentral.com/phpBB2/two-way-mirrors-of-backup-central-mailing-lists-4/general-topics-17/did-ltfs-screw-up-my-lto5-tape-112792/

So much for the 30 year shelf life .
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
August 02, 2011 07:52AM
Keep in mind that LTFS is not LTO and by partitioning and formatting your tape as an LTFS tape you've transferred it from a normal data tape to a "disk-like" tape that cannot be reversed. Yes, that means you cannot remove the LTFS partitioning of a misbehaving LTFS tape to try and use it as a regular data tape.

The 30-year shelf life is actually estimated at 50 years and only when the tape is written to a very small number of times and stored in a controlled environment. Each write operation degrades the tape and shortens it's lifespan. Therefore, a tape written 200 times has a shorter life than a tape written just 10 times.

When it comes to LTFS, the problems are the same regardless of which media brand you're using.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
August 02, 2011 07:57AM
-----Original Message-----
From: backups-bounces < at > backupcentral.com [mailto] On Behalf Of Hummdis
Sent: Tuesday, August 02, 2011 10:53 AM
To: backups < at > backupcentral.com
Subject: [Backups] HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems

Keep in mind that LTFS is not LTO and by partitioning and formatting your tape as an LTFS tape you've transferred it from a normal data tape to a "disk-like" tape that cannot be reversed. Yes, that means you cannot remove the LTFS partitioning of a misbehaving LTFS tape to try and use it as a regular data tape.

The 30-year shelf life is actually estimated at 50 years and only when the tape is written to a very small number of times and stored in a controlled environment. Each write operation degrades the tape and shortens it's lifespan. Therefore, a tape written 200 times has a shorter life than a tape written just 10 times.

When it comes to LTFS, the problems are the same regardless of which media brand you're using.

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HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
August 02, 2011 08:27AM
@hdarcy -- You need to change your BackupCentral PHPBB forum settings. It's the forum that sends out the emails, it's not a mailing list.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
September 28, 2011 03:56PM
For those following this thread, I just found this post KB post from TOLIS Group....quite interesting actually.

[url=http://knowledgebase.tolisgroup.com/?View=entry&EntryID=271]LTO-5 Tape Drive Head Wear[/url]
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
October 27, 2011 09:17AM
Is there any update to this? I am seeing this type behavior with HP tapes purchased in August, 2011.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
October 27, 2011 07:17PM
Because that KB I found was posted on 8/19, I think it's eluding to a future change or a change made in August. If the change was in August, I would imagine that it would be a little while between the manufacturing change and when it's obtainable by us consumers.

Additionally, if your tape drive was toast or on it's way to being toast as a result of media, there's no way the new media will stop or reverse the damage already done.

Other than that, what type of an update are you asking about?
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
October 28, 2011 01:36PM
I was hoping to get more information - apparently there was no recall of these tapes, so you are highly likely to essentially destroy 1/3 of your brand new LTO5 drives within the first 6 months if you bought the wrong tape media or are not lucky.

I am now seeking the sequence of commands to determine the underlying media information found in the bptm logs when level 5 logging in netbackup, that can determine the manufacturer and date created of my media and figure out how much I have to throw out.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
October 28, 2011 02:54PM
I don't believe that a recall was required given that the tapes were not defective, they were too abrasive. If I were the company, I don't see any reason to conduct a recall for non-defective tapes.

The tape drive head has become damaged, I know (from having one) that HP StorageWorks drives have a three year warranty. Therefore, if the head goes bad from their tapes, I see no reason why they wouldn't replace it since the head has failed (for whatever reason) and the unit is still within warranty.

Since LTO-5 was released in 2010, your drive should most certainly still be in warranty. Now, if you don't have a StorageWorks version, the warranty may not apply, but even their website states it's a three year warranty.

As for destroying your tapes, if the tape is continuously recycled (reused), then the tape only gets softer with age. However, if you're always using brand new tapes for each backup, then of course that changes the rules.

Again, the media itself is not bad or defective, it's too abrasive and it's wearing out the tape head. Changing the media (or replacing it) won't fix your tape head now. You're going to throw away completely usable media.

Did you actually READ the KB from TOLIS Group that I linked to???
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
October 29, 2011 08:03AM
Yes, I read the Tolis post, and have been working with the drive provider and the tape company.

My drives are under warrenty and are being replaced.

I guess it seems incredible to me that you are recommending I be content that any new tapes I buy will wear out my tape heads, and I will suffer from frozen tapes, write errors, and down drives as I wait for them to be replaced.

Yes - the tapes are not defective - they are within specs. They just wore out 3 of 12 drives in 100 days, not to mention drives requesting cleaning 3 times a day. And now I am forced to generate logs, spend hours working with tape and drive manufacturers to assist with problem determination for a known issue.

So, I have bptm logging set to level 5, so I can capture the tape information, and sending drives for failure analysis - maybe we can figure out what is causing our drives to fail!
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
October 29, 2011 08:50AM
>My drives are under warrenty and are being replaced.

Note how they're not telling you to change/replace your tapes then?

>I guess it seems incredible to me that you are recommending I be content that any new tapes I buy will wear out my tape heads, and I will suffer from frozen tapes, write errors, and down drives as I wait for them to be replaced.

I'm not tell you to be content with any new tapes that you buy, I'm tell you to be content with the tapes that you have already bought. Your prior statement regarding a recall notice for the tapes, as well as the discarding of your existing usable media is quite extreme.

Consider for a moment that the new media was available in August (which I highly doubt that it was), do you honestly think that your purchase of even 500 tapes came straight from the factory to you and didn't sit in someone's warehouse for four to six weeks before being shipped to you?

>They just wore out 3 of 12 drives in 100 days, not to mention drives requesting cleaning 3 times a day.

I can tell you from experience that if the drive is requesting cleaning three times a day, the head is already gone. Do you honestly know what a cleaning tape is? A cleaning tape is a tape that is of the exact same formulation of a data tape, however, the MIC in the tape cartridge ensures that each time the cleaning tape is loaded into the drive, a never-been-touched section of tape rubs across the tape head. Since new data-grade media is far more abrasive than a tape that's been rubbed across the tape head even once, using a new section of tape each time ensures that the cleaning process is being performed. Therefore, you're destroying your tape heads even faster with each cleaning operation, on top of using new tapes each time you perform a backup. This is also why you should not perform regular cleanings of your tape drive, only perform the cleaning when your drive requests it.

In your case, however, three times a day is excessive. Even once a week is excessive. I have two tape drives, both are used daily and I'm not talking one backup a day, sometimes during the day I'll perform six to seven backups. In the almost three years that I've had my tape drives, I've needed to actually clean each of them twice. I have seen customer drives request a cleaning each time a tape is loaded into the drive. In those cases, the tape drive is bad and needs to be replaced.

>So, I have bptm logging set to level 5, so I can capture the tape information, and sending drives for failure analysis - maybe we can figure out what is causing our drives to fail!

Without even looking at your logs, I can tell you it's the abrasive media. No legitimate, working tape drive needs a cleaning three times a day. Period. I bet you're also experiencing slower read & write performance to the tape drive.

I've seen customer's LTO-5 tape drives going 135 to 137 MB/sec when working, drop as low as 40MB/sec when the tape head is damaged. This is one of the precursor signs to a failing drive head. While is can also mean a bad tape, using a brand-new tape to duplicate the problem exposes it even further.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
November 16, 2011 08:01AM
We have replaced 7 of 12 drives, with 2 more generating excessive cleaning requests. I expect them to be replaced within a few days.

The good news is that we rotate our tapes, so we are starting to re-use old tapes and should see this behavior stop. The bad news is that I have been assured that the tapes I am using are the "new and improved" reformulated tapes that should not be causing excessive head wear.

We have sent the last few drives to IBM for failure analysis, results expected in a few weeks.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
November 16, 2011 08:45PM
@Anonymouse

Since the 'quote' and 'code' tags have been removed (the reason is completely invalid [i]*sigh*[/i] -- they should really just remove the whole email-reply function for a large number of reasons, but that's for another topic)...therefore, from your prior message:

>>The bad news is that I have been assured that the tapes I am using are the "new and improved" reformulated tapes that should not be causing excessive head wear.

I'd question the accuracy of the source of your information based on the troubles that you're seeing.

If you don't mind, or want to share, take a picture of the [i]bottom[/i] of one of your LTO-5 tapes. I'll compare it with a bunch that I have in my possession that I know, for a fact, that are based on the new formula.
HP/Maxell LTO5 media problems
September 26, 2012 10:26AM
Just a quick update. I use HP LTO 5 drives and LTFS. We have only used Fuji and HP tapes. As we use the tapes for a video archive each tape is used once to write and occasionally for restores.

All my drive have gone bad after writing about 100 tapes. HP has released new drive firmware that allows a drive that failed an assessment to now pass the test. The problem is the drive is still bad in that it will run slower across some tracks and stores 10% less data than a good drive.

I don't see HP or any other LTO consortium member getting in front of this problem and providing any honest information about the problem much less a road-map to a solution.

LTFS is nice for archiving but I think the future is going to be using cloud solutions.
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