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Excessive Cleaning

Tony Rodriguez
Occasional Visitor

Excessive Cleaning

I have tow Compaq 35/70 GB DLT tape drives one on a Proliant ML 530 server and the other on a Proliant 7000 server. Both are experienceing the same problem, i.e. both buzz and the "use cleaning tape" led come on. The unit on the 7000, after I run the cleaning tape, buzzes again, but then the "use cleaning tape" led goes out and everything is back to normal, for a while. The tape unit on the ML 530 will not load a tape without it buzzing and the "use cleaning tape" led going on. I run the cleaning tape, the light goes out and I attempt to reload the backup tape but the buzzer sounds and the led goes back on. I've gone through this several times and I can't get a tape to load without a cleaning warning.
Does anyone else experience this? If so, what is the solution. Money is extreemly tight, so the purchase of new tape drives is a question.
Eugeny Brychkov
Honored Contributor

Re: Excessive Cleaning

Tony, DLT drives should be cleaned only by their request. Did you overclean them in the past? Buzzing soung is head calibration and normally should occur only on self-test on powerup.
Could you try new tape? New I mean just bought and unpacked. How it will behave?
You may also try to use any Adaptec compatible generic SCSI HBA - check drive's interface and pick HBA from Adaptec. Here are some recommended from HP . Also check SCSI cables and termination, place DLT drive only on SCSI bus and see how it will work
Vincent Farrugia
Honored Contributor

Re: Excessive Cleaning


From experience, something like you described is caused by a bad tape. Try a new tape cartridge.

If this does not work out well, 99% you have a worn out head in your drive. Heads don't get replaced unfortunately... anything which goes bad in your tape drive means that the whole drive needs to b replaced.

Tape Drives RULE!!!
David Ruska
Honored Contributor

Re: Excessive Cleaning

If you install HP Library & Tape tools (, you can view the drive logs, to see what type of errors it is getting. It will also show the tape motion hours on the drive (as long as a tape is loaded).

Cleaning lights can be caused by:

1) Bad tapes. Hard read, write, or calibration errors turn on the cleaning light. The buzzing sound you mention indicates the drive is having difficulty calibrating the tape.
2) Dirty head. Although designed to be self cleaning, poor media or frequent repositions can stain the head.
3) Contamination. DLT drives are sensitive to airborne contamination, especially in lower humidity where particles become statically charged.
4) Worn head (look for a high number of tape motion hours).
5) New tapes. Because of potential debris left during the slitting process, new tapes occasionally cause a cleaning light when first used.

Note: Cleaning tapes are good only for 20 uses. Also, if a drive has contamination, the cleaning cartridge can move that contamination from drive to drive. In these cases, try a new cleaning cartridge 3 times in a row.

Regarding over-cleaning, the DLT cleaning tape is actually just unpolished media, which is more abrasive than regular tape. However, it is not sand paper - it would take many hundreds of uses to excessively wear the head. It is also recommended that you do NOT proactively clean the drive - just do it when the drive requests it, and the cleaning light is not caused by a bad tape.
The journey IS the reward.