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Tape Libraries and Drives
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Tape media lifetime recommendations? Cleaning?

Mats Bjur
Occasional Visitor

Tape media lifetime recommendations? Cleaning?


I'm looking for reference material or suggestions regarding tape lifetime/replacement intervals.

With this I mean recommendations on how often one should buy new tape media/exchange the old media.

DLT, DDS, AIT, and Travan media are interesting.

Should one buy new tapes each year? How about the cleaning issue and DLT IV drives? Should one perform cleaning or not? Some suggest that one should not clean a DLT IV drive cause it will damage the drive head?
G. Vrijhoeven
Honored Contributor

Re: Tape media lifetime recommendations? Cleaning?

Hi Mats,

You could check this link:


Mats Bjur
Occasional Visitor

Re: Tape media lifetime recommendations? Cleaning?

Thank you for a quick response, but it wasn't exactly what I'm looking for. That one talks more about archival life, I'm more interested in usage "life". In other words, how often should one exchange tapes.
G. Vrijhoeven
Honored Contributor

Re: Tape media lifetime recommendations? Cleaning?

Hi again Mats,

I do not know hat kind of backup solution you use but i have experience with Legato and Omniback. Those backup solutions indicate that you need to delete a tape. I guess it depends on how frequent you use the tape, if you get the drive streaming, room and tape temperature etc. The quality of the tape etc.

Shaikh Imran
Honored Contributor

Re: Tape media lifetime recommendations? Cleaning?

Follow this link :
Go to
Tape media sub heading of the page
You can view all the information on :
DDS/DAT Data Cartridges
DLT Data Cartridges
SDLT Data Cartridges
AIT Data Cartridges
Travan Data Cartridges
Ultrium Data Cartrid
You will have to browse more that's all

I'll sleep when i am dead.
Esteemed Contributor

Re: Tape media lifetime recommendations? Cleaning?

This is a very very subjective thing :-)

Any way, we have an IBM 3494 Tape Lib and 6 3590 E1A drives with a robot (gripper). The library enclosure contains 444 cells.

In our environment we backup about 18-20Gb of data and all of this data is written onto the DLT tapes.

There are a few things which we have learnt the hardway in terms of the "Tape Life"

1. Periodic cleaning is absolutely necessary
We checkin 6 cleaning tapes into the
library and let the library decide when
the cleaning needs to be done.

2. I have had an opportunity to use tapes
from many vendors but the tapes from my
drive manufacturer (which was IBM) lasted
very very long as against the other
I would suggest that even if there is a
price difference try sticking to the
tapes manufactured/recommended by your
drive manufacturer.

3. Most of the time we tend to neglect where
the tapes are stored. It is necessary
that they are stored in a vault in
dust-free environment and well under the
required temp.

4. Also i would recommend that you make an
effort to recycle your tapes (tapes that
already have some data on them) as often
as possible.

Hope this helps