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Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

 
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Frequent Advisor

Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

I recently purchased a used Ultrium 1 drive, which I'm using with an Adaptec 29160n adapter. I used it to back up my system for about a month with no problems.

Today I tried to append a differential backup to a tape on which I stored a full backup a few days ago. The backup apparently succeeded but the verify timed out. I tried to restore some of the files confirm that the backup was good, but the backup program refused to acknowledge the presence of the tape in the drive.

I tried to erase the tape and write a new full backup to it, then tried to write a full backup to a new tape, with similar results. Now, whenever I try to perform a backup operation, Backup gets to the "Mount in progress" step and waits forever.

It appears to me that my tape drive has suffered a spontaneous, catastrophic failure after a month of uneventful use. Is there anything I can do to figure out what happened and possibly correct the problem without sending the tape drive in for repair?
15 REPLIES 15
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Honored Contributor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

download the LTT, this will help in diagnose the drive, you will have lots of test and the possibility to retreive the support ticket form the drive, that will tell you hopefully what is the problem

http://h18006.www1.hp.com/products/storageworks/ltt/index.html?jumpid=reg_R1002_USEN

marino
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If everything is under control, you are going too slow (Mario Andretti)
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Frequent Advisor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

Thanks for your assistance. I downloaded and installed the current version of L&TT. I created a support ticket, which I'm attaching to this message.

I wanted to run a test of the drive but could not find instructions for doing so. L&TT said I should run an "LTO drive assessment test," but that isn't in the dropdown list of tests, and I couldn't find anything about it in the help pages. Maybe it's the same thing as the "device analysis" test?

I'll wait for your advice before trying to do more.
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Honored Contributor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

I saw that this unit is a OEM one, so HP build it but sold this to another vendor. That is why there is not ta HP Firmware on it.
I think that if you do not found the assesment test in the drop down menu, the cause may be due to the OEM FW.
I suggest you to run the other tests anyway,
Contact the vendor of this unit, or check his website and see if they have a newer FW available.
Also be sure when you run your backup that you do not have RSM active, or other backup application previously installed that have some services active in the background, these are the common causes of drive waiting to mount a tape
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If everything is under control, you are going too slow (Mario Andretti)
Highlighted
Frequent Advisor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

The support ticket that you added shows that there are no serious problems with the drive. It has experienced a 'servo' problem with one of the tapes loaded recently, but apart from that it looks to be in good health.

The drive has not been used very much over its life, and appears to have great margin remaining in all areas.

The drive has recorded a run of the LTO Drive Assessment Test, it was completed (in terms of power on time) 1.5 days ago, and it passed with 100% margin (Excellent performance)!

The only thing that I can recommend, is that the drive should be cleaned with an unexpired cleaning cartridge, and then re-tested. The LTO Drive Assessment Test should be available (even with the FW revision that you are using), unless the L&TT tool states that it is operating in 'Restricted mode'? You will find it on the drop down list within the 'Test' tab (available once you have clicked on your drive on the left hand side of the screen - once the bus scan is complete).

For reference, the cartridge that the drive has seen a problem with previously is (sn: 036P115595).

Try the cleaning tape operation, and then run the LTO Drive Assessment Test and then pull another ticket and post it on this thread (I can then take another look and see if things have changed).
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Frequent Advisor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

Thank you both, I will follow your suggestions and report back. I do not have a cleaning tape, but I will get one. It may take me a while, because money is tight. I can get by with backing up on DVDs in the meantime.

I looked at L&TT again and found the Drive Assessment Test. I tried to run it, but it failed. The instructions said I should have the tape ready to load "when requested," but it failed without requesting a tape, and then the test results said that it failed because "There must be a tape loaded prior to starting the test." I wonder whether this is just a result of bad instructions, or a clue to what is wrong.

I'm puzzled that the support ticket shows a Drive Assessment Test had already been run, since I never ran one on this drive before starting this thread. But perhaps the firmware runs one automatically when there is a problem.
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Frequent Advisor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

That is interesting, because the only way that an Assessment Test can be run on the drive, is if it is initiated by the user from the L&TT tool.....? Don't know what's going on there then?

Great feedback about the messaging in the Assessment Test, thanks. I am the person responsible for this test, so I always appreciate feedback. The instructions in the test description are an oversight on my part.... we have changed the test recently such that a cartridge needs to be loaded before the test is started, but I did not get the description updated to reflect this change. Please accept my apologies in this case.

Once you have cleaned the drive, load a test cartridge (preferably a new one, or one that you believe to be good - the test will check it's suitability anyway) and run the Assessment Test. Good luck, I hope it resolves your problem - let us know.

cheers,
Barrie
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Frequent Advisor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

I am afraid that things have gotten even more bizarre.

Since I started having problems I have used Windows Backup to create backups in files, then copied the files to CDs. When I tried to do this yesterday, Windows Backup displayed an error message I have never seen before which told me, in essence, that I did not have permission to use the tape drive and I would have to speak to my system administrator to get it. This would be difficult, since I am my own system administrator; the user account that I use routinely is an administrative account.

The message said something about not having permission to create a tape pool, which seemed most odd, since Windows created one automatically at the beginning of time. I looked for "tape pool" in Windows Backup help, but found nothing very useful. It led me to an entry in one of the Windows Backup menus for tape pool operations, but the entry was disabled.

Later yesterday the cleaning tape I purchased arrived in the mail. Today I inserted it in the drive, then tried running a backup again. The message about permission to use the tape drive did not appear this time. The backup ran perfectly. It was a differential backup, though, and I needed a full backup, so I tried running Backup again. It rewound the tape and displayed a "Please wait..." message, then waited forever.

I killed Backup, restarted Windows, and tried again. Now I'm right back where I was at the start of the month. Backup says "The requested media is not currently online...", even when it is. The "Restore" tab SAYS the tape is online, but the Backup tab won't acknowledge it.

I'm totally baffled. It appears to me that the drive is functioning, but Windows Backup has become completely addled. I have no idea what to try.
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Frequent Advisor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

I have not been able to make any more progress with this, but I did some research on IBM's website to see whether I could find a firmware update for the drive.

First, I found that IBM does not acknowledge the existence of a product with any of the identifying numbers on the drive's label. By elimination I concluded that the drive is either a model T200 or T200/F, but no such model number appears on it.

I wondered whether the problem might be termination -- the SCSI cable is terminated, and perhaps the drive's termination jumper was also sent. According to the label on the drive there is no termination jumper, although two jumpers are labeled "Reserved." According to the instruction manual for the T200 one of the "Reserved" jumpers controls termination (it is not set). Does this mean that the drive is properly terminated, or does it mean nothing? That's anybody's guess.

Regarding firmware, IBM's product information for the T200 says, in effect, "Maybe there's a firmware update, and maybe there isn't. If you want to find out you'll have to contact your dealer." Since I bought the drive used, that isn't an option.

The bottom line seems to be: shame on me for assuming that an HP drive OEMed to IBM is just as good as an HP labeled drive. This one is worthless.

I wonder whether it's possible to apply an HP firmware update to the drive, even though it is OEMed to IBM. At this point I figure I have nothing to lose.
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Frequent Advisor

Re: Ultrium 1 drive, hardware failure?

I have made no clear progress with this problem since I last posted, but I would like to get some feedback on the new idea that occurred to me.

I long suspected a problem with the SCSI adapter, cable, or terminator, rather than the drive, but I recently noticed a pattern that seems to rule that out. Full backups (written at the start of a tape) always seem to succeed, and differential (appended) backups, which are much shorter, usually fail. It seems to me that a problem with the adapter or the cabling would be more likely to appear in longer operations, and the distinction between a full/initial backup and a differential/appended backup, as such, would be irrelevant.

Adding to my bafflement was the fact that the drive worked perfectly for about a month before I started having problems. In my experience, electronic components almost never fail spontaneously, and when they do, the failure is almost always complete. The mechanical parts of the drive could conceivably get dirty or go out of alignment or something, but in my experience that type of failure is also rare. I use my backup devices lightly and treat them gently.

I long puzzled over the mystery: what changed? I couldn't think of anything that happened to my system around the time of the failure which might have induced it.

Today I found a possible answer to the mystery: about two weeks before I first encountered the problem, I changed my antivirus software from Norton Antivirus to ZoneAlarm.

When my Norton subscription expired I switched to ZoneAlarm on the advice of a client who is much more expert in computer security than I am. Since then, though, I had observed numerous instances of flaky behavior from ZoneAlarm.

For example, a few weeks ago it started getting a "database failure" whenever it tried to update its virus definitions. I consulted the company website and found that the problem was widespread, known, and uncorrected; the suggested workaround was to delete the database, forcing the program to build a new one (and forcing me to repeat the entire process of identifying programs whose nominally suspicious behavior was innocuous).

For another example, every time I run Windows Backup, ZoneAlarm halts once or twice to warn me that this standard component of Windows is suspiciously trying to act as a "server." Each time, I click the "Always trust this application" box and the "Accept" button; the next time, ZoneAlarm gives me the same warning again.

There's no smoking gun here, but I have ample reason to view ZoneAlarm as a loose cannon. I'm starting to wonder whether returning to Norton Antivirus might make my tape drive problems go away.

Does this make sense?