Tape to tape

Sometimes there are little side projects I help tackle just because they're interesting.

So at work we've got this LTO tape library that's used for archiving images. We're in the process of migrating off the tape library onto SAN and an IBM Tivoli tape library. In the meantime, there are a handful of older tapes (that we've found so far) that the LTO library has managed to mangle over the past few years. Fortunately it's just the leader section of the tape that's been mangled or broken, so we don't think there's been any actual data loss.

It's only a small number of tapes out of the hundreds of so in the library, so it probably wouldn't be a problem if the data on the tapes wasn't recoverable. Naturally the easy thing to do would be to send the tapes to one of those data recovery services and have them do the salvage work. But, that costs big bucks and being a Department of Very Little Budget, it's a last resort option.

What we do have are a bunch of spare LTO drives and a bunch of unused Sun Ultra servers. *ding*!, on comes the light bulb and we figure if we can connect the LTO drives to one of the Ultras, we can copy one tape to the other using dd(1)! Brilliant! Then we can brag about saving the department thousands of dollars!

Only if it works.

Found a couple of spare molex connectors in the Ultra box to provide power to the drives, and a SCSI cable lying around (just need to find one more now). The tape drives are high voltage differential SCSI-3. I'm not sure what the computer's SCSI card is, but with my luck it's the low voltage version.

So that's where we are now. One LTO drive connected and scrounging around for another SCSI cable to connect the other one. Might end up having to scrounge up some HVD SCSI cards too. Who knows. I have no idea if this will even work but it will be very cool if it does.