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Do I need to clean my tape drive?
(KB # E141218C)

Tape drives require cleaning because circulating air introduces debris into the tape path. For tape drives that use MP (metal particle) tape, polymers from the tape may stain the recording heads, particularly in environments that are very dry. When the recording heads get dirty, error rates may increase and backups can take longer because the tape drive has to rewrite the data in error. To maintain top performance, you must clean your tape drive regularly.

The data bits written by tape drives are much smaller than dust particles. When your system is on, air is constantly circulating through the tape drive. If that air is filled with particles such as dust, smoke, or other contaminants, the result is decreased backup performance caused by error recovery, or, in extreme cases, tape drive down time.

To minimize contamination, locate your tape drive at tabletop level or higher and away from particle sources such as doorways, high foot-traffic areas, printers, and copiers. Also, try to keep the temperature and humidity within the recommended ranges for your particular model.

Most importantly, be sure to clean your tape drive when it indicates it needs cleaning.

Depending on the model of tape drive and the application software you are running, you may be notified that cleaning is required by LEDs on the drive or by a message from your software. Or, if you are using an older 8mm tape drive model, you may need to set up a schedule based on how often you use the tape drive. Be sure to clean your tape drive at the recommended intervals. Also, you should always clean your tape drive after any media-related error occurs.

To clean your tape drive, use the cleaning cartridge specifically designed for your tape drive, as listed below:

 

For this model...
Use this cleaning cartridge...
For instructions, see...
LTO LTO Cleaning Cartridge Cleaning the LTO Tape Drive
VXA 1-3, and AutoPak family VXA Cleaning Cartridge Cleaning the VXA series Tape Drives 828
Mammoth 1, 2, and Mammoth-LT Mammoth Cleaning Cartridge Cleaning the Mammoth or Mammoth-LT Tape Drive

The procedure to clean a tape drive with a cleaning cartridge is simple. Insert the tape into the drive. The drive will spend 15-30 seconds cleaning the heads and tape path of the drive. When the procedure is complete, the tape will eject. If the cleaning light was on previous to cleaning, it should be turned off after the tape is ejected.

* The Premium Cleaning Cartridge is the preferred cleaning cartridge for these tape drives. If you have older 8mm Cleaning Cartridges, you may use them in these drives, but be aware that you will get better results with the Premium Cleaning Cartridge.

 


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