Memofix’s procedures to recover tape data have been developed and modified over the last 30 years as tape evolved from low capacity DDS tapes to the latest 6.25 TB LTO 6 tapes. Tape cartridges are a removable media thus eliminating some of the complexity inherent in permanent media storage devices like hard drives. We need only concern ourselves with the condition of the tape media, as we provide and control the integrity of the actual tape drive being used to read the cartridge.
Inspecting the tape for physical damage prior to any read attempts is critical to prevent further damage. Once we have repaired or stabilized the damage, our first step is to create a working copy or exact image of the entire tape (or as much of it as we can read). Our recovery engineers will then analyze the working image to determine the tape format, tape backup software used and the condition of any backup sets. Depending on the initial diagnosis, a solution is proposed and initiated.
While simple file system or logical problems with tape backups do occur, the most common seen scenarios, are tapes being accidentally overwritten with a new backup set. Assuming the new backup did not overwrite too much of the tape, we can usually recover tape data. In many instances we may need to build a new dummy header based on the original tape parameters as the header essentially tells the tape drive how big to expect the backup set to be. The reconstructed header is then spliced onto the start of the original tape, essentially fooling the tape drive and allowing us to access the remaining data from your desired original backup.
Unfortunately, tape recovery often requires Memofix to physically alter the original media, such as described in the above situation. A similar invasive technique may also be required to recover data from a tape that has been crumpled, creased or mangled. We often need to physically remove the damaged areas of the tape, splice the good sections back together and salvage the data from the remaining tape.
Tape recovery from physically damaged tape is typically very hands on and labor intensive. Consequently it is very expensive and justified only for the most critical data.